Thursday, April 15, 2021

The ten best Canarian desserts

Just some of these Canarian desserts

It has been said that there is a lack of choice of Canarian desserts and I will agree that in most restaurants there is often little on offer. There will be flan and then the choices are mostly international and often just ice cream. At the occasional out-of-the-way and more traditional establishment, you may find bienmesabe and, even less often, frangollo. Also some of the things that we would consider a cake for afternoon tea, or just a sweet to be eaten as a snack, are served as a desert at home in the Canaries. Anyway, here is a list of those considered the ten best Canarian desserts ... and not a flan amongst them! 

1. Bienmesabe is a dessert as calorific as it is sweet. Almonds, egg, sugar and lemon are its fundamental ingredients. The origin of bienmesabe, which today can be enjoyed throughout the archipelago, is probably Arab, but it has been made popular through the work of chef Matilde Arroyo, Gold Medal of the Canary Islands in 2009 on the island of La Palma and, specifically, for her pioneering nature in the dissemination of the rich culinary tradition of the «Isla Bonita». Tejeda, in Gran Canaria, is also famous for its bienmesabe.

2. Frangollo is one of the quintessential Canarian desserts, even more so on the island of Tenerife. Milk, corn flour, lemon, eggs, sugar, butter, raisins, almonds and cinnamon are fundamental ingredients, although there are areas where it is made with water instead of milk and others where they add ingredients like matalaúva (anise), for example.

3. Príncipe Alberto Another of the region's dessert wonders is Prince Albert, whose origin is also on the island of La Palma (it must be emphasized: a paradise for those with a sweet tooth). The main ingredient is chocolate, which together with biscuits dipped in coffee and crushed almonds and hazelnuts gives a dessert that is creamy and intense in equal parts.

4. Rapaduras de La Palma Its conical shape is characteristic of this traditional sweet from the island of La Palma, now spread to other parts of the Canary Islands and whose main ingredient is cane sugar. Gofio, of course sugar, almonds, cinnamon and lemon are its other elements. The basic recipe has given rise, also influenced by its industrialization, to varieties such as milk, chocolate (children love this), coconut or egg.

5. Mousse de gofio (Gofio mousseGofio is the quintessential product of the culinary tradition of the Islands, a product that was the basis of the diet of generations of islanders in ancient times. Today, gofio is still appreciated for its important nutritional value and for its potential in many recipes, including gofio mousse, which also includes eggs, condensed milk and whipping cream. Smooth and delicious. If you are in the Canary Islands, forget about the classic chocolate mousse for a few days.

6. Huevos mole are one of the legacies that Portuguese traditions left in the Canary Islands. In fact, in Portugal, as well as in the Islands, desserts made with eggs are very common, including ovo moles. Egg yolks, sugar and water, and skill, of course, is all that is needed to make this dessert. It is usually served  cold and in glasses.

7. Truchas (Turnovers) are a sweet in the shape of a classic pasty that is usually eaten at Christmas, and that is why, for many islanders, they evoke the warmth of the family, the warmth of home. They are made with flour, sweet potato (there is a more industrial variant with Cabello de ángel (angel hair), a transparent threaded jam made from Siam pumpkin pulp and white sugar), sugar, almonds and lemon as fundamental ingredients. 

8. Polvito uruguayo became popular in the archipelago thanks to the proliferation of Uruguayan restaurants (since it derives from the «chajá» dessert, from the South American country) in various parts of the region, especially in Gran Canaria, to the point that it has been adapted to the ingredients of the islands. Its name comes from the fact that the main ingredients (biscuits and meringues) are made into powders, for its preparation. 

9. Suspiros ("Sighs", a.k.a. Meringue Kisses) are a traditional meringue from various parts of the geography of Gran Canaria. Due to their history in the municipality, they are generically known as Suspiros de Moya, a municipality in which their preparation has made them into a classic of the island's confectionery and, by extension, of the archipelago. Egg, sugar and lemon make up a sweet treat like few others. They can be purchased in many bakeries. 

10. Quesadilla herreña is the traditional cake from the small island of El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canary Islands. Like Moya's sighs, its popularity is such that it can be purchased prepared in many shops in what is also known as “Isla del Meridiano” (The Meridian Island). It is made with cheese, salt, sugar, flour, eggs, lemon, cinnamon and anise, but without the traditional wood oven these ingredients would not give the particular flavour of this sweet. Fluffy: biting into a cloud would be similar. 

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