Top 10 Spanish Desserts

Spain is a country that values a calm and enjoyable way of life. Naturally, this mindset calls for dessert after dinner. Sharing meals with family and friends is a large part of the Spanish culture, and therefore so are the sweets. In fact, dinner is not the only time of the day that Spain likes to indulge, indeed you’re likely to find churros with chocolate or other pastries being served for breakfast.

Whether you’re at home surfing the web for baking inspiration or investigating dulces  for an upcoming trip to Spain, this article leaves little to be desired. Learn about the country’s most traditional and popular sweets.

Here are ten of Spain’s best desserts that you’ll find in bakeries, restaurants and home kitchens. Most of them originate from the Spanish provinces, while others traveled from foreign lands and were adopted by Spain.

Prepare for a mouth-watering read about everything from churros to fried milk. Proceed with caution; this might be a difficult read without something sweet at hand.

Carolina

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Photo sourced from El Correo

A treat so pretty you might hesitate to bite into it, the Carolina is a delicacy that comes from Bilbao. The pastry crust that holds a creamy cone is filled with meringue.

There is a beautiful story behind this elegant dessert. The Carolina was in fact named after a young girl and has been around since before 1930. The story says that a pastry chef from Bilbao had a daughter who loved meringue, so he put it in a puff pastry to keep her from making a mess.

The legendary baker is often referred to as El Señor Carolino. His genius creation can be spotted by its gold and brown decor, as the cone is coated with sweet egg yolk and dark chocolate.

Buñuelos

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Photo sourced from The Spruce Eats

While buñuelos are pretty much a global delicacy, they aren’t all prepared exactly the same way. The fried dough ball emerges during the holiday season in diverse places around the world such as Africa, the Americas, and India.

The oldest recorded enjoyment of buñuelos traces back to the Moors in early Spain. To learn more about Moorish history, see the Top 20 Facts About the City of Madrid. Interestingly, the Moors flavored the dough with anise.

The Mexican tradition prepares thin, crispy discs and sometimes adds a sweet syrup on top. Latin America actually considers the seasonal treat to be a symbol of good luck. In Uruguay, a creative spin on buñuelos is enjoyed with both sweet and salty variations. They use apples and bananas to flavor the sugary treats, and spinach and seaweed for savory buñuelos.

Actually, Uruguayans have incorporated a less conventional ingredient in this treat in the past. Before it was banned due to disease, they used cow brains to prepare savory buñuelos. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that sounds tasty…

Flan

Creme Caramel (Flan) Recipe

Photo sourced from Gemma Stafford

A dessert with unique texture, a spoonful of flan is like a taste of vanilla mousse, only better. Since Flan is made in many countries other than Spain, it’s likely that you’ve enjoyed some before.

This dish is a custard with a layer of caramel on top. The rich dessert is nice to share with friends or family, and is usually served at restaurants. Beyond Spain, places like France, Mexico, and more serve variations of delicious flan.

Churro

Photo sourced from Nagi

Surely you’ve tasted a churro before, and if not, add it to your bucket list. This unique treat is a staple sweet in Spain. But, it could probably be found somewhere near you, as the dessert has spread to places around the world.

Sometimes Spain serves thin churros that are meant to be paired with chocolate for breakfast. In other places, the sticks are thick and gooey, and can be eaten on their own. The cinnamon-sugar sticks might also be filled with dulce de leche or chocolate for mind-blowing taste.

Arroz con leche

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Photo sourced from dorastable.com

Arroz con leche makes the perfect sweet dish for dessert, but it can also be eaten for breakfast or as a snack. In fact, when prepared with less sugar, it’s sometimes incorporated in dinners.

While widely present in Spain, creamed rice is found almost everywhere around the world. The global dish is prepared in various ways and forms part of several cultural traditions.

A less known fact is that Buddha himself chose rice pudding as his final meal before achieving enlightenment. It seems like this Spanish dessert is loved by all, and perhaps it even holds the secret to reaching nirvana.

Suso

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Photo sourced form Cocina a Buenas Horas

Open wide! Does the saying, the more the merrier, apply to creme? Xuixo, or Suso in Spanish,  is one of the heavier options on this list and is made with a fried and sugar-coated pastry that is filled with crema catalana.

The heritage of this dessert from Girona holds a story of true love in Spain, when el Tarlà, a famous acrobat of the time, fell in love with the daughter of a pastry chef. Once, the acrobat and his lover met while her father hid in a bag of flour.

Legend has it that the pastry chef was discovered when he sneezed. Out of sympathy, he promised to allow his daughter to marry the acrobat and to give them the recipe to a special pastry. Thus, the xuixo was born, named after the sneeze that betrayed the chef in hiding.

When you have the appetite for it, xuixo can be the perfect treat. It’s like a doughnut but better. Invite a friend to a Spanish bakery for a taste of this amazing dessert and learn to share Spain’s love for Catalan cream.

Tarta de Santiago

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Photo sourced from thevintagemixer.com

The tarta is an almond cake from Galicia that is topped with an imprint of the Cross of Saint James in powdered sugar. The beautiful design gives remembrance to the Middle Ages, when this cake was invented.

The ancient dessert is a classic part of Galician cuisine today, along with leche frita. Unlike some of the other sweets on this list, this one is so specific to Spain that it has been awared PGI status, or protected geographical indication. Moreover, it was chosen to represent Spain in 2006 for Café Europe, a cultural initiative to showcase European baking and national delicacies.

Membrillo con queso

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Photo sourced from okdiario.com

The lightest of this selection of Spanish delicacies, membrillo is simple yet delicious. With the contrasting flavors of rich cheese and sweet fruit paste, membrillo con queso is an amazing combination. Originating from the Iberian Peninsula, it often takes part in Christmas celebrations around the world.

It is actually not only a Spanish snack, but known as quince cheese or quince paste in English and found in stores in France, Italy, Germany and beyond. Membrillo is easy to prepare and perfectly delights the taste buds. Simply slice the jelly paste along with your favorite cheese and immediately satisfy your craving for something sweet.

Mazapán

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Photo sourced from querecetas.net

The first recorded taste of mazapán was noted in Toledo all the way back in 1512. Today, this delicacy is more likely to be found in a store than in a restaurant, but it tastes amazing. Mazapán can be made out of almonds or peanuts, and the nuts are virtually the only ingredient involved in making this dessert.

Found at gift shops and grocery stores, mazapán is simply delicious. Buy yourself a box and try not to eat the whole thing. It also pairs nicely with coffee. In English, it’s referred to as marzipan and is often used on cakes or made into animal shapes and incorporated in Christmas and New Years.

Leche Frita

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Photo sourced from fincaelrancho.com

Leche Frita is more than just milk poured into a frying pan. And don’t try that at home, it’s apparently dangerous. In reality, this yummy dessert is made by cooking flour, milk and sugar into dough and then cutting, frying, and serving the squares with a sugar and cinnamon glaze.

Coming from the north of Spain, the treat is crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle. Pair it with a hot chocolate and enjoy the most comforting food you’ve had in a long time. While Leche Frita is not the most traditional of these desserts, it sure is good.

 

In conclusion, Spain has a dessert for every occasion. From light as a feather to creamy as a stick of butter, there’s something for everyone in this list. If you’re not already in Spain, you might need to a book a flight now.

The Spanish cities will expose you to everything from mazapán to buñuelos, and you won’t be able to get enough of it. Each traditional recipe holds the rich story of its creation and the culture that it belongs to.

This article is enough to make me want to put my shoes on go find the nearest traditional Spanish dessert. If you’re far from Spain, don’t be afraid to search for recipes and create your own dish. Every one of these desserts are exquisite.