I have a confession to make: I undoubtedly, hands downs, no joke, love sweets. That is why I absolutely love Peru’s selection of desserts. From the manjar blanco to the exotic jungle fruit medleys, I love it all. Peruvians take so much pride in their cuisine and love to put their own special spin on old favorites. If you are anything like me (and always get the dessert first at the buffet) or maybe you want to take the county fair pie auction to a whole new level, here are 6 Peruvian desserts that will definitely leave a lasting impression on your taste testers and your taste buds.
This sweet delight is a popular street vendor treat in Peru. It kind of resembles a sweet, sticky, dripping doughnut. The dough is prepared from sweet potato flour and tossed into a fryer for about 2 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Then they are topped with honey mixed with cinnamon, essence of orange, and other spices.
Picarones make for the perfect indulgence while exploring Lima or Cusco on a cool evening, but they also are delicious after a big hearty Peruvian dinner. I particularly enjoy them after a huge plate of Lomo Saltado (tender cuts of beef in stir fried vegetables served over rice and fried potato wedges). Yum!
Alfajores Made with Manjar Blanco
This is probably the most popular Latin American cookie, made differently in various parts of the continent. Peruvians love their alfajores, and they are sold in markets, grocery stores, bakeries, and even street carts. They are made by sticking two soft cookie rounds together with manjar blanco (a sweet caramel cream) and sprinkling powdered sugar on top. The cookie rounds are made from corn flour, making them very delicate and crumbly that is similar to the consistency of buttermilk cookies. Alfajores are dry, yet sweet, and go great with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Turrón de Doña Pepa
This is a dessert that is most popularly prepared during the month of October for celebrations of the Lord of Miracles (el Señor de Milagros), but in reality you can buy it all year round in the grocery stores. It is made by layering cookies made from anise and sticking them together with chancaca, a very thick and sweet syrup made from cane sugar. Then the sticky cookie delight is topped with candies that resemble sprinkles.
Okay, so crema volteada is not 100% authentic Peruvian, but it is one of the most popular desserts in the country. Really, it is the Peruvian version of caramel custard. It is light and sweet, kind of like a cross between a gelatin and a cheesecake, and it is surprisingly simple to make. All you need is a little whole milk, some eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
The Peruvian pionono is another manjar blanco decadent dessert, which is also called a jelly roll in other parts of the world. This treat is not native to Peru (lots of countries have their own version), but the fact that it is filled with manjar blanco is what gives it the Peruvian spunk. Have a slice for a sweet snack with coffee or serve it as a cake dessert for the whole party.
This Peruvian favorite is very simple to make. First you bake the outer sponge cake on a baking sheet, and then roll it up with the manjar blanco inside. Using a 13” by 10” baking sheet, you can make enough Pionono to serve 10 people!
Lucuma Ice Cream
Lucuma is an exotic fruit grown in the highland jungle in Peru, and it is the perfect flavor for ice cream, cakes, candies, and it goes great with chocolate and caramel flavors. Lucuma ice cream is a favorite among Peruvian desserts for its oddly sweet aroma and kind of cinnamon spicy flavor.
Honestly the flavor is somewhat difficult to describe. My best attempt would be to say that it taste like a mix between a snickerdoodle cookie and a pumpkin spice latte, but the texture is completely different, like starchy, yet creamy. Weird, I know, but it is absolutely delicious. Trust me.
For advice on where to dine out and order dessert in Lima, check out this edition of Sense Peru and download a free Lima Restaurant Guide.
Here’s a sneak peak of some of our favorite spots in Lima to grab a sweet treat:
- Ana Avellana Pasterleria – cakes, pies, cookies, and more
- Blu – ice cream shop in Lima’s Barranco district
- Manolo – churros filled with manjar blanco or chocolate
- La Fiorentina Gelateria – old school ice cream shop
Are you gearing up for a food-filled vacation to Peru? Let our team of travel experts help you out! Peru for Less helps travelers like you plan customized trips throughout Argentina, Peru, Chile, Brazil, and beyond. Contact us today.
Katy is no stranger to the life of an international traveler. After graduate school, Kathleen worked in California in the legal field, but later realized that life was calling her in a different direction. After a short time in Peru, she fell in love with the culture, the people, the food, and the way of life. Now Kathleen calls Lima her “home away from home,” although she frequently visits the warm, sunny northern Peru to see friends and surf.