Top 15 Most Popular Basque Desserts
If you’ve heard anything about the Basque Country, you probably know two things, one more interesting than the other: it rains a lot, and its gastronomy is a delight. As tourists know, the north of Spain is a region where you can eat very well, and there is an excellent variety of dishes.
The food of the Basque Country stands out for ingredients that originate from the fishing and livestock traditions. In addition, its recipes are filling, as they are dishes with great consistency and succulence.
However, we want to focus on the dishes that will whet readers’ appetite: desserts. Equally varied and exquisite, Basque desserts are famous in the region and the rest of Spain (even around the world!). Read on to find out which ones we are talking about.
1. Basque Cake: Pastel Vasco (Gâteau Basque)
The Basque cake has a Basque and French identity. Its popularity comes from the sailors who passed through the Basque Country and tasted this delicious dessert. Hence its name. In the past, the dessert was reserved for special occasions and gradually spread from the north to the rest of the territory.
The ingredients of Basque cake today differ significantly from that time. Nowadays, it is prepared with flour paste, eggs, and butter, filled with pastry cream. It is also possible to add fruit or apricot fillings, perfect to end a succulent meal!
Mamia is a delicious Basque dessert made with raw sheep’s milk. It is usually presented in an earthenware jar called a kaiku. It can be considered the northern version of cuajada. Its ingredients contain sugar, a few drops of rennet, and, optionally, honey, cinnamon, and mint leaves.
In the old days, the milk was heated in the kaiku, and hot stones were put on the fire. It is very common to find it in different restaurants and pastry shops throughout the Basque Country, so don’t forget to try it!
Goxua is a popular Basque dessert, especially in the area of Vitoria. It is rumored that this dessert was invented as a copy of Catalan cream.
Although it depends greatly on the region, goxua is made with sponge cake, pastry cream, and liquid caramel. You will commonly see it served in individual bowls or in the form of a cake ready to split into portions (even if you don’t want to share it with anyone else).
The Basque dessert patxineta has its origin in the city of San Sebastian. It is made with puff pastry and almonds and filled with pastry cream. Its name comes from the French frangipane, a sweet it is easy to confuse since both contain almonds. Coffee and cocoa may be added to the recipe as well.
5. Talos with hot chocolate
Talo is a tortilla-like food originating in the Basque Country and Navarre. It is made with cornflour and water, and cooked on a grill. The talo with txistorra can be found everywhere in the festivities of Santo Tomás in Bilbao and San Sebastián on December 21.
In addition, it can be filled with chocolate, cheese, whipped cream, and anything you can imagine.
6. Torta de San Blas
San Blas is celebrated on February 3, and eating an exquisite aniseed cake in his name is widespread. This Basque dessert consists of a cookie base covered with glazed meringue. You can find it in many Basque stores, and they are usually large in size. Tradition also dictates that the saint’s name is added in chocolate, creating a rich contrast between the flavor of the meringue and the aniseed.
This Basque dessert, challenging to pronounce for those who do not know the Basque language, is a traditional cream of nuts and milk. It is similar to custard, but its texture is thicker.
If you travel to the Basque Country at Christmas, you will see it everywhere, as it is a typical dessert of the holidays. It was historically made in the farmhouses of the province of Gipuzkoa.
8. Tejas y Cigarrillos de Tolosa
As the name implies, tejas and cigarillos originate from the town of Tolosa. It is a Basque dessert with a long history since it dates back to the 12th century and was common at the crossroads during the Middle Ages.
Tejas y cigarillos de Tolosa consist of a sweet made of butter and dry pastry with almonds bathed in a light egg yolk. If you like coffee or a hot cocoa drink, they are a perfect accompaniment.
9. Idaiazabal cheese with quince jelly
Idaiazabal cheese is gaining increasing popularity in the Basque Country and the rest of Spain, and for a good reason. The dessert made with this cheese and quince is one of the best Basque desserts of today and is a perfect ending to any meal in a typical cider house. They can also include walnuts, offering a delicious contrast.
10. Apple jam with cheese and walnuts
The apple jam with cheese and walnuts is also common in cider houses with ingredients similar to those of the previous dessert. It is usually made with sheep cheese, and the walnuts can be peeled or served at the table for each diner to peel them.
This Basque dessert will not leave anyone indifferent for those passionate about the contrast of flavors between salty and sweet. It is a delicious delicacy.
11. Canutillos de Bilbao
The canutillos de Bilbao are a fundamental part of Bilbao’s gastronomy. They consist of a puff pastry dough filled with pastry cream sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Canutillos’ name comes from the cylindrical shape in which they are presented. They are served hot and can be accompanied with custard or chocolate cream. Simply wonderful.
12. Trainera Cake
Trainera cake is a Basque cake made of apple and filled with almonds. Its name comes from the Basque rowing boat called trainera that is traditionally used for fishing, as its shape is reminiscent of it. Although it is less known than other Basque desserts, you may come across one of them on your travels, so let us know if you do!
Macarons are a traditional pastry made with ground almonds, sugar, and egg yolk. Their history dates back to the 17th century and is related to the French monarchy. On the occasion of the wedding of Louis XIV with the Infanta of Spain in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Mr. Adam, a pastry chef with a store on the street, offered this delicacy to the young king. The rest, as they say, is history.
Another Basque dessert made with apples, Sagarsala, is a cake that has a creamy texture inside and is complemented with sponge cake. Cream, fresh cheese, and powdered sugar are used for the dough. For the base, sugar, red wine, and eggs. Irresistible!
15. Carolina de Bilbao
Very typical in the city of Bilbao and its surroundings, carolinas are a simple sweet that consists of a puff pastry base on which is placed a cone of meringue of soft texture where chocolate and egg yolk are poured.
The sweet was created by a pastry chef from Bilbao with a daughter who loved meringue. Nowadays, it can be seen in many pastry shops in the city and other more remote areas of the Basque Country.