The door jingled as my husband and I ducked inside the Super Cream Bakery to escape the pouring rain. "Hola" said the smiling dark-haired woman behind the counter. Several customers milled about the small bakery crammed with display cases, piñatas, and other party supplies. I had heard the rumors of the bakery's amazing authentic desserts, and by the advice of a local Facebook food group we decided to check it out on a whim. We looked at each other with delight, and knew we hit the jackpot.
The cases that lined the wall were filled with an assortment of unfamiliar but delicious looking pastries and baked goods. Laminated papers hung from a ring nearby that gave names and explanations of each delicacy for those foreign to the selections. We grabbed a metal tray, and got to work filling it with a mysterious assortment of goodies, anxious to discover what filled each.
Satisfied with our array, we moved on to a refrigerated case loaded with beautiful cakes adorned with fresh fruit and drizzled with chocolate. Ogling over the contents we fought the temptation to go home with a whole cake, and instead settled on three selections available by the slice— traditional tres leches, chocolate flan cake, and dulce de leche roll cake.
We paid for our haul and quickly headed out the door shocked at how cheap everything was considering the number of items we purchased compared to other local bakeries. When we returned home we carefully unwrapped our treasures and got to tasting, attempting not to put ourselves in a sugar coma from our Mexican sweets marathon.
What we Tried
1. Chocolate Flan
Flan, now one of Mexico's most popular desserts, originated during the Roman Empire. The Romans found themselves in an egg surplus during that time, and began experimenting with creating new egg-based dishes; and flan was born. It was most commonly served as a savory dish, but versions sweetened with honey grew in popularity as the Romans conquered Europe. The Spanish were particular taken with this custard-like dessert and took it with them as they too conquered new lands. In 1518, it made it's way to Mexico when the famous conquistador Hernán Cortés landed in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
The Mexicans continued experimenting with the dessert, introducing chocolate, coconut and coffee to it, as well as this modern hybrid version that combines traditional flan with rich chocolate cake. Out of everything we tried, this one was one of my favorites. The lightness of the custard paired with the sweetness of the chocolate was the perfect combination.
2. Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches cake or ("three milks cake"), is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. While the origin is unknown, it is believed that the recipe is reported to have come from the back of an evaporated milk or condensed milk can in Latin America to promote the use of the product in the 1900s.
My first time trying this cake, I expected it to be mushy from being soaked in the milks, instead, I was greeted by a deliciously moist cake topped with cloud-like whipped cream frosting. It's the type of cake that satisfies your sweet tooth without leaving you feeling overly guilty from the indulgence.
3. Dulce de Leche Roll Cake
This versatile cake is believed to have been discovered by an Italian monk while visiting monasteries in Egypt. He fell in love with the cake and brought the recipe with him to Spain where it became known as "brazo egipciano" or "Egyptian Arm". As with many traditional foods, the recipe made its way to new lands as Spain formed Spanish colonies in Latin America. In Mexico, they call it the "niño envuelto" or "wrapped-up child" and it is traditionally filled with a custard like cream and covered in sugar or chocolate. The version we tried was filled with a light dulce de leche caramel filling and frosted with the same light whipped frosting used on the tres leches cake.
Novias are also known as pan dulce or a type of sweet bread pastry. The name novias translates to "girlfriend," and was named due to the technique used in making this treat. The topping is scored into radiating circular lines or rolled into a circular shape, mimicking the layers of a voluminous skirt. The one we tried was a lightly sweetened crispy dough topped with sugar. A perfect breakfast treat with coffee.
A galleta is simply a cookie. This one was a basic sugar cookie topped with delightful colored sprinkles. The cookie itself was crunchy and not overly sweet with a strong but not overpowering vanilla essence coming through.
6. Empanada de Pina
Pineapple is one of the most common fillings used in sweet empanadas, and these didn't disappoint. Reminiscent of a hand pie, the dough used for the empanada is slightly sweetened, then stuffed with a tangy pineapple filling with a hint of cinnamon and brushed with an egg wash for a lovely shiny appearance. Utterly delicious. Besides, since they have fruit, they can't be that bad for your right?
7. Empanada de Crema a la Vainilla
Similar to their sister empanada, this one instead was filled with a wonderful vanilla cream that oozed out with every bite. Sweet and creamy, it's no wonder it's one of the most popular dessert empanadas in Mexico!
8. Mantecada de Nuez
Another of Mexico's famous sweet breads, the mantecada de nuez is very similar to an American muffin. It's dense texture lends perfectly for a fruit topping or being dipped in coffee. This one was topped with walnuts and sugar and baked in a fun star shape.
9. Rolled Pineapple Pastry
This pastry was almost identical to the pineapple empanada, only rolled differently and with a slightly more crisp texture.
10. Sugar Cookie
Last but not least is the humble sugar cookie. Crispy and sugary just as it should be and always tasty. You can't go wrong with a good classic sugar cookie.
After surviving the Mexican sweets marathon, my favorite treat hands down was the flan/chocolate cake hybrid. But anything that includes chocolate is always a winner in my book. What are some of your must-try Mexican desserts?