'Latin American' on Serious Eats

Dulces: Tres Leches de Coco (Coconut Tres Leches Cake)

Tres leches is a personal favorite, immortalized in my taste memory by my mother's recipe, here slightly modified to make room for a bit of tropical taste and texture. One of her signature desserts, it's a large fluffy sponge thirsting for a flood of the milky trifecta. Just when it seems there is much too much liquid, that the cake will drown, the cake slurps it up, gushing out only when prodded with a greedy fork. More

Dulces: Torta de Higos (Fig Torte)

Lunch was usually at a popular steak house like Los Ranchos, known for the churrasco and creamy salsa jalapeña. The dessert menu was flimsy and limited to a few uninspired ice cream flavors, the unavoidable overcooked flan, and cocoa-deficient chocolate cake, but there was one saving grace: the torta de higos. It's an easy construction of three components: cake, custard, and poached figs, but together, holy trinity, Batman More

Dulces: Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

I couldn't help but think of the stereotypical fiery Latin temperament when I was making this recipe. Arroz con leche (riz au lait or rice pudding), is such a languid, drowsy, gentle thing, so tender it's even suitable for those with smooth gums and weak constitutions, and yet, it is among the most well-liked and frequently made desserts throughout Latin America. Maybe we're all bark and no bite. More

Dulces: Calzones Rotos (Chilean Fried Pastries)

In Chile, legend has it that a woman who sold fried dough in a Santiago square during colonial times was surprised by a strong gust of wind that made her skirt fly up. The big reveal: her underpants were torn. Today, the pastries she sold are still prepared in Chile. They're called calzones rotos (torn ladies' underwear) to her—and her mother's—eternal shame. More

Dulces: Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)

My husband says alfajores are in Latin America's what the Oreo is in the U.S. The sandwich cookies are arguably as recognizable, but they've got a more elaborate history. Alfajor is a derivation of an Arabic word meaning "stuffed," as these treats are. Popular in Spain and in multiple Latin American countries, the alfajor was introduced—along with other foods and cultural elements—to the Iberian Peninsula during the centuries-long Moorish occupation that began in the 8th century. More

Dulces: Torta de Elotes (Corn Torte)

Corn is ubiquitous in Latin American cuisine. It's used in every conceivable fashion, from the instantly recognizable tortilla to more obscure fermented beverages, like chicha de maíz. Torta de elotes—corn torte or cake—is on the more popular side and is made in several countries. It's rather similar to corn pudding: fresh corn is ground to a pulp, then combined with eggs, sugar, and other flavorings, such as sweetened condensed milk or cheese. More

Dulces: Turrón de Chocolate (Chocolate Biscuit Cake)

I've been gathering and researching Latin American recipes in preparation for each week's installment of "Dulces" and decided to start with those that are most familiar; the ones I grew up eating. My husband couldn't wait for me to make this one: it's one of his favorites because it's all cocoa and sugar, but especially because it's one that he learned to prepare alongside his grandmother. More

Dulces: Pastel de Piña (Pineapple Tart)

In Nicaragua, pastel de piña is what you'd be most likely to find cooling in the kitchen and for sale at any bakery. Though "pastel" translates into "pie" there, this is more of a tart with a lattice top. The pineapple filling is cooked until thick, sticky, and jam-like, the flavor intensifying and acquiring caramel notes as it simmers. It peeks out glossy and golden from the lattice screen that presses it against a crisp layer of buttery crust. More

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