While most people are familiar with Mexican tacos, enchiladas and tortillas, the wide variety of Mexican desserts is less well-known. The Mexican dessert repertoire includes cakes, puddings and cookies. Fruit and chocolate are also commonly served.
Before the Spanish conquistadors conquered the Aztec empire in Mexico, food was eaten broiled, boiled, steamed or eaten raw. Nothing was fried in oil until the Spaniards imported pigs. Then the indigenous people in Mexico began to use the oil and to fry certain foods. Some of the now traditional Mexican desserts come from earlier Spanish recipes made using native tools and cooking methods. Even now, though, most Mexican desserts are not fried. One exception is "crema frita." This is a thick custard that is sliced, rolled in flour, breadcrumbs and eggs, and then deep-fried. It is served with honey.
Dessert is the last course of the comida, the main meal of the day which can have up to six courses in all. The main dessert is usually a pudding, a custard, or a cooked fruit dish. After this, coffee and fresh fruit follow. Foods that we might serve as a dessert are also eaten at other times of day. Fruit, cookies and sweet rolls are breakfast foods. There is also a midafternoon snack, the merienda, which includes hot chocolate, sweet rolls, cookies, cakes and atole, a type of corn porridge. This atole is eaten with sugar, milk, eggs and fruit.
If the dessert is called a "dulce," which means "sweet," it is probably a pudding. There are coconut dulces, sweet potato dulces, pineapple dulces, banana dulces and almond dulces. Dulce de Pan is a bread pudding. Many of these pudding recipes call for sherry or another sweet white wine. Helado is a frozen dessert like an ice cream or a sorbet. Hazelnuts, mangoes and watermelon are flavours of helado. There is also a frozen dessert called "vino tinto," made from a sweet red wine. Tortas, or cakes, are made from carrots, chick peas and cantaloupe.
A traditional dulce from the Mexican State of Oaxaca is a chick pea and pineapple pudding, "dulce de garbanzo y pina." Desserts from Guadalajara are flavoured with molasses, lemon juice, anise and raisins. In the more tropical areas of southern Mexico, bananas are a staple dessert ingredient.
An assortment of sliced fresh fruits are available for dessert in Mexico. They are also sold on the streets by the vendors. Many Mexicans sprinkle hot red chile powder on the fresh fruit before eating it.
A final category of Mexican desserts to consider is candy, "bombones." Mexicans introduced the world to chocolate which they drink, use in candy, baking and in savoury meat dishes. They also make caramel candies that are rich in milk. Another caramel candy-like dessert is yemitas. Beaten egg yolks are mixed with sugar and then boiled. After they cool, they are dipped in a sticky syrup before being served.