12 Sweet Ways To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
We're ditching tequila and lime for Cinco de Mayo this year and trading them for something sweeter. We picked out 12 Mexican dessert recipes for an authentic celebration.
While the default in the United States is to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by swilling margaritas and scarfing taco bowls, this year we want to celebrate Mexico more sweetly: With authentic Mexican dessert recipes. We picked 12 Mexican desserts that shine a dulcet light on our neighbors to the south.
Horchata Ice Cream
This recipe takes the classic Mexican rice drink and chills it into a brilliant summer dessert. The recipe uses the traditional method for making horchata: toasting rice, almonds, and cinnamon, then steeping it all in half and half before churning it into ice cream. But if that's too much for you, there's no shame in using pre-made horchata. The one caveat is that this recipe does require an ice cream machine. (But if you're looking for a no-churn recipe, we have a recipe for Coconut Horchata Paletas, which are Mexican popsicles.)
Mexican Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream
As long as we're on the topic of no-churn ice cream, let us present to you: Mexican Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. It's not totally authentic, but Mexican hot chocolate in May doesn't make a lot of sense. Also: ice cream. Also: easy. How so? Well, this recipe combines unsweetened cocoa powder and cinnamon (to make it Mexican chocolate) along with cream of coconut and Greek yogurt. It's then frozen overnight and —voila!— you have ice cream for a sunny May day.
Raspado De Mango (Mango Ice)
Raspados are Mexican shaved ice with fresh fruit. If you get raspados from a shop, there are lots of ways to customize it: You can get it mixed with sweetened condensed milk, topped with ice cream, or mixed with spicy candy, but this recipe is pretty simple. Mango juice, sugar, and salt are boiled down before mixing in more mango juice and lime juice. It's then frozen for a few hours and it's ready to go!
Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
This is a tres leches cake for chocolate lovers. The method for making this is almost exactly like a classic tres leches only with the addition of cocoa powder: The cake batter is made with meringue, a cocoa-flour mixture, and egg yolks all baked together and then soaked in a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream before being topped with chocolate whipped cream. It might be gilding the lily, but we don't shy away from decadence when we're celebrating.
This recipe is made of Tex-Mex memories. You may know all about sopapilla cheesecake but that is an American modification of the original fried favorite. This sopapilla (or sopaipilla) is what you'll find in Mexico, but it's also very common in the American Southwest. It's basically fried dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar and drizzled with honey. It's very simple, but it's a treat people look forward to the same way they do for a hot fudge sundae or chocolate cake.
Paletas De Fresas Con Crema
Strawberries and cream might just be the first signs of summer that doubles as a treat in the form of paletas (popsicles) for Cinco de Mayo. These are made with crema Mexicana (similar to crème fraîche), fresh strawberries, powdered sugar, and milk. It's all mixed together and poured into small paper cups to be frozen for a cool and sweet treat to welcome the warmer months and celebrate Mexican culture.
Cocadas - Mexican Coconut Candies
If you're looking for a quick and easy Mexican dessert, cocadas are a portable option. Cocadas are very similar to coconut macaroons and just as easy to make. Recipes and ingredients vary, but this is a simple recipe that only requires dulce de leche, macadamia nuts, and shredded coconut. All you do is mix together the ingredients, shape them into balls, and bake.
Buñuelos (Mexican Fritters)
Buñuelos are kind of like flour tortillas that are fried until crispy and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (Taco Bell used to have a version of buñuelos called Cinnamon Crispas). They're common Mexican street food around Christmas in the form of buñuelos de viento which requires a special metal mold. Recipes for regular round buñuelos vary in difficulty — some call for leftover flour tortillas — but this recipe uses fresh dough fried in a shallow pan.
Flan is a custard dessert vaguely similar to crème brûlée and, like many Mexican dishes, flan originated in the Old World and was brought to North America by Spaniards. Like crème brûlée, flan is baked in caramel-lined ramekins nestled in a water bath, but to serve the flan, the ramekins are inverted so the custard slips out and the caramel sauce is "revealed." This recipe is about as classic as creamy flan gets but there are other flavors to explore like chocolate or coconut flan made with coconut milk.
Extra Creamy Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)
Most cultures have a version of rice pudding — typically it's a dessert designed to use up leftover rice, so recipes call for cooked rice. This arroz con leche is different from other rice puddings in that it calls for uncooked rice along with regular milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla creamer, and egg yolks. Not all arroz con leche recipes use three kinds of milks (tres leches rice pudding!), but if given a choice between regular and extra-creamy, we'll take extra-creamy.
Sweet Corn Cake / Pan De Elote
You might be familiar with "elote" as Mexican street corn which is corn on the cob smeared with crema and/or mayonnaise and rolled in cotija (crumbly cheese). In this case, fresh corn is pureed in a blender and combined with a batter made of a little bit of flour, a lot of sugar, butter, and egg yolks. Whipped egg whites are then folded into the mixture and baked for a sweet corn cake.
Churros are a dessert with ancient Asian origins introduced to the New World via Spain, but they have a permanent spot on Mexican menus and are a common street food. They're kind of like long doughnuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar or dipped in chocolate. They're not difficult to make, but they do require deep-frying (which can be done in a Dutch oven). This is a solid recipe, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, you can make them mini churros.
If we've given you enough Mexican dessert recipes and you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with savory dishes, we have dozens of Mexican recipes to explore so you can make your celebration authentic.