Se me hace agua la boca: 4 Latin Desserts and Their Origins

Se me hace agua la boca: 4 Latin Desserts and Their Origins

Try one of these 4 Latin desserts for a sweet treat that the whole family will love!

Food may be able to feed the soul, but dessert can cure all… well, maybe. These mouth-watering desserts are known around the world, but few know their origins and history.

Discover a little more about these Latin dessert favorites! 

It is believed that flan originally came from the Romans; however, it has evolved a bit since its initial mixture of eggs, milk and honey. In the Middle Ages, it became more popular, especially during Lent.

It eventually made its way to France and Spain, where they added their own sweet touch with caramel. The Spanish brought it to the Americas and it has since become a popular dessert worldwide — with each country typically concocting its own variation.

1 cup of sugar
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Place the sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts and take a deep amber color
  2. Pour carefully into a baking dish. Move the mold so the caramel spreads across its surface
  3. Mix the condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender
  4. Pour this mixture into the mold
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place it inside a larger baking pan. Fill half of large pan with hot water. Bake in an oven (preheated) at 350 F for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until you feel the center of the custard has set
  6. Remove the flan from the oven and remove the foil. Let it cool to room temperature. Then put it in the refrigerator overnight
  7. To unmold, place an inverted plate over the mold. Carefully turn the flan mold and serve


While no one is quite certain where the churro originated, there are a few theories.

Some think it came from ancient China’s “youtiao” and was brought over by the Portuguese. The Chinese version was a salty, fried, breakfast bread — but the Portuguese added sugar, which ultimately led to the delicious treat we know and love!

Another theory is that Spanish shepherds could easily fry the dough over campfires in the fields, making it a staple for their diet. Regardless of where it came from, what we have now is a delicious treat.

1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sugar


  1. In a saucepan put water to boil, add the butter and a pinch of salt. When boiling, add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until it comes off the container. If it is too thick, you can add a little more water. Leave the dough until it's at room temperature
  2. Place dough in a churrera to cut the churros. If you don't have a churrera you can solve with a pastry bag with a fluted decorating tip
  3. Deep fry the strips in very hot oil. Be careful they don't stick to each other
  4. Place them on a plate with a paper towel to drain excessive oil and sprinkle with sugar
  5. Serve hot with a chocolate or caramel dip

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The modern alfajor is as varied as the countries it’s been adopted by. And while there is some mystery behind its origins, there was a similar Arabic treat in 8th century which started appearing in Hispanic cookbooks during the 1100s.

In modern day Spain, alfajores use flour, honey and almonds, and more cylinder-shaped than cookie form. Versions across South America are typically two cookies with filling in between. And in the Caribbean, they often use cassava.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/3 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 egg yolks

Tip: For firmer alfajores, increase the amount of sugar and decrease the amount of cornstarch, proportionally.


  1. Mix all the ingredients and stretch the dough
  2. Cut the dough into circles with a small round mold
  3. Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes. The bigger they are cut, the longer the baking time and lower temperature they need. Bake until set but not browned
  4. Let them cool completely before filling
  5. Put two cookies together using caramel filling. You can give a touch to the edges with grated coconut for garnish

Tres Leches Cake

The origin of “three milks cake” is disputed, but the idea likely came from Medieval Europe. In Hispanic culture, soaked-cake recipes, like tres leches, started appearing in Mexico as early as the 19th century.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together. Set aside
  3. Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture slowly; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan
  5. Bake in an oven (preheated) at 350 F for 30 minutes. Poke several holes in cake with fork
  6. Combine whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk together. Pour over top of the cooled cake
  7. Whip whipping cream, remaining 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over top of cake
  8. Refrigerate and enjoy cold!

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Which of these Latin desserts is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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