Colombian desserts are enjoying some what of a renaissance in recent years. Over the years they've often been missed, but it's time for them to enjoy some of the limelight.
What you don't realise until you arrive in Bogota is that Colombians have a serious sweet tooth. Rarely will they sign off a meal without something sweet to top it off. And even if Colombian desserts aren't your bag, there's always the long list of exotic fruits.
Here’s a quick rundown of the some of the finest Colombian desserts on offer along with where to try them in Bogota.
Avenida 9, 126A.
Colombian desserts don't get better than arequipa. Similar to dulce de leche in Argentina and manjar in Chile, this thick caramel spread is popular all over Latin America. Made by slowly heating sweetened milk, arequipe is perhaps the most famous Colombian dessert on this list and is often the accompaniment of other desserts.
One of the most common options is to stuff brevas figs with the sweet spread and serve them as an on-the-go Colombian dessert from food stalls or as part of a sit-down meal in a restaurant. To try authentically homemade brevas con arequipe in Bogotá, head north to Postres Vicky on Avenida 6.
Translated as “triple milk cake”, this favourite Colombian dessert is made by soaking an exquisitely soft sponge in three different kinds of milk - condensed, evaporated and table cream.
The original recipe calls for a vanilla base topped with meringue-like icing and a cherry (or other fruit) to finish things off, but chefs around the country have come to experiment with chocolate, coffee and coconut flavourings as well.
For one of the best spots to try one of these sumptuous Colombian desserts in the capital, swing by Myriam Camhion on Calle 77. This small luxury cake shop has been in business for more than 30 years so they know a thing or two about desserts.
One of the most beloved Colombian desserts. This is a take on the classic rice pudding dish, arroz con leche is made by soaking cooked rice in milk for several hours, before combining it with condensed milk, cinnamon and sugar and bringing the mixture to a gentle boil. After stewing for around an hour, the rice is then left to thicken into a tasty mulch and served cold, perhaps with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dollop of arequipe.
This Colombian dessert is so famous and ubiquitous that you’ll surely find it in almost any Bogotá restaurant or café, but we recommend heading to Sopas de Mamá y Postres de la Abuela ('Mum’s Soups and Grandma’s Desserts') on Carrera 14.
These airy Colombian desserts are the country's answer to the doughnut, though a roscón is generally far bigger and fluffier than its American counterpart. They are made from baked white flour and filled with gooey fillings such as arequipe, guava paste or cream, then topped with sugar, nuts or sweets. You’ll never look at a ring-shaped snack in the same way again.
What better place to try a roscón than in one dedicated entirely to them? La Rosconería along Calle 119B in the Usaquen neighbourhood takes this snack to the next level, throwing in all kinds of toppings on the roscón like Nutella, blackberries, cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes and whatever else you can imagine, although not all at the same time.
The obleas is another of the country's ubiquitous Colombian desserts you can find on most street corners. One or two giant round wafers are slathered with arequipe, marmalade, grated cheese and nata (cream) and they’re served both open top (just one wafer) or as a kind of sweet sandwich (with two wafers).
Want to try the same obleas which turned the Rolling Stones’ frontman onto this tasty Colombian treat? Head to Obleas Mick Jagger on Calle 53 to sample the fare that Jagger allegedly tried many moons ago and see if you can’t get some satisfaction.
Ak. 15 #12773
Meaning “thousand leaves”, milhoja is a mouth-watering cake made from multiple layers of puff pastry stacked one on top of the other. In between the pastry, there are lashings of arequipe, cream, icing or white chocolate, creating one of the most decadent Colombian desserts.
To locate some of the best milhojas in all of Colombia, it’s advisable to go straight to the source - Alpina Market. This dairy company has outlets all over the capital offering a many Colombian desserts, but their milhoja is the best in town.
Part frozen dessert, part fruit cocktail and part chilled drink, cholados are one of the best Colombian desserts for a hot summer day. There are many variations on the theme, but a typical cholado contains crushed or shaved ice mixed with condensed milk, fresh fruit, shredded coconut and whipped cream. Passionfruit, blackberries and cherries are all common flavourings for this thirst-quenching indulgence.
A strong contender for cholados is a business that is 100% dedicated to them, so the Cholao Factory on the corner of Calle 134 comes highly recommended. With a long menu of flavours on offer, you can pretty much build your own Colombian dessert at this popular hotspot.
Plaza el Restrepo
Perhaps a simpler variation on the cholado theme, salpicones de frutas are basically a Colombian fruit salad in a glass. With so many tropical fruits on offer, it’s unsurprising that the locals base much of their Colombian desserts around them. Here, fresh fruit is chopped, drowned in soda and topped off with condensed milk or cream and is often eaten as a breakfast food as well as a dessert.
One of the most famous and varied fruit salad options in Bogotá is to be found at Doña Mercedes at the Plaza el Restrepo. Here, the proprietor has used the same recipe for decades, offering 17 fruits including mango, kiwi, apple, grape, strawberry and melon, among many others.
This Colombian dessert, whose name means “marriage” in Spanish, is a perfect (if unlikely) union of cuajado (a type of cheese made from sheep or cow’s milk), arequipe and berry sauce. The cheese can either be mixed with eggs and condensed milk and baked into a cake, or simply drizzled over it.
Out of all the Colombian desserts, this is one of the firm favourites. Try La Puerta Falsa on Calle 11 which makes an excellent matrimonio.
Meringues might be predominantly associated with French, Italian and Swiss gastronomy, but they also make one of the most popular Colombian desserts. Given the country's bountiful variety of fruit, it’s unsurprising that their take on the dessert features guayabana, blackberries, strawberries, peaches and other exotic treats, atop crunchy layers of meringue concealing mountains of whipped cream inside.
For a more tropical twist on the theme, head to Mini Malin on Calle 57 where they do a merengón topped with cupuaçu (the national fruit of Brazil) and chocolate sauce. They also stock a range of other traditional Colombian desserts with creative flourishes if you're hungry for more.
Synonymous with the festive period, natilla is one of the most popular Colombian desserts at Christmas and will form an integral part of any Yuletide feast. The dessert resembles something halfway between a bowl of custard and a plate of flan, made from milk, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar and flour. It’s decorated with powdered cinnamon and occasionally raisins or grated coconuts.
The best way to experience natilla traditionally is to make it from scratch with the guiding hand of a Colombian cook, but it can also be pre-bought from shops and stores across the country, as well as in plenty of restaurants. In Bogotá, try Endulza tu Paseoon the corner of Carrera 13.
Puente Avenida Calle 45
Another Colombian dessert that's popular during the Christmas season. Torta negra is equivalent to the Christmas cake found in many other parts of the world and made from a heady mixture of chocolate, fruit, nuts, almonds, wine, rum and spices.
Again, part of the fun of the torta negra is creating it from scratch at home, but excellent pre-made Colombian desserts are baked by Toledo Pasteleria, which has outlets all over Bogotá. The nearest to the centre is along Puente Avenida Calle 45.
Still confused about the best Colombian desserts? Why not hop on this daily Bogota food tour and let an expert local foodie guide show you the ropes? Over four hours, you'll dive into the capital's superb food scene that includes plenty of Colombian desserts.
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