5 Fun and Easy South American Desserts

As you begin to explore South American cuisine, the variety of desserts with unusual names and flavors can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many of them are easy to prepare. The recipes in this list are traditional, popular desserts that can be made at home with great success, perfect for your first foray into South American pastry.

  • 01 of 05

    Alfajores (Caramel Sandwich Cookies)


    Rebecca T. Caro / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Alfajores are a passion for South Americans and with good reason. Once you have tasted a good one, it is hard not to become obsessed with them. We recommend to try them everywhere you go and try to search for the best one. Alfajores are sandwich cookies: they have two crispy, not too sweet cookies and a filling of dulce de leche, a caramelized milk confection.

  • 02 of 05

    Pastel de Tres Leches (Tres Leches Cake)

    Tres Leches Cake

    Hungry Dudes / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Everyone loves tres leches cake. It's a sponge cake drenched in a mixture of cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk, and then iced with meringue or whipped cream and fresh fruit. It's so popular in Latin America that you can find many variations of it, with extra ingredients such as coconut, chocolate, rum, or dulce de leche.

  • 03 of 05

    Mousse De Maracuyá (Passion Fruit Mousse)

    Banana passion fruit mousse

    Walter Schärer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    You will find many kinds of tropical fruit mousses and mousse cakes in South American bakeries. They are even more popular than chocolate mousse. Serve this delicious mousse with fresh fruit, or use as a filling for a cake.

  • 04 of 05

    Brazilian Brigadeiros

    Brazilian Brigadeiros

    Ricardo / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Like so many South American treats, these little fudge truffle balls have a story in Brazil—they were named after a famous 1940's Brigadier General named Eduardo Gomes, who apparently loved chocolate. They have a caramel and chocolate flavor that's unusual and good. Kids will enjoy helping to make these, and it's traditional to serve them in little paper cups.

    Small desserts served in pretty little cups are something of a tradition in South America. Alfajor cookies can be made to fit perfectly into these, and many other candy-like desserts, such as Brazilian coconut flan (quindin), and the Peruvian marzipan-like candy called maná.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Picarones (Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Doughnuts)


    G M / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    If this was a North American recipe, it would surely be a Thanksgiving or Halloween treat. Crispier than a true doughnut, picarones are deep-fried rings of spiced pumpkin and sweet potato yeast batter, served with a spiced molasses syrup. They are amazingly different and delicious. The picarones themselves are not very sweet, but the fruity molasses syrup contrasts perfectly with the rich flavors of the pumpkin and sweet potato.