Top 15 Most Popular Venezuelan Desserts
Venezuelan desserts are very diverse and full of flavor. Some are of aboriginal origin while others are influenced by European cuisine, which has left a mark on the local gastronomy. The mix of New and Old World ingredients is obvious in many Venezuelan desserts and it’s something that makes them truly special.
Each dessert has a history, region, and a time or celebration where they are regularly served. For birthdays, you cannot miss a quesillo, which accompanies the cake, while papaya sweetens the Venezuelan Christmas Eve dinner.
We are going to take a tour of the 15 Venezuelan desserts that are most representative of the local cuisine.
1. Negro en Camisa
Negro en Camisa translated as ‘Black in shirt’ is one of my favorite Venezuelan desserts. It is a soft and smooth dark chocolate cake bathed in English cream.
Its name comes from the colors and the way in which this dish is composed (e.g. the English cream represents the shirt). It is a dessert that is very popular in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, but little heard of in the rest of the country.
Many people call this dish the Venezuelan brownie, and they are absolutely right as the texture and flavor are very similar.
The origins of negro en camisa are debated. Many believe that it is of Mantuano origin, a fusion of European and Venezuelan food enjoyed by the local (white) elite in colonial times. But Miro Popic, a renowned researcher of Creole culinary culture, doesn’t agree. According to Miro Popic, there were no chocolate desserts in Venezuela until the middle of the 20th century. He believes it’s an imported and adapted dessert from either Italy or France.
Regardless of its origin, negro en camisa is simply delicious and one of the many desserts and dishes adopted and adapted to Venezuelan cuisine.
Every time I think of describing golfeados, I think of cinnamon rolls. The golfeado is a distant cousin of the cinnamon roll since they follow the same principle of a bun rolled up in the shape of a snail. Unlike cinnamon rolls, however, golfeados are filled with grated brown sugar (panela) and cheese, and flavored with star anise.
They can be eaten with a piece of ‘cheese of the hand’ that goes on top of the roll and, for more authenticity, they are accompanied with a very cold malt.
Their origin is the Capital Region of the country and it is said that they were the work of the bakers Genaro and María Duarte. Without a doubt, they have become one of Venezuelans’ most popular sweets.
This is a quintessential dessert that accompanies the birthday cake in Venezuela. It is a dessert that can be said to be the brother of flan, the hugely popular Latin American dessert.
Quesillo is another Venezuelan dessert with European origins (e.g. the Canary Islands). In the Canary Islands it is known as flan de Huevo, and it is prepared with milk, egg yolk, and sugar.
In Venezuela the recipe was changed. Rather than egg yolk, whole eggs are used plus condensed milk. This small but important change makes the texture of the quesillo totally different as it has many holes inside, a result of using whole eggs.
Its name comes from these holes, as they resemble a Swiss cheese. There are versions with chocolate, coconut, coffee, pumpkin, and pineapple.
This is a typical Venezuelan dessert made mainly from coconut and sponge cake bathed in liquor and covered with frosting. Its preparation consists of a vanilla sponge cake that is cut into layers, sprinkled with sweet wine, cognac or rum, which alternate with coconut cream, and is decorated with a firm frosting.
There are a couple of stories about the origin of this dessert and both are situated in the colonial era. The first says it was Franciscan nuns who added coconut to the traditional Spanish recipe of Bienmesabe Antequero to give it more flavor. This recipe spread among the ladies of Caracas’s high society thanks to the Franciscan mothers teaching confectionery courses in the convent to get the money to help the needy.
The second version, and a little more poetic in my opinion, corresponds to the story of La Negra Contemplación. It is said that there was no woman in all of Caracas who prepared a better dessert than she. It was so delicious that many believed that this spongy, coconut-flavored cake with a rich coconut cream cured heartache.
5. Dulce de Lechosa
The lechosa is a tropical fruit typical of Latin American countries, where it is known by different names: papaya, mamona, chamburo, melon, sapote, bomba fruit, machauick, mapaña, and higuera de las Indias.
The papaya is the main ingredient of the sweet that bears its name. It is usually served in December, sweetening Christmas dinner in Venezuelan homes. The fruit is perfectly preserved in glass containers, making it an excellent gift for friends or family.
Green papaya are sliced and cooked in a syrup made with panela (a block of brown sugar) or sugar. The result is thin sheets of papaya crystallized by the sugar. Often, this dessert is also made with pineapple, to add a little acid touch.
6. Torta Negra
Despite not being a recipe of Venezuelan origin, this cake is very popular throughout the country, specially for Christmas. Every time I prepare it, the house is flooded with a Christmas and party smell.
It is a cake with macerated fruits, nuts, and also has a touch of liquor, and, in the Venezuelan case, a little cocoa. It is customary to make this cake in December, having soaked the fruit in liquor since January so it has a year to take on the flavor.
It originated in the United Kingdom and arrived in Latin America on July 28, 1865 aboard the ship Mimosa, which landed on the coast of what is now Puerto Madryn (Argentina). The men and women traveling to seek a new life, created the black cake as a way to easily store and transport food.
The Venezuelan version of the original recipe substitutes white sugar for brown sugar, brandy for wine, and also adds a little cocoa.
7. Arroz con leche
This is a very popular dessert throughout South America, as well as France, Spain, or Mexico.
The main ingredients are rice, sugar, and milk. Venezuelan versions include condensed milk or coconut milk. Rice pudding is an international sweet that has become a tradition in many countries and is characterized by being comforting, especially when eaten warm and with a touch of ground cinnamon.
8. Mermelada de Mango
The mango season in Venezuela is amazing, as you’ll find mango trees loaded with fruit in every corner of the country, especially in the plain area.
To make mango jam, unripe mangos are used to give it a firm consistency. Apart from the mango itself, the only thing you need is sugar and lemon.
9. Besitos de Coco
Coconut kisses are a kind of cookie that is said to date back to 1700, when pastries began to be prepared with wheat flour. All you need is all-purpose wheat flour, brown sugar (panela), eggs, grated coconut, baking soda, water, a bay leaf, butter, cinnamon, cloves, sweet pepper, and guayabita grains.
These tropical kisses are usually sold on the highways and coasts of the central region of the country. They are particularly popular during Holy Week.
One of the great dishes of traditional Creole confectionery is Buñuelos de Yuca.
Its sweet combination conferred by the papelón (unrefined brown sugar drink) and the salty part of the cassava make it one of the most beloved and representative sweets of our culinary cultural expressions.
It is a fried and crunchy sweet, seasoned with papelón. In Venezuela there are also celery, sweet potato, and pumpkin fritters.
11. Huevos Chimbos
In the Zulian region there is a typical Creole sweet called huevos chimbos, the Zulia adaptation of Spanish moles eggs. This dessert is made with eggs, sugar, rum, water, vanilla essence, and butter.
These chimbos ‘eggs’ are eaten at any time of the year, but they are especially popular during the holiday season.
One of the typical emblematic sweets of Venezuela is catalinas, also called paledonia, which reflect the Spanish cultural heritage of the country.
This sweet is made with wheat flour, brown sugar, star anise, cloves, rum, and cinnamon.
Catalinas are eaten differently in various regions of the country. In some places they are eaten on their own, in others they are accompanied by coffee, while in other areas they are accompanied by cheese.
13. Chicha Andina
Although many parts of the country think of this as a drink, it is also considered a dessert because it is mainly consumed after meals. It is a fermented drink whose main ingredients are pineapple shells and rice. It also has spices such as cloves, guayabita, cinnamon, and papelón.
It takes at least 8 days to ferment the pineapple, giving it a strong and intense flavor. It is a fairly typical sweet drink in the Andean region of Venezuela.
One sweet Lent and Easter with an unmistakable Venezuelan imprint is the majarete. It is a sweet made with corn flour and coconut and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon. Panela or papelón sweetens it up.
The majarete has humble origins, with an unattractive and even rough appearance. But it is one of those sweets that steals your heart, bringing to mind the rural Venezuela that is taught in history books: the bahareque houses, kitchens with wood stoves, humble families with limited resources and very basic, cheap ingredients.
Originally, before the invention of precooked flour, parboiled corn dough was used. The coconut was ground or grated and mixed with hot water to extract the milk, and the brown sugar, panela, was grated. Quite a job, like many of the old recipes.
The consistency of the majarete is smooth, although it compacts once it cools down. This sweet does not call for variations or additions; you can’t put whipped cream or a strawberry on top to make it look cute because it just doesn’t suit. It is also not worth thickening it with cornstarch or flour, that would make it a custard. The ingredients are austere, as is its origin.
Puff pastry palmeritas are a very popular sweet in all bakeries and pastry shops in Venezuela. The base of this sweet is puff pastry, a dough of flour and butter (margarine or lard) made by layering many thin sheets.
The palmerita is a French specialty (in French, palmier). Palmeritas are usually around 2-4 centimeters thick and have a specific heart shape. There are also different version: traditional ones with sugar, those with egg yolk, and those with chocolate, usually milk chocolate.
Venezuelan cuisine is known for its exotic and Caribbean flavors, especially in savory dishes such as pabellón or arepas. However, the wide variety of Venezuelan sweets and desserts is also of great quality and deserves at least one try.
With its mixture of flavors from different influences, it manages to caress the palate of the most demanding tasters. And the most beautiful thing, each Venezuelan dessert is made with the intention of enjoying it with the family.
Related: Most Popular Venezuelan Foods
Related: Most Popular Christmas Dishes in Venezuela
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Great recipes thank you. I need to make some, had forgotten about them. They are all delicious