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The Sweeter Side of Mexico

The Sweeter Side of Mexico

Pulling together some of our best Mexican recipes for desserts and refreshments.

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Table of Contents

  • Agua de Melon

    Agua de Melon Agua de Melon

    Agua de Melon

    If you've ever been to a Mexican market or an authentic Mexican restaurant, you may be familiar with aguas frescas. The term literally means "fresh waters" and they're a delightful and refreshing fruit drink.
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    Serves

    1

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 ripe cantaloupe
    • 1/4 cup sugar, dissolved in warm water
    • 1 cup cold water
    • 1/2 lime, juiced (optional)
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    Directions

    Step 1

    Begin by dissolving the quarter-cup of sugar in a half cup of warm water to create a simple syrup. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature.

    Step 2

    Cut the cantaloupe into small cubes and put it into the blender with 1 cup of water until it's completely liquified.

    Step 3

    Place a fine mesh sieve over a pitcher and pour the contents of the blender through it. Use a spoon to press any remaining juice through the sieve.

    Step 4

    Add the simple syrup to the pitcher and stir well. If you opt to use the lime juice, add that after the simple syrup.

    Step 5

    Serve chilled or over ice. Yields 3 to 3-1/2 cups of juice, depending on the ripeness of your cantaloupe. Refrigerate any juice you're not going to drink immediately and consume within two days for optimum freshness.

  • Cheater's Alfajores

    Cheater's Alfajores Cheater's Alfajores

    Cheater's Alfajores

    Enjoy a cheater's version of alfajores, a traditional shortbread and dulce de leche sandwich cookie, with a fraction of the effort!
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    Serves

    1

    Ingredients

    • 1 box shortbread cookies, store-bought, as thin as possible
    • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, (sometimes called lechera)
    • coconut, finely shredded (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar, (optional, to sift over the cookies if you don't roll them in coconut)
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    Directions

    Step 1

    Remove the label from the can of sweetened condensed milk and discard. Place the can in the crock of the slow cooker and fill it with water until the can is completely submerged with water covering the top of the can. Set your slow cooker on high for 6 hours.

    Step 2

    At the end of 6 hours, turn the slow cooker off. If you're in a hurry, you can immediately remove the can from the crock using tongs and submerge it in a bowl of room temperature water. When the can is cool to the touch, you can open it with a can opener. Another way I like to do it when I have a little more time is to turn off the slow cooker and let the water come to room temperature before removing the lid and the can from the water.

    Step 3

    Once you open the can, you'll see that the silky sweetened condensed milk has turned into a beautiful brown dulce de leche. The consistency will be a little thicker, which makes it perfect for sandwiching with shortbread cookies because it won't be runny.

    Step 4

    Place a generous dollop of dulce de leche in the middle of one cookie and press another cookie on top. Make sure not to overfill them or the dulce de leche will ooze out the sides and make a mess. Ideally, the dulce de leche should just peek out. If you like, roll the edges of the cookie through finely shredded coconut which will stick to the dulce de leche.

    Step 5

    You can store any leftover dulce de leche in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. If you want to get creative, you can even package up the dulce de leche and give it away as a gift.

  • Fantastic Flan

    Fantastic Flan Fantastic Flan

    Fantastic Flan

    Want to make flan to impress your guests but think it's too hard? Think again! This easy and versatile recipe will please both the guests and the cook, with less mess.
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    Serves

    1

    Ingredients

    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 egg yolks, can reduce to one, depending on the consistency you want, more yolks means firmer flan
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk, 1 can
    • 12 ounces evaporated milk, 1 can
    • caramel sauce, store-bought, preferably cajeta
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    Directions

    Variable Ingredient

    You can either make plain flan by adding 1 cup of water, or a fruit-flavored flan by adding 1 cup of fruit nectar. You can also add in fresh fruit such as berries, if you prefer.

    Step 1

    Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Start by covering the bottom of your dish (or dishes) with a generous layer of caramel sauce. You don't want it to be more than about a quarter inch thick at the most, but don't make it too thin either, or your flan will not have any liquid or sauce when it comes out of the mold.

    Step 2

    Put all ingredients into your blender and mix well. Pour gently into the caramel-covered dish and leave about a half-inch at the top. Over-filling the dish can cause spillage in the oven so be careful to leave enough room.

    Step 3

    Place the glass dish inside of the baking pan and add water to the pan until the pan is about half-full. This will help the caramel at the bottom turn into a nice, drippy sauce and also prevents the flan from getting dried out or burned. Place the pan inside the pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top of the flan turns golden brown and you can insert a knife or toothpick without any liquid coming out.

    Step 4

    Remove from the oven and the water bath and set on a towel on the counter to cool. When it's at almost room temperature, loosen the sides with a rubber spatula or a knife and invert the flan over a serving plate. If I'm not serving it right away, I like to refrigerate the flan for an hour or two to chill it before eating. You can always wait to remove it from the mold until you're ready to actually serve it, if you prefer. Refrigerate any leftovers.

    Note

    You can also use a convection oven such as Kenmore's Elite Infrared Convection Toaster Oven to bake the flan. The only change to make in the method for baking is to use a smaller baking pan for the water bath that will fit in the convection oven, and use smaller glass dishes for each flan. This will decrease the amount of cooking time needed by a bit, so just watch them to see when the top starts to turn golden and have your toothpicks ready.

  • Mango Paletas

    Mango Paletas Mango Paletas

    Mango Paletas

    Use your blender for an easy, sweet Mexican treat to keep cool this summer: paletas!
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    Serves

    6

    Ingredients

    • 4 manila mangoes
    • 4 limes, juiced
    • 4 teaspoons chile powder, or more, according to taste
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar cane, preferably not processed white sugar
    • 2 limes, zest
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    Directions

    Step 1

    In a sauce pan, bring the water, sugar and lime zest to a boil and then reduce heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse the flavor of the lime zest and then remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

    Step 2

    While it's cooling, peel the mangoes and remove all the flesh from the pit. You can see in the video that I removed every last bit. The pit lies in the center of the mango and you'll know you're getting close to it when you hear a noise while cutting through the flesh. When you get close to the pit, you can just scrape it in a downward motion away from you to get the last bits off.

    Step 3

    Put the mango flesh (which should be about 2.5 cups) into the blender with the lime juice, sugar syrup and chile powder.

    Step 4

    Run on low or pulse on low for 10-15 seconds so that you get a puree that still has some small mango chunks in it.

    Step 5

    Pour evenly into your favorite popsicle molds, making sure not to fill them all the way to the top; the popsicles will expand a little when they freeze, so you'll want to leave a bit of room so they don't spill over the top. Place them on an even surface in the freezer for at least 12 hours (more if you use bigger molds).

    Step 6

    Once they're frozen through, run the bottom of the mold under a gentle stream of warm water just enough to loosen them from the mold to pull out easily.

  • Mexican Hot Chocolate

    Mexican Hot Chocolate Mexican Hot Chocolate

    Mexican Hot Chocolate

    This rich, savory drink provides an instant warmup on cold days.
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    Serves

    8

    Ingredients

    • 8 cups milk
    • 3 disks of Mexican chocolate
    • 3 ounces Scharffen Berger dark chocolate
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
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    Directions

    Step 1

    Chop the chocolates coarsely. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and bean to the milk. Warm the milk, chopped chocolate, vanilla bean seeds and pod in a pot over medium heat. While warming, constantly whisk the milk. Do not let it boil over. Keep whisking until the chocolate is melted and the mixture begins to produce steam. Remove vanilla bean pod and serve in mugs.

    Step 2

    Garnish with chocolate and cinnamon.

  • Mexican Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

    Mexican Chocolate Chipotle Cookies Mexican Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

    Mexican Chocolate Chipotle Cookies

    We've captured the unique spicy sweetness of Mexican hot chocolate in convenient cookie form! Give a batch as a gift, if you can resist eating them all yourself.
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    Prep Time

    20 minutes

    Cook Time

    15 minutes

    Serves

    24

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper, ground (can substitute one-eighth teaspoon cayenne or smoked paprika)
    • 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar, granulated
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 2/3 cup sugar crystals, (or granulated sugar)
    • parchment paper
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    Directions

    Step 1

    Preheat oven to 325°F.

    Step 2

    Cut out parchment to exactly fit the baking sheet.

    Step 3

    In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, black pepper and chipotle pepper.

    Step 4

    Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated (don't over-mix).

    Step 5

    Shape the dough into a 12-inch log and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Put dough in freezer for 10 minutes to firm the dough. Put sugar crystals in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Roll the dough log in the sugar, pressing sugar into the dough to coat the log evenly.

    Step 6

    Cut the log into half-inch slices and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets until cookies are no longer soft to the touch, about 10 minutes. Let them rest on the baking sheet for about 1 minute to firm them, then transfer to a rack with a metal spatula.

    Step 7

    Cool completely, and serve cookies on a platter.

    For Kids

    Eliminate the chipotle and black pepper.

    Give as Gift

    Put the finished and cooled cookies into Chinese takeout box with colorful tissue.