5 Latin Decadent Desserts and Where They Come From
Dessert represents the indulgent child in us all. It’s the thing we know we don’t need, the thing we always want, and the thing we know we’re always going to end up getting. Dessert is the best of culinary culture because it leaves pretenses at the door, letting our inhibitions get the best of us as we slice off a little bit of life’s most delectable foodie dream.
In Latin America, this is especially true. If you sit down for a family dinner in Lima, Rio, or Mexico City and think you’re going to skip out on dessert, think again. You’ll always have room for just one more bite, and be glad you did when your taste buds explode into an orchestra of sweet, savory, fruity, tart, gooey goodness.
The following desserts are just the highlights among hundreds of favorites from all over South America. Latin America’s unique blend of influences from around the globe has resulted in a truly special culture of delicious sweets. Mouth, meet water.
1 | Chocotorta, Argentina
Whenever there’s a celebration in Argentina (and there are many) chocotorta is sure to not be far behind. This chocolate cake combines dulce de leche, sour cream, and a layer of Argentine chocolate cookies called Chocolinas (you can find them at your local Latin market). If you want to add even further depth of flavor (and caffeine), the cookies can be dipped in coffee before being assembled into the cake.
2 | Brigadeiro, Brazil
Whether you call it a Brazilian truffle, a ‘carioca’ bon bon, or a ‘paulista’ flavor punch, the brigadeiro is one of South America’s most coveted two-bite treats. This ultra-sweet dome-shaped delight is made from condensed milk mixed with cocoa powder, then folded into cold butter before being rolled into tiny balls.
These balls are then coated in more melted chocolate and covered in sprinkles of the – you guessed it – chocolate variety. Brigadeiros are perfect with either a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. Sugar high incoming.
3 | Suspiro Limeño, Peru
There are a lot of good, food-related reasons to visit the diverse cultural and natural landscape of Peru. Suspiro limeño should be one of them. The dessert is one of the oldest in Peru, dating back to the 18th century, where it was loosely translated to “the sigh of a woman from Lima.” Never has food been described so appropriately.
It starts with a creamy caramel base known as the manjar blanco, followed by a hefty dollop of Italian meringue. This two-toned masterpiece looks more like a fancy cocktail than a dessert, but will satisfy anyone’s hankering’ for post-dinner sweets.
4 | Chajá, Uruguay
Of all the Latin American countries louded for their culinary prowess, Uruguay seldom gets mentioned with the likes of Peru, Argentina, or Mexico. However, if chajá is any indication, perhaps the world should be put on immediate notice.
Chajá gets its name from a native Uruguayan bird, and consists of a sponge cake base that’s been spiked with a mixture of peach syrup and rum (go on). Layer over top of that with meringue, whipped cream, dulce de leche, and fresh peaches for a dessert that will send you to bed with an ear-to-ear smile on your face.
5 | Quesillo, Venezuela
You can call it flan if you want, but this gelatinous disk of sugary condensed milk goes by a different name in Venezuela. They know it simply as quesillo, and its rich caramel flavor is matched only by its spectacular shine and creamy finish. But, unlike flan, this variety uses whole eggs rather than just the yolks, giving quesillo a lighter texture and a smoother mouth-feel.