3 Latin desserts better than plain doughnuts (RECIPES)

I like having dessert, sometimes even for breakfast. That's kind of what doughnuts feel like to me. They're small and sweet and remind me of some of my favorite Latin desserts, like the Cuban torrejas my aunt makes for Christmas morning breakfast.

When I saw a funny viral post by a 12-year-old who called plain doughnuts fake and exclaimed that "they shouldn't even be called a doughnut", I couldn't agree more. That's why I'm in love with these desserts-that-could-be-eaten-for-breakfast, like my favorite Cuban torrejas, Mexican churros and Peruvian picarones. Day or night, these are sinfully delicious.


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Cuban Torrejas (recipe courtesy of 3 Guys from Miami)

Ingredients (Syrup):
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 medium lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick

Directions (Syrup):
Start making the syrup first: Bring all syrup ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the syrup thickens. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Remove from heat and let cool.

Ingredients (Toast):
3 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
8 to 10 slices Cuban or French bread

Directions (Toast):
1. Whip the egg yolks until frothy. Add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat 3 whole eggs until frothy. Heat a large frying pan or griddle. Place a little oil in the pan—just enough to lightly cover the surface.

2. Dip the bread slices in the milk/egg mixture one by one until they get thoroughly soaked. Lift the pieces from the mixture and let the excess mixture drip off. Now take the wet bread slice and dip each side in the beaten egg.

3. Fry the coated bread slices in small batches until golden brown on each side. As you make more toast, add a little more oil to the pan to keep the toast from sticking. Place the fried bread slices in a single layer in a jelly roll or baking pan and pour the syrup over them slowly so that it gets a chance to soak in.

4. Place the baking pan in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour to chill. Dust the tops of the bread with a little cinnamon and serve cold. You may also serve these warm.

Mexican Churros (recipe courtesy of Daisy Martinez, Food Network)

1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 eggs
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. To make the Mexican crullers: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water, the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt over medium-high heat until the edges of the liquid start to bubble. Add the flour all at once and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until well mixed and no lumps of flour remain.

2. Remove from the heat. Add 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each. The dough should look soft and glossy and keep a "hook" shape when the spoon is pulled from the dough. If not, beat in the last egg.

3. Scrape the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pour enough canola oil into a deep heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) to fill 1-inch. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon gives off a slow steady stream of tiny bubbles. Carefully pipe the dough into the oil, forming 6-inch crullers. Pipe only as many crullers into the oil as fit comfortably. Overcrowding the pan will result in soggy crullers. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Put the sugar and the cinnamon in a paper bag. Crimp the top and shake well to mix. Drop a few crullers at a time into the bag and shake until coated. Best served as soon as possible.

Peruvian Picarones (recipe courtesy of Peru Food)

1/2 cup pumpkin cooked and strained
1/4 cup water in which the pumpkin was cooked
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
Frying Oil

1. In a beater mix the pumpkin puree gradually adding the milk. Then add the flour and cornstarch beating constantly. Add the yeast, which has previously been dissolved in the hot pumpkin water with the sugar.

2. Mix to a smooth paste and place in a bowl. Heat the oven to 300 F. and place the bowl inside the oven for a minute. Turn the oven off and leave the dough inside the oven for 45 minutes giving time to raise. In a large skillet or deep frying pan add plenty of oil to heat.

3. Dip your fingers into the mixture, grab some, and drop it into the hot oil trying to shape them as a doughnut. Fry until golden and well puffed up. Serve with a syrup made of sugar loaf, orange peels and cinnamon sticks.

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Which of these delicious Latin desserts will you be making tonight?

Images via 3 Guys from Miami, x_tine/flickr, Peru Food