24 of the Most Popular Bolivian Desserts
Bolivian cuisine is as diverse as its regions, climates, and cultures. From the eastern plains and the jungle zone with its warm and humid climate, passing through the temperate valleys and reaching the mountains and the cold altiplano, each region has different customs, as well as different native ingredients.
Amaranth, quinoa, yucca, racacha, walusa, cañahua, among others are some of the native products of Bolivia that are being rescued by activists of national gastronomy. These ingredients are used for a variety of desserts: from the most traditional, with their millenary heritage, to the ones influenced by European cultures, adapted to the local environment & culture.
Let’s round-up some of the most popular Bolivian sweet delicacies, desserts, snacks, and traditional treats that are particularly savored during religious or folkloric festivities.
1. Leche Asada (Roasted Milk)
This is a flan consisting of a mixture of eggs, milk, and sugar made in a Bain-Marie. It can be drenched in sugar caramel and scented with an essence.
It has a honeycomb texture, and the contrast of flavors and the sourness of the caramel on top delivers a highly recommended outcome.
This is a derivative of milk, where fresh milk is separated into buttermilk. The resulting curd is quite soft and moist and is served bathed in cane honey.
3. Quinoa Pudding
This is a pudding made with pre-cooked quinoa, eggs, sugar, and raisins, all baked until it is a soft but consistent texture. This specialty of the high Andean highlands offers a very distinctive flavor, difficult to find in any other recipe.
These are sandwiches of cornstarch cookies filled with dulce de leche, a kind of milk fudge, and covered all around with grated coconut. The delicacy and fragility of the dough complements well the viscosity and pleasant sweetness of this traditional delicacy.
Bolivian churros are made with a dough of flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. They are fried in hot oil in the shape of sticks, made with a baker sleeve. They are covered with granulated sugar and have no filling.
6. Budin de Pan
This is made with bread soaked in milk, eggs, milk, sugar, and melted butter. It is baked to the desired consistency and served drenched with cane honey or vanilla ice cream.
A delicacy typically served at Easter.
A reduction of water, vinegar, and lots of sugar is prepared. This is poured onto a plate and, when it is warm, cut into strips to form rings. It is covered with chopped nuts and grated coconut.
The result is a very viscous candy that sticks to the fingers, which does not prevent it from being a children’s favorite.
8. Valle Rosquettes (Rosquetes from the Valley)
These are fairly large doughnuts, prepared with wheat flour, egg yolks, butter, and sugar.
After kneading and resting the dough several times, it is cut into circles and pre-boiled in water, so that the dough “bursts” when it bakes in the oven. They are bathed in a meringue prepared with egg whites, sugar, lemon, and an herb called “polla polla” (a wild onion type of plant), which gives it elasticity.
They are left to dry stacked in baskets in the open air. They are traditional in the Cochabamba valleys.
9. Sopaipillas Potosinas
These are delicious cookie sandwiches, made with just four ingredients: flour, sugar, yeast, and eggs. They are filled with cane honey and sprinkled with powdered sugar or grated coconut.
They are an important testimony of integration, as they are prepared in the West, in the highlands of Potosí, and use ingredients that come from far eastern lands.
10. Helado de Canela (Cinnamon Ice Cream)
This is one of the most typical desserts, especially in the West and the Bolivian valleys. It is prepared with an infusion of cinnamon and sugar and the ice cream is obtained by beating the preparation in a container immersed in ice, water, and salt.
Although modern methods are used today, it is still common to see ice cream being churned on any sidewalk in a Bolivian city. It is commonly served with warm cheese “empanadas” (patties).
These are cookies made with corn flour, sugar, and lots of lard. The can be found at any religious or folkloric celebration, where they are presented in huge piles, very neatly arranged in circles that rise over a meter and a half high.
These are meringue snacks made with egg whites, beaten with sugar, and baked slowly and gently until they are firm and crunchy. A delicate and incomparable taste.
13. Tawa Tawas
These are rectangular cookies made with flour, eggs, butter, and sugar, fried in oil and bathed in sugar cane honey. These delicacies are typical of Chuquisaca and Potosí in the West.
This is a very typical cream of Pando and Beni, in the Amazon flatlands. It is made with milk infused with cinnamon, and acquires a specific texture from the flour of dried and ground plantains.
15. Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)
This is a recipe that has as many versions as interpreters. It is rice boiled in milk, sweetened with sugar or condensed milk, and perfumed with cinnamon, cloves or vanilla.
A kind of sweet and spicy risotto, with that characteristic creaminess that is very popular in Latin America.
These are snacks made with condensed milk and grated coconut, baked until browned, crunchy and delicious. They are traditionally sold in paper cones, containing 10 or 12.
17. Thayas (Milk or Cinnamon Tablets)
This is a preparation exclusively made in the Altiplanic highlands. An infusion of sweetened cinnamon or milk is prepared, thickened with pito, a kind of flour made from a cereal (quinoa, cañawa, corn, etc.).
It is spread on a baking sheet and left outdoors during the cold Altiplanic night. It is cut into rectangles and kept refrigerated until ready to eat. They are known as thayas, which derives from a Quechua word meaning frozen. Their simplicity and very low cost make them very popular for giving to children.
18. Gelatina de Patas (Leg Jelly)
This is a dessert made all over the country, although each region has its own particular way of making it. The beef leg is boiled for about three hours and is perfumed with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel, and sweetened with sugar. After several processes of degreasing and repeated cooking, it is cooled and curdled, creating that jelly texture.
It is highly appreciated for its flavor and its very high collagen content. It is said that a small cup every day is the most practical and cheapest way to consume the collagen necessary to keep joints, hair, and nails in good shape for life.
These are doughnuts made with a dough of eggs, flour, lard, and alcohol. They are boiled in water and finished off in the oven. Then they are bathed in hot and very thin cane honey.
They are traditional in Potosi, especially for the celebration of Corpus Christi.
20. Tablillas and Turrones
These are from the tradition of Santa Cruz, in the eastern plains, where sugar cane is grown. Based on the molasses obtained in the sugar manufacturing process, the tablillas are prepared, usually combined with peanuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.
Bunuelos are hot snacks made with a dough of flour, eggs, milk, and yeast. It is perfumed with anise and cinnamon, and deep fried in oil. They are then drenched with cane honey.
22. Milk Tablets
These sweet, very soft and delicate bars are made of milk, sugar, rice flour, and cinnamon powder. This mixture is cooked until it thickens, and then spread on the counter to cut into rectangles. They are quite sweet and so delicate that they melt in your mouth.
Although their origin is from Santa Cruz, their popularity reaches all corners of the country.
23. Rombitos with Honey
These traditional snacks for Corpus Christi and other religious festivities are very light cookie sandwiches, made with a flour dough and a lot of butter. They are filled with cane honey and covered with grated coconut.
These are typical pancakes from Tarija made with corn flour, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar. They are cooked on a very hot cured stone. The result is a crunchy pancake with a unique flavor, which is bathed with cane honey. They are sold on street stalls, especially during religious festivities in Tarija.
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