Dessert Culture in Spain
Here's all of the most notable pastries/desserts I've been able to try in my time in Spain (not all of which are from Spain!).
Being a vegetarian in a country that has a meat-heavy diet certainly does have its perks; people are proud of the desserts their country has to offer (all of which are vegetarian), and they certainly have not shied away from demonstrating this. Most of these desserts are very cream, sugar, and milk heavy (as most desserts are). Although I’ve touched upon desserts before in other food posts, I truly felt like they deserved a post of their own and even this post in itself does not encompass half the desserts I’ve tried — just the best ones.
Pictured from left to right (first row): torrijas con helado, churros con chocolate, gofres con helado, torrijas tradicionales
Pictured from left to right (second row): palmeras, magdalenas, tarta de bizcocho, flauta chocolate
Pictured from left to right (third row): lengua de chocolate, tarta de galletas, Latvian Rice Pudding With Berries, Crema con fresas
Pictured from left to right (fourth row): merengue, flan de chocolate, crema catalana, tarta de crema y almendras
Churros con chocolate - Not a dessert in Spain, this sweet treat is practically one of Spain’s national breakfast dishes. Churros on their own are actually flavorless and the thick hot chocolate adds to the sweetness of the dish. The thick chocolate is usually made from Cola Cao, Spain’s equivalent of Nesquik (a chocolate powder used in drinks and for flavoring).
Crema Catalana - The sister dish of crème brûlée, this dish with its origins in Catalonia is made from whole milk (while creme brûlée is made from cream).
Torrijas - Another dish remarkably similar to French Toast, torrijas are widely consumed during Semana Santa. They are made from day-old bread soaked in a milk-eggs-sugar mixture and later coated in cinnamon.
Magdalenas - These are little Spanish cupcakes commonly made for little kids to take as snacks to school or as a quick desserts. They resemble the texture of Spanish sponge cake.
Tarta de Galletas - One of the most famous Spanish cakes, this tarta made from galletas (cookies) — specifically galletas called galletas marias. They are layers of cookies and cream sometimes alternate with layers of the Spanish sponge cake (bizcocho).
Latvian Rice Pudding With Berries - Obviously, the name gives away the fact that this dessert is not Spanish, but one of Laura’s relatives (who is from Latvia) made me this dish while I was in Madrid visiting family. It consists of a sweetened whipped cream rice served atop a rich wild berries sauce.
Merengue - This one is not from Spain and is generally well known in the United States (meringue). Made from whipped eggs, sugar, and usually an acid like lemon, this fluffy delight is very popular here as well.
Lenguas de Chocolate - A rich puff pastry filled with chocolate and coated with chocolate sprinkles, this dessert derives its name (lengua, which means tongue in Spanish) from its shape.
Tarta de Bizcocho - Given bizcocho itself it a sponge cake, this cake is formed by layers of this sponge cake. It can have fillings of chocolate, frosting, or whipped cream.
Flauta chocolate - This is a puff pastry filled with chocolate; the factor that differentiates this dish is its shape as a flute.
Tarta de Crema y Almendras - This one is a cake made with a thick almond crust and layers of this almond crust alternated with layers of cream. It is topped with crushed almonds and served with whipped cream.
When I say dessert culture in Spain, I mean that it is tradition here to have a dessert everyday after lunch and after dinner. Obviously, the sweet treats above are not eaten every day. My host sisters here call for a dessert everyday after our two main meals together; they always shout postre ("dessert") when they are done eating and Laura hands them fruit, yogurt, chocolate, or one of the above (if it is a special day). People end their meals with something sweet, almost as if they are giving in to the anticipated sugar craving they will have later in the day.
I was absolutely blown away by the dessert culture in Europe, and I have learnt so many recipes along the way. I hope to bring back many of these with me, building on these recipes and adding my own touches.