It is World Bread Day again and this time I brought you some sweet pastry from Argentina, facturas argentinas! Facturas argentinas can be described as the typical sweet pastry you may have for breakfast or as a snack. All bakeries offer an abudance of different options, they are typically either filled with quince paste (dulce de membrillo), the caramel dulce de leche, or a custard cream. They come in different shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is the same dough, rough puff pastry. Actually, it seems to be impossible to find the proper English translation. In German we say “Plunderteig”, which means it is a yeast dough, which usually has butter layers in between. The rough part in this version, however, comes from the fact that the butter is not worked into the dough as a single layer, but instead mixed into the yeast dough directly and later layered. It probably is described best as rough plunder.
Warning, these classic empanadas from Colombia are a labor of love. If you are going to make everything from scratch like I did, you will need a few hours. However, one of the good things about empanadas is that you can prepare a lot in advance. You may wish to make the filling and/or the dough one to two days prior and then “only” need to fill and fry the empanadas the following day. But before we get into the details, what are empanadas exactly? Empanadas are dumplings, each Latin American country has its own variation, heck, every region and city will be proud of their particular empanadas. Since I was born in Uruguay, I am used to empanadas made with wheat flour. The traditional filling in Uruguay is beef (duh) and they are usually baked in the oven. Yes, of course I have a recipe for Uruguayan empanadas on my blog. Colombian empanadas on the other hand are made with cornmeal, if using the right one, they will be gluten-free. Most of the time they are not baked in the oven, but deep-fried. The filling varies, some use a piece of meat that is later pulled apart, I simply decided to use already minced meat. One particularity of Colombia is the “guiso” or “hogao”, this is a thick sauce made of tomatoes, spring onions, onions and herbs that are typically mixed with the meat filling. This makes them Colombian.
Updated recipe in 2022 with clearer instructions and more options
I love meringue. I got to love meringue at a very late stage. Maybe because I feel meringue doesn’t play a very important role in the baking industry. But even though it was late love, merengón from Colombia is the best. It consists of three layers, meringue, whipped cream and a layer of fruit sauce. Easy to prepare, wonderful to look at and once you take the first bite, you will be in heaven, melts in your mouth and has a nice tangy aftertaste due to the fruits. Really a fairy dream!
Pandebonos are the Colombian answer to the Brazilian pao de queijo, these little cheese puffs do not require any flour and are thus gluten-free. I already published one recipe on the blog, which requires mozzarella and feta to replace the Colombian cheese queso campesino. This variation uses farmer’s cheese and a quince paste. Normally Colombians make the paste from guava instead, this guava paste is called bocadillo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.