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Latin American Recipes

Meringue Cake from Mexico or mostachón de fresas

Mostachón de fresas, mexikanischer Kuchen

Today we have a Mexican cake from the north called “mostachón de fresas.” Its base is a nut-based meringue (including crackers) a cream-cheese topping and of course strawberries. I learned that you can basically decorate with any kind of fruit. In Mexico mangos are pretty popular, but I figured since we have strawberry season and strawberries are also popular for this cake, I would stick to the traditional version. It may sound like a strange combination, especially the salty crackers, but my husband and me loved it.

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Arepas con Queso or Corn Flatbread with Cheese Filling from Colombia

Arepas con queso

I am happy to say that through the movie “Encanto” finally people are learning about Colombian arepa con queso, a gluten-free flatbread made from corn and filled with lots of cheese. So today I am going to present my version of this Colombian staple to you. Arepas are a popular dish in Colombia, you will find many different versions, thick, thin, crispy, with fillings (such as cheese or egg) and at any time of  the year. It can be served for breakfast, as a snack, as a side, or even as the main dish. I already introduced the basic recipe for arepas previously. Filled arepas are more common in Venezuela, I also have a recipe on my blog of filled arepas with chicken and guacamole. But today I am presenting arepas with cheese, because Colombians love anything with cheese. I may be mistaken, but arepas with cheese are probably the most popular kind of arepa and will usually be received with excitement.

Arepas con queso aus Kolumbien

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Flan de Piña or Pineapple Flan

Flan de piña oder Ananasflan

Do you know flan, a custard famous throughout all of Latin America? Flan is mainly made from milk and eggs, try to imagine a steamed custard, creamy and with a caramel topping. I already introduced the classic flan here. In Uruguay vanilla flan is served with dulce de leche on the side, so if you want a bit more of the caramel flavor, that might be for you. I also have a recipe from Mexico on this blog, chocoflan is a mix of flan and a chocolate cake. Chocoflan is also called the impossible cake as the two layers change during baking. Today I am introducing you to flan de piña, aka pineapple flan. The custard has a distinct pineapple flavor and is served with a thin layer of caramel on top.

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Coconut Cake from Venezuela: Bienmesabe

Bienmesabe aus Venezuela

This coconut cake from Venezuela is called “bienmesabe” (this tastes delicious) for a good reason. If you are a coconut lover, this cake is for you. Coconut sponge is filled with a coconut cream and then covered in meringue and toasted coconut flakes. Not really sure if you can corporate even more coconut flavor into a cake.

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Chocoflan or the Impossible Cake from Mexico

Chocoflan aus Mexiko

Today I am offering to you an impossible cake from Mexico. Why is it called impossible? Because the two layers (flan and chocolate cake) reverse during baking. Sounds spooky? It actually is spooky, but I can tell you, it does work. I swear, I did first fill the bundt cake form with chocolate cake and later poured the flan on top. Once I flipped the cooled-off cake over, the flan was again on top, super weird. For that reason this cake is called impossible, because it makes the impossible possible. And as it is a tasty cake, I don’t mind presenting it to you here. Flan is a type of custard, very typical in Latin America, it was brought by the Spaniards. The chocolate cake is a rather straightforward affair.

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Chocotorta from Argentina

Chocotorta aus Argentinien

Chocotorta is a cake from Argentina that is typically served on birthdays. Usually it does not require for you to turn on the oven as it basically contains store-bought cookies (called “chocolinas” in Argentina), the caramel cream dulce de leche, and cream cheese. If you have these ingredients at hand, you can already prepare a simple chocotorta. I included a chocolate ganache on top of this, but that is optional. However, my recipe below also includes making the cookies from scratch and for that reason we are going to turn on the oven after all.

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Colombian Tamales

Kolumbianische tamales

Today I am introducing Colombian tamales. This means an assortment of meat and corn mash, which is steamed in wrapped banana leaves for about an hour. I don’t think you can imagine how nervous I was when I found out that the local produce owner here in Munich actually could get me fresh banana leaves. So far I had only eaten tamales on vacation in Colombia. Usually they are served for breakfast and devoured with Colombian hot chocolate. However, since this is a savory dish, it will also taste great as the main course for dinner. I had often wondered whether it was possible to make them in Germany. But since I had not seen banana leaves being sold anywhere, I had not attempted Colombian tamales. This was over now! Finally I got hold of banana leaves! And I quickly learned why tamales are usually prepared by the entire family and not one person only. Preparing the tamales definitely was a full-family business. I had listened to stories of Colombians who had nothing else to do than to put their index finger on the yarn so that the designated mom/grandma/aunt could be sure that the tamales were sealed all proper. That was their entire job for the small children, nothing else. Since making tamales does require quite a bit of work and contains many components, usually they are made in large batches, anything below 15 tamales is not worth the effort. And if you keep in mind that Colombian families are large and include many more people than only the nucleus family, it does make sense to prepare 30 or more. Making Colombian tamales felt to me like an accolade of the highest nature and thus I was nervous of whether I could achieve this as a German who happened to be married to a Colombian.

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Colombian Christmas Traditions and Recipes

Buñuelos aus Kolumbien

Today I have the honor of introducing to you Colombian Christmas, rituals, and customs. Of course I am going to introduce to you typical Colombian recipes for Christmas as well. I by no means consider this extensive and is more based on my personal experience. As a German I can say though that Colombian Christmas is happier, louder, and more carefree than German Christmas. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Germans usually meet with their nucleus family; during these short winter days you need to be at home behind closed doors. Colombians, on the other hand, are found travelling in large groups to relatives, Christmas celebrations can start at 30 people or more, you may encounter a birthday cake for Jesus and see Colombians dancing Salsa happily. Of course the food plays an important role as well. Usually you will find a large amount of people being involved in some food preparation as it requires many hours of labor. By the way, New Year’s Eve is not that different from Christmas, usually Colombians will visit one side of the family on Christmas, and the other on New Year’s. Prepare yourself for eating large amounts of food. But let’s first get started with Christmas in Colombia!

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Natilla from Colombia

Natillas aus Kolumbien

Do you want to make a Colombian happy during the holidays? I have a very simple solution for you, just make him or her natilla, this is an easy milk custard, which doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. Natilla is, and this was confirmed by many Colombians, beside the deep-fried cheese balls buñuelos THE most Colombian Christmas snack. Yes, you read right, Colombians don’t necessarily have a main dish they associate with Christmas, instead it is the snacks, which are served beforehand which are dear to them. The most common ones being said milk custard named natilla or the buñuelos, which are deep-fried cheese balls. These are served throughout the season and on the 24th the very latest.

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Pastafrola or Quince Tart from Uruguay

Pastafrola oder pasta frola aus Uruguay

Pastafrola or pasta frola is a tart from Uruguay, it is similar to Linzer Torte. It is based on a pie crust, which is then filled with quince paste. A simple tart on the one hand, yet also unusual as it uses quinces for the filling. I often wonder why there are so few recipes out there with quince? At least here in Germany it is really hard to find. Quince is a very common fruit in Uruguay. Dulce de membrillo or quince paste is basically dense jam, which comes in squares and can be cut in pieces. However, in Germany you may find quince jam, but even that is super hard to find. So for that reason you will either need to buy quince paste on Amazon or you will need to make quince paste yourself. Funnily enough, quinces are sold in grocery stores in Germany, so you may have a chance.

Pastafrola oder pasta frola aus Uruguay

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