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Five Fun and Easy South American Desserts


As you begin to explore South American cuisine, the variety of desserts with unusual names and flavors can be overwhelming. Fortunately many of them are easy to prepare. The recipes in this list are traditional, popular desserts that can be made at home with great success, perfect for your first foray into South American pastry.

1. Alfajores - Caramel Sandwich Cookies

Rebecca T. Caro/Flickr
Alfajores are a passion for South Americans, and with good reason. Once you have tasted a good one, it is hard not to become obsessed with them. I try them everywhere I go, always searching for the best one. Alfajores are sandwich cookies: they have two crispy, not too sweet cookies and a filling of dulce de leche, a caramelized milk confection.
Traditional Alfajores
Almond Alfajores
Chocolate Alfajores
Pecan Praline Alfajores
Lemon Lime Alfajores
Anise Alfajores - Alfajores de Miel
Triple Alfajores

2. Tres Leches Cake - Pastel de Tres Leches

Marian Blazes

Everyone loves this cake. It's a sponge cake drenched in a mixture of cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk, and then iced with meringue or whipped cream and fresh fruit. It's so popular in Latin America that you can find many variations of it, with extra ingredients such as coconut, chocolate, rum, or dulce de leche.
Traditional Tres Leches Cake
Quick Tres Leches Cake
Chocolate Tres Leches
Cuatro Leches Cupcakes
Coconut Tres Leches

3. Passion Fruit Mousse - Mousse de Maracuyá

Marian Blazes

You will find many kinds of tropical fruit mousses and mousse cakes in South American bakeries. They are even more popular than chocolate mousse. Serve this delicious mousse with fresh fruit, or use as a filling for a cake, such as this elegant passionfruit mousse cake.
Passionfruit Mousse
Passionfruit Mousse Cake
Passionfruit Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Mango Mousse Parfait
Mango Mousse Cake

4. Brazilian Brigadeiros and Other Bite-Size Treats

Marian Blazes

Like so many South American treats, these little fudge truffle balls have a story in Brazil - they were named after a famous 1940's Brigadier General named Eduardo Gomes, who apparently loved chocolate. They have a caramel and chocolate flavor that's unusual and good. Kids will enjoy helping to make these, and it's traditional to serve them in little paper cups.
Small desserts served in pretty little cups is something of a tradition in South America. Alfajor cookies can be made to fit perfectly into these, and many other candy-like desserts, such as Brazilian coconut flan (quindin), and thePeruvian marzipan-like candy called maná.

Make a Tray of Bite-Size Treats

5. Picarones - Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Doughnuts

Marian Blazes

If this was a North American recipe, it would surely be a Thanksgiving or Halloween treat. Crispier than a true doughnut, picarones are deep fried rings of spiced pumpkin and sweet potato yeast batter, served with a spiced molasses syrup. They are amazingly different and delicious. The picarones themselves are not very sweet, but the fruity molasses syrup contrasts perfectly with the rich flavors of the pumpkin and sweet potato.
Picarones Recipe

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