Azúcar! 16 Traditional Cuban Desserts

Join us as we explore many of Cuba’s fabulous desserts.

Every location and culture genuinely put their heart and soul into their foods.

Many are familiar with many of Cuba’s most traditional foods but a culture’s real zest never comes out too clearly as in their desserts.

The sweet, smooth, and rich foods of Cuba’s desserts are sure to get you begging for a sample. 

Warning: Napkin alert! This article is likely to incite heavy drooling and salivation. Proceed at your own risk.

Keep reading for a list of Cuba’s most deliciously decadent desserts. 

1. Pastelitos – Cuban Pastries

Cuban Pastelitos
Cuban Pastelitos

Similar to strudel, the Cuban Pastry begins with a blanket of sweet and buttery crust.

But that’s just the beginning; the inside of the Pastry is filled with any sweet thing you could imagine.

Guava, coconuts, pineapple; custards and cream cheeses – these are the main things that make up the Cuban Pastry. 

The cream cheese resembles the texture and flavor of an American cheesecake fill.

Depending on how the Pastry is served, you will get a smooth coolness from the fill, or a warm pie-like feeling when eating. 

An interesting fact about the Cuban Pastry: it’s not just a dessert.

Sometimes, instead of using the sweet fills, the Pastry is stuffed with various meats and other savory foods. If you find you take a liking to the Cuban Pastry, you could eat one at every meal! Meat filled for dinner, and guava filled for dessert! 

This quality earns the Cuban Pastry the Swiss army knife badge of desserts. 

The history of the Cuban Pastry, like any food, is complicated. Foods are not usually just invented. They evolve and change. One thing is known for sure. The Cuban Pastry is a dish you don’t want to miss. 

2. Flan 

Cuban Flan Dessert
Cuban Flan Dessert

While this delicacy has origins in many parts of the world, namely the European areas, the Cuban version can not go unnoticed. Here’s what the Cuban Flan is all about. 

The Cuban Flan is a custard similar to crème Brule.

As a matter of fact, crème Brule is also a type of Flan. What makes the Cuban Flan so unique is their little secret. Instead of using regular milk, Cuban Flan used evaporated or condensed milk.

The result of this is a creamier Flan that has a very smooth feeling. 

In Cuba, they have a harder time getting fresh milk, so evaporated milk from a can is their go-to.

Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise, as their version of Flan is many people’s favorite. The Cuban Flan’s rich creaminess goes very well with a fresh fruit salad. 

As previously said, what makes the Cuban Flan unique is the evaporated milk. This is a perfect example of how food evolves over time. Different cultures each take their turn with the dessert, playing off each other’s strengths. Flan is an old dessert that was probably served back in ancient Rome. 

History, and a tremendous Cuban Dessert. 

3. Arroz con Leche – Cuban Rice Pudding 

Arroz con Leche Cuban Dessert
Traditional Arroz con Leche

This Cuban version of rice pudding is sure to put happiness in your belly.

With a consistency similar to warm tapioca and sweetness that with make your eyes lazy, Arroz con Leche is a sure thing for your palate. 

A warm cup of anything is beautiful on a chilly evening, but a warm cup of this rice pudding will change your day from excellent to “wow, this was a good day.”

With hints of cinnamon and vanilla, a bit of Cuban rice pudding is just right for the soul.

Something else about this Cuban rice pudding: It is made with condensed milk. Can you see a pattern forming?

Cuba has this one figured out. Rice pudding is enjoyed around the world, and Cuba has certainly thrown their hat in the game. 

4. Capuchinos 

These cone-shaped cakes are simple to make and easy to eat. A combination of egg yolks, cornflour, and sugar, this Cuban dessert with melt in your mouth.

Once you start eating them, you better have a red light nearby because all you’re going to want to do is go!

To make the Capuchino, bakers need to get an unusual cone-shaped pan. Sometimes, they even need to make these pans on their own, as they are hard to find. To make a good cappuccino takes time and skill. 

There is an art to properly rolling them out. The name, as you may have recognized, is similar to the cappuccino coffee. Both these edibles’ names came from some roman monks hats. Yeah. 

And, once these have finished baking, the cappuccino is soaked in a specially made syrup.

The sponge-like cake soaks in this goodness and leaves the eater with a taste similar to a perfect pancake slathered in fresh maple syrup. 

If you plan on making these yourself, you will need some time. However, you will be well rewarded with a Cuban specialty.

These delicious cakes would make a great alternative to a birthday cake for the family that wants to be creative. 

5. Bontiatillos 

This is a Cuban sweet potato pudding. If you are looking for a sweet potato substitute for thanksgiving, this could be your lucky day. The Cuban Bontiatillos is a vibrant and smooth way to prepare the sweet potato. 

As a dessert, you may find this to be quite a bit sweeter than a regular baked sweet potato. It may even turn some of those sweet potato haters back to the light. 

A few things to know about the Cuban Bontiatillo: 

  1. Some people call it the tropical sweat potato 
  2. It is not as sweet on its own as the American sweet potato 
  3. There different types of Cuban Bontiatillo

The hot sweet potato. It is said to be a bit more starchy than the northern sweet potato. Though the sweet potato on its own is not as sweet, the sweet potato pudding that is created is perfect. You will find your taste buds having increased respect for your judgment. 

Interesting fact: Some types of Cuban Bontatillo is made into a hardened candy. This is very different from what we might be generally used to, but it’s what makes the Cuban Bontatillo so unique! 

6. Empanadas – Traditional Cuban Apple Patty 

Cuban Apple Pastry Dessert
Cuban Apple Pastry Dessert

Previously mentioned, the Cuban culture is big on their Empanadas (fried turnover/pastry).

Filled with meats, creams, or fruits, they are all delicious in each unique flavors. But this one takes the pudding, or in this case, apples. 

Originating from the Latin culture, the Cuban Apple Patty only requires a few essential baking ingredients but is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The outside dough is made with flour, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and salt, creating the flakiest Pastry you’ve ever experienced.

The baker then folds the dough into a half-moon shape, and it is stuffed with the filling of your dreams; gooey apples and cinnamon sugar.

This isn’t like any old McDonalds Apple Pie you can grab through the drive-through.

This apple patty is a homemade delicacy of Cuba, and in a way, you could call it art.

From the way the dough is kneaded, then folded, and even how the corners are pinched to seal in all of the delicious fillings. 

The result is a dessert you’ll keep coming back for, which is why it is one of the most famous Cuban desserts, it’s just that good! The apple patty can be enjoyed at any time of day, but most prefer it as an after-supper treat. 

7. Churros 

Cuban Churros served with dulce de leche
Cuban Churros served with dulce de leche

When you hear the word ‘Churro,’ your mind may instantly go to the fairground, where the Ferris wheel spins, music plays, and kids run around with treats in hand. Treats, such as churros.

The history of the Churro didn’t evolve in a fairground, though. It is a bit fuzzy as to where they originally came from.

Some say its deep roots come from China, mimicking the Chinese Pastry called, ‘youotaio’ (Chinese fried dough). Others believe it comes from the old Spaniard sheepherders, who would fry up bread on the mountainside for an easy snack. 

Regardless of the uncertainty of its history, the Cubans adopted the Churro as their own.

Who wouldn’t, though? In one dessert, the Churro serves the taste buds in three different ways.

You’ve got bread dough, fried in oil, and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, a sweet and savory treat that hits you just right. 

Requiring only six ingredients, you can find an easy recipe online to make your churros, and the process of making them is quite simple;

  1. Make your dough
  2. With a pastry bag or churrera, form the shape of a churro (most look like a breadstick) onto a piece of parchment paper
  3. Place the dough in hot oil and fry for a few minutes on each side until lightly brown
  4. Remove from oil and let cool on a rack
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar

Some Cubans enjoy this delicious treat as in. But others find it even more enjoyable dipped in hot chocolate, or stuffed with dulce de leche or condensed milk.

There are many ways you can enjoy a churro, all based on preference. They make the perfect snack or even just an after-dinner treat! 

8. Turrón

Cuban Christmas Dessert Turron
Traditinal Cuban Christmas Dessert Turron

Another traditional Cuban dessert sure to get your mouth watering is Turrón, which originated from Spain as a celebratory Christmas nougat (A Nougat being a candy made from the same ingredients as Turrón). 

What is a Turrón you may be wondering? Well, the word ‘Torrar’ is Latin for ‘roasting.’ In this case, we’re talking about the roasted nuts that are incorporated into this dessert.

Turrón comes in many shapes, consistencies, and flavors. But the main ingredients consisting of honey, sugar, egg whites, and toasted nuts.

There are two different types of Turrón; Turrón de Jijona is the soft kind and Turrón de Alicante, which is the hard type. 

Commonly used nuts are ground up almonds, pistachios, and or sometimes hazelnuts.  Although everyone has their way of making Turrón, so any nuts will work. 

9. Pastel De Mango – Cuban Mango Cake 

This Cuban cake is the stuff of summer parties and family gatherings. A tropical taste gives your tongue something to remember on those late August nights.

There is no fakeness about the Cuban Mango cake – as the name implies, this cake is made from real mangos. 

A fun fact about the Cuban Mango cake – it is typically made from the mangoes people grow in their backyards. People who live in warmer climates often have mango trees on their property, which makes it easy to go from tree to plate. 

If you want to make one yourself, you’re in luck, because the mango cake isn’t hard to create at home.

There are a ton of great recipes online. One decision you’ll have to make: what will you use for the frosting? Cream cheese can be used, or coconut-based spread. Try them out and see which one gives you the best feeling. 

Cream cheese will draw this cake to a more familiar taste, while the coconut will keep with the tropical theme! 

10. Piña Asada – Cuban Grilled Pineapple 

This simplicity of this Cuban dessert is what makes it so profound. Grilled pineapple is delicious on its own, but it can also be the perfect accouterment for pound cake or even ice cream.

First, you coat each cut of pineapple with butter and the syrup of your choice, and then you place them on the grill until toasted to your liking. The slight grilling gives the pineapple a savory taste. 

Not only is this an easy dessert, but it’s one that will represent hospitality. Keeps the creativity going in their desserts with this tropical treat. 

11. Candied Grapefruit Peel 

If you thought the grilled pineapple was unique, this Cuba dessert might make a run for first place. The candied grapefruit peel hart a subtle tartness. The sugar and candied properties help to smooth out the sharp grapefruit bitterness. 

If you want to make this at home, then all you’ll need is a grapefruit, some sugar, ginger, and water. It will take a little bit of time, as you must first boil the grapefruit in water and then let them sit once you’ve saturated them in a sugary syrup. 

However, the wait is worth it. Because in the end, you will be left with a unique Cuban sweet treat that is sure to impress your friends and relatives. 

There isn’t a lot of information available on the origin of the candied grapefruit peel. But, one thing is for sure, it’s a great way to reuse any often discarded item. You are essentially turning trash into treasure! 

12. Café con Leche Custard 

This is a Cuban coffee custard. It is made with coffee, evaporated milk, flour and egg – café con Leche custard is sweet, and it will give a kick. The taste is smooth.

The flavor can have hints of vanilla. The whipped topping covers a good heart that is rich with coffee. This cold custard would be a great dessert on a warm summer night.

You can top your Café Con Leche with anything that catches your fancy. A cherry, some chocolate drizzle, or bits of shortbread.

The great thing about Cuban desserts is how versatile they are. You can add them to just about anything, and you’ll have yourself a better night. 

The café con Leche might even be eaten in the morning – the kick of caffeine will remind you of your little treat until three in the afternoon, when you crash – and need another! 

13. Cazuela de Platano – Cuban Banana Casserole 

For our final Cuban dessert, we will be looking at the Cazuela de platano – a casserole made with bananas. If you’re a banana lover, then this is most definitely for you.

At the base is the bananas; however, they are not alone. Slathered with butter and sprinkled with pecans, you will get a lot more than just bananas with this fruit-themed dessert.

Some recipes call for brown sugar. This will give you bananas a caramel taste that is sure to speed up the eating process.

If you want, you can go for a more banana split feel and add ice cream. The first rule of desserts: when in doubt, add ice cream. 

14. Merenguitos

With only two ingredients, egg whites and sugar, Merenguitos are one of Cuba’s easiest desserts to make. the simplest yet most elegant desserts to make.

Merenguitos is a light and crunchy dessert with a sweet and light flavor. 

They go perfect with traditional Cuban coffee after your Ropa Vieja or Vaca Frita.

15. Torticas de Moron

Torticas de Moron
Torticas de Moron

Hailing from the city of Moron in central Cuba, Torticas de Moron are a traditional shortbread lime zest cookies.

Typically, these Cuban sugar cookies are made with lard but butter can be used in its place.

Usually guava is added to the center of Torticas de Moron but other fruits will do as well.

16. Tres Leches

Traditional Cuban Dessert Tres Leches Cake
Traditional Cuban Dessert Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leche, when translated to English, means “three kinds of milk.”

This famous Latin American dessert is a sponge cake comprised of three types of milk.

These include condensed milk, fresh full-flat milk, and evaporated milk.

An absolute dream when served with a cup of strong Latin coffee. 

It’s rich and tasteful, with a thin topping of whipped cream and on occasion, sprinkled crushed nuts.

Final Thoughts

 

Cuban flag, coffee & cigar
Cuban flag, coffee & cigar

Thank you for taking the time to explore our list of delicious Cuban desserts.

We’ve covered desserts of all shapes and sizes.

Cakes, pastries, fruits, and custards – if you’re looking for a way to liven up your dessert game, then these Cuban desserts should be just the trick. 

Remember, when eating or preparing any of these desserts, feel free to be creative and try something new.

Maybe there’s another combination that would make the dish perfect for your family. 

Grandma didn’t get her secret ingredient from always following the recipe; she made some mistakes and tried something new. That’s what food is all about. 

Be sure to share these ideas with your friend and family – if you aren’t the cooking type, but would love to give these desserts a try, look up your local Cuban serving restaurant. 

You’ll have no regrets.

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t forget to end you meal with some Cuban coffee!

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