Top 20 Cuban Desserts You Need to Try Out
Cubans are loyal lovers of sweet flavors. Perhaps it is due to the agricultural tradition of mass producing cane sugar. Possibly. The truth is that there are very few culinary preparations that do not include a small spoonful of cane sugar.
Desserts are an essential element of traditional Cuban food. They are always served to end every lunch or dinner, even late afternoon snacks. This article shares a special list of the 20 favorite traditional desserts of Cuban cuisine.
Flan de Caramelo is possibly one of the most recognized Cuban desserts globally, an exquisite recipe that you should try. It is prepared to taste either natural or with additions of other flavors such as coconut, pineapple, etc.
This flan is generally composed of several types of milk, such as evaporated, condensed, and regular. The recipe also includes egg and sugar. The cooked sugar syrup is one of the special secrets of this dessert, which is used to seal the edges of the flan.
2. Tocinillo del Cielo
This Andalusian dish is the star of the kitchen, never to be forgotten. Cubans adore this tasty delicacy made with eggs, water, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon. The recipe is very similar to caramel flan.
Like flan, Tocinillo del Cielo includes the preparation of a caramel base. You need to incorporate a mixture of egg, sugar, and lemon juice on top of this base. Then it cooks for 60 or 90 minutes.
Rice pudding is one of the most coveted sweet rice recipes of Cuba. You don’t need many ingredients to make this delicious dessert; it is made with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.
This dessert is often homemade. It can be found in Cuban homes but also in restaurants. It is generally served in round bowls and sprinkled with a bit of ground cinnamon.
4. Dulce de Leche Cortada (Sour Milk Dessert)
The sour milk dessert is a delicious and straightforward Cuban dish that you should not miss. You only need a little regular milk (especially one that contains a little natural animal fat like cow’s or goat’s milk) and sugar.
The sour milk is boiled, and, little by little, sugar is added to taste until it reaches the desired texture. You can also make the sour milk yourself using a tablespoon of vinegar or a piece of lemon peel. At the end or during cooking, you can also add a little cinnamon stick.
5. Trozos de Fruta Bomba en Almíbar (Pieces of Papaya in Syrup)
Pieces of bomba fruit in syrup are a typical homemade sweet that you can find in any Cuban home. The recipe is simple. You cook the pieces of fruit (preferably green) with a bit of water and a lot of sugar. The cooking time depends on the ripeness of the fruit. The syrup should be a middling consistency, neither too runny nor too thick.
It is recommended that you don’t go overboard with the sugar because it can turn the candy into a sticky, unbreakable dough. You can add a little cinnamon stick to enhance the flavor. This type of cooking is essential to Cuban cuisine. Due to its sweetness, this papaya in syrup is usually combined with a slice of regular cheese.
6. Cascos de Guayaba (Guava Hulls)
Guava is one of the most internationally known Cuban fruits, along with mango and mamey. It has multiple culinary uses, especially in desserts. Guava shells are a decadent traditional dessert, which is accompanied by regular cheese or cream.
Its name is due to the hull shape of the guava. The outside of the guava is used to make the sweet, giving it a helmet-like shape. Cook it for a short time, so it doesn’t get too soft, then add the syrup made with the cooked sugar.
7. Tajadas de Mango en Almíbar (Mango Slices in Syrup)
Like other fruit sweets cooked in syrup, mango slices are one of the specialties of Cuban homes. The mango slices are boiled in a pre-cooked syrup, preferably with a very liquid consistency.
You can serve it with regular or cream cheese.
8. Dulce de Coco Rayado en Almíbar (Grated Coconut in Syrup)
Grated coconut in syrup has different variants that depend on its final texture. Like many other fruits in Cuba, the grated coconut is first cooked in syrup. Then it is given different finishes varying its texture and coverage.
You can find it in the form of a cookie, filling for a caramel ball, or simply in its medium liquid version. You can also serve the grated coconut sweet with white or regular cheese.
9. Cascos de Toronja (Grapefruit Hulls)
Grapefruit hulls are made with the finest rind from the skin of this citrus fruit. The crust is cut into four parts and left to soak for at least 24 hours. Then they are boiled at least four times, changing the water each time.
Finally, the grapefruit rind is cooked in syrup. You can serve it with white or cream cheese.
10. Pastelitos de Guayaba o Coco (Guava or Coconut Cupcakes)
Guava or coconut pastries are one of the few Cuban sweet specialties made with a puff pastry base. Commonly, the dough is prepared in a rectangular or a triangular shape.
Although a sweet filling is preferred, they can also be filled with something savory such as cheese or ham.
11. Pudín de Pan (Bread Pudding)
Bread pudding is a well-known dessert in Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. The sweet is based on a mixture of breadcrumbs, eggs, sugar, regular milk, and raisins. It can also be flavored with vanilla and cinnamon.
Like caramel flan or Tocinillo del Cielo, bread pudding is cooked on a previously cooked syrup base. Its texture is generally fluffy and solid. It is usual to use a circular mold when cooking.
12. Masa Real o Panatela de Guayaba (Real Dough or Guava Panatela)
This unique sweet is a symbol of times of crisis in Cuba, particularly the 1990s. The dough or guava panetela is also known as a hunger killer.
This peculiar sweet that is simple to prepare has been resented for its cheap commercialization in Cuba. However, it cannot be denied that it is a tasty Cuban dessert.
13. Señorita (Miss)
Señorita is another of the few Cuban desserts made with puff pastry. The puff pastry is separated into several layers, which are filled with different flavored custards or simple pastry cream.
The preparation of this sweet also includes other ingredients such as milk, butter, egg, lemon, sugar, and cornstarch. The small sheets of puff pastry are baked separately for a few minutes. Then they come together with the filling. To finish, they are sprinkled with a little icing sugar, and they are ready.
14. Bueñuelos de Yuca en Almíbar (Yucca Fritters in Syrup)
Yucca fritters in syrup are a Christmas delight from Spanish culinary traditions. Its preparation is much more complex than most traditional Cuban desserts. Shaped into the number 8 or infinity symbol, they signify good luck for the coming year.
The recipe includes egg, anis, taro, cassava, flour, oil, and salt. The most complex part of the process is the preparation of the dough. Once the desired mixture is achieved, it is fried, left to cool, and then served with syrup on top.
15. Atol de Maiz (Corn Dessert)
The atol is nothing more than cornmeal cooked with sugar and other natural flavorings such as cinnamon and vanilla. This Central American dessert is also known in Cuba as majarete or sweet flour.
The cornflour is cooked together with the boiled milk and the rest of the ingredients are gradually added. It is served either hot or cold.
16. Natilla de Caramelo (Caramel Custard)
Custard is a typical dessert in Cuban homes, especially those with small children or babies. However, this is a family dessert that is refreshing and light, perfect for an afternoon snack.
The custard recipe includes milk, eggs, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. It can be made with different flavorings such as chocolate, vanilla, ice cream, etc. A caramel base is prepared for the mold’s bottom, giving this dessert a special juicy touch.
Cuban torrejas are like a Creole version of French toast. This dish is very popular in Cuba being straightforward and inexpensive to prepare.
The bread slices are dipped in milk and egg and then fried in hot oil. Once done, they are left to cool and then served with syrup on top.
18. Torticas, Mantecado or Polvorón
This dessert, so vaunted in Cuban bakeries and sweet shops, has multiple names throughout the island of Cuba. In some cities, it is known as torticas, mantecado, or polvorón. Without a doubt, Torticas de Morón is one of its most famous variants.
It is a thick and sweet biscuit made with flour, sugar, butter, and lemon zest. It should be baked quickly for 18 or 20 minutes without browning the outside of the dough.
19. Mermeladas de Frutas (Fruit Jams)
Traditional sweets made with fruit and sugar are ubiquitous in Cuba. Like fruit candies served with syrup or caramel, jams are a standard part of Cuban homes.
Among the most famous natural fruit jams are mango and guava. It is also usually served with a slice of white or regular cheese.
20. Bocadito de Helado (Ice Cream Bite)
The ice cream bite is a typical sweet from street food sales. In any corner of Cuban neighborhoods, you can find a vendor asking about the sale of ice cream bites.
It usually consists of two rectangular cupcakes, between which a block of homemade ice cream is added. It is a refreshing snack and, above all, striking for the unusual way it is sold.
Related: 25 Traditional Cuban Foods