This list of the 5 most popular Peruvian desserts will show you why Peruvian cuisine has been recently making a name for itself as one of the world’s top cuisines, with restaurants opening in many cities internationally and several restaurants right here in Lima now being recognized as among the best restaurants in the world. Here is our list of the 5 most popular Peruvian desserts:
Think of this as the Peruvian equivalent to donuts. The twist is that picarones are made with mashed sweet potato and squash, giving them a unique and interesting flavor. After frying, these delicious round fritters are drizzled with chancaca, a type of unrefined sugar syrup often flavored with orange peel, cinnamon or pineapple. Picarones are often served as a dessert to accompany anticuchos (beef heart skewers) and other creole food and can usually be found at street vendors.
This sweet cookie sandwich has a long history that is spread across several centuries and across four continents. The story begins with the “alajú,” a traditional confection made of almonds, nuts and honey which was brought to the Iberian peninsula by Moorish conquerors from North Africa. Spanish colonists would eventually take the recipe with to the Americas and, since traditional Mediterranean ingredients were hard to come by, they substituted easier to find local ingredients. That is why each country in Latin America has its own distinctive form of this classic treat. In Peru, the typical alfajor is made with two layers of crumbly flour or cornstarch cookies, filled with manjar blanco (a type of thick milk caramel, also known as dulce de leche) and topped with sprinkled powdered sugar. Alfajores are easy to find in most Peruvian cafés, bakeries, and markets.
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3. Lúcuma Ice Cream
Lúcuma is an unusual fruit that is native to the Andean regions of Peru (for more information on lúcuma and other interesting native fruits, check out our blog 10 Unique Peruvian Fruits & Vegetables). The lúcuma fruit’s texture is similar to an avocado, but with a bright orange-colored pulp. In Peru, the most common way to eat lúcuma is as a flavoring in sweet desserts like ice cream. You will find this delicious helado at just about any ice cream shop in Peru, or sold on the street in the form of marcianos (freeze pops), perfect for a cold snack in summertime.
4. Mazamorra Morada
This dish, like the alfajor, has its origin in Arab North African cooking, having been brought to Spain during the al-Andalus era and eventually brought to the Americas by Spanish colonists. In most countries, it is a gelatin-like sweet pudding that is thickened with some type of starch and flavored with various local ingredients. In Peru, a local variety of purple corn is used, giving it a distinctive deep purple color. Mazamorra morada is usually flavored with a cinnamon and an assortment of fruits, including pineapple, apple, peach or cherry. The recipe originated in Lima and is usually served hot as a way of warming up during the city’s gloomy winters.
5. Crema Volteada
Crema volteada, which means “upside-down creme,” is known elsewhere as “flan.” It is based on the classic French recipe for crème caramel and is popular all across Latin America. It also happens to be one of the simplest recipes imaginable, requiring only milk, sugar and eggs. It can be found just about anywhere and is eaten for every occasion. In Peru, you can find different varieties and twists on the crema volteada recipe, with additions such as raisins, nuts, fruits, or quinoa–but the classic vanilla is by far the most popular.
If your mouth is watering for more delightful desserts and other Peruvian specialties, the best thing you can do is come to Peru and experience it for yourself. You can take a food tour or just visit local restaurants as you travel to get a proper sampling of Peruvian cuisine. Visit our blog on the Top 3 Travel Itineraries for Peru in 2018 to get started planning your trip.