Dessert Recipes For The Holidays: 5 Latin Sweet Treats For Christmas And New Year

dessert recipes
Dessert Recipes For Your Holidays. Pressmaster/Shutterstock.

It's Christmas and New Year's time again and since it seems like everyone is in good spirits around the holidays to celebrate, we are giving you different options to indulge on your favorite Latin sweet treats. Food is almost always part of any Hispanic holiday celebration that's why our fabulously festive dessert selection includes traditional Natilla Colombiana, Dominican brown sugar cake, sweet tamales and more that you can pair up with delicious eggnog or coquito. Check out our top 5 Latin sweet treats for the festivities.

Colombian Christmas custard or Natilla Colombiana

Christmas in Colombia is not complete without a piece of rich and delicious homemade custard, known as natilla. This traditional Colombian Christmas pudding is sweetened with GOYA® Brown Sugar Cane (Panela), topped with shredded coconut, and then chilled until firm. Serve  natilla this Christmas, and experience the sweetness of Colombia – in your own kitchen.

Ingredients

Serves 12

  • 1 pkg. (1 lb.) GOYA® Panela (Brown Sugar Cane), coarsely chopped, or 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 2 GOYA® Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 5 cups milk, divided
  • 1¼ cups cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (optional)
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

1. Add 1 cup water, panela pieces, cinnamon sticks and cloves to small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together 1 cup milk and cornstarch, stirring until smooth; set aside.

3. Add remaining 4 cups milk and salt to medium saucepot over medium heat. Heat milk until warm (but not boiling). Pour panela mixture into milk, stirring to combine. Increase heat to medium-high. Using whisk, immediately whisk cornstarch mixture into panelamixture. Cook, whisking constantly and scraping bottoms and sides of pan with whisk, until mixture comes to a boil and is smooth and thick. 

4. Pour natilla into 8” glass baking dish sprinkled with grated coconut, if desired; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 4 hours, or up to 48 hours. 

5. To serve, run thin knife around edges of dish. Invert natilla onto serving plate. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired. Cut into 12 pieces.

Dominican Brown Sugar Cake with Carnation Frosting

Covered with creamy Carnation Frosting and decorated with red guava shells, this festive Christmas cake is ideal for any holiday gathering. Canned guava shells may vary in color, so don’t be concerned if some are less brightly colored. For a simple—but still delicious—presentation, omit the frosting and guava shells and dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar just before serving.

Ingredients 

For Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)

Carnation Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Garnish suggestion: canned guava shells in syrup, drained (optional)

Instructions: 

For cake:

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 9-inch (10-cup) tube pan and flour with 3 tablespoons flour.

SIFT remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add brown sugar gradually and continue beating until light and loose, about 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with 1 cup evaporated milk. Stir in rum until just mixed. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Invert onto plate. Spread Carnation Frosting on top and side of cooled cake. Garnish, if desired, with guava shells. Store in refrigerator.

For frosting:
BEAT butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add 1/4 cup evaporated milk and vanilla extract; mix until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

NOTE: A 10-cup Bundt pan can also be used. Follow recipe above and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

Milk Caramel Rice Pudding  or Arroz con Leche

In Latin America, dulce de leche goes by many different names: Manjar Blanco in Peru, Arequipe in Colombia, Cajeta in Mexico – but no matter what you call it, this silky milk caramel makes dessert even more delicious. Here, we follow the lead of Mexican cooks who swirl it into rice pudding. The results: a luscious treat that makes special occasional even sweeter.

Ingredients

Serves 8

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup canilla Extra-Long Grain Rice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup GOYA® Sweetened and Condensed Milk
  • ½ cup GOYA® Milk Caramel (Dulce de Leche, Cajeta) 
  • 2 GOYA® Cinnamon Sticks
  • Toasted chopped pecans (optional)
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Instructions:

1.Bring water to boil in medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and salt. Return water to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium pot over medium-high heat bring milk, sweetened and condensed milk, dulce de leche and cinnamon sticks to boil; cover and set aside.

2.Stir warm milk mixture into pot with cooked rice. Increase heat to medium-high; bring milk to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon and scraping bottom of pot to prevent sticking and scorching, until rice mixture is creamy and thickened, 8-10 minutes. (Note that pudding will continue to thicken once cooled).

3.Pour rice pudding into serving bowl; serve warm or chilled. Garnish with pecans, pomegranate seeds or mint, if desired.

Sweet Tamales

Making tamales takes time, but your family will appreciate your effort. The combination of cinnamon, raisins, vanilla and condensed milk create a wonderful variation of this traditional dish.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) dried corn husks
  • 1 cup lard or shortening, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups masa harina flour (Mexican corn masa mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (14 oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

SORT corn husks, setting aside any torn ones. Soak intact husks in warm water for at least 1 hour or until softened and easy to fold.

BEAT 2/3 cup lard in large bowl until creamy. Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Alternately add flour mixture, water and sweetened condensed milk to lard, mixing well after each addition. Melt remaining 1/3 cup lard; gradually stir into masa mixture, mixing until consistency of thick cake batter (masa). Stir in vanilla, raisins and nuts.

SPREAD 1/4 cup masa, using back of a spoon, to form a square in the center of one husk. Fold right then left edge of husk over masa. Fold up bottom edge. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

PLACE vegetable steamer in pot with lid; add water to just below steamer. Arrange tamales upright in steamer rack. Cover top of tamales with reserved dry husks and a damp towel; cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Steam, adding water as needed, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until masa pulls away from husks.

Festive Yule Log

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 container (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread
  • 2 oz. BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. MAXWELL HOUSE Instant Coffee
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed 

Heat oven to 350°F.

Line greased 15x10x1-inch pan with parchment or waxed paper. Grease and flour paper; set aside. Beat first 4 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Spread 3 cups batter into pan; tap pan gently on counter to remove any air bubbles. Pour remaining batter into 4 to 6 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake cake and cupcakes 15 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 

Meanwhile, place large sheet of parchment paper on top of clean kitchen towel; sprinkle evenly with 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar. Invert cake onto towel; remove pan and top sheet of parchment paper. Starting at 1 of the short ends, roll up cake with parchment paper and towel. Cool on wire rack 30 min. Remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack; cool completely. Set cupcakes aside for another use.

Grate enough chocolate to measure 1 Tbsp. grated chocolate; set aside. Microwave remaining chocolate in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until partially melted. Stir until completely melted. Beat 1/2 cup powdered sugar and cream cheese spread in small bowl with mixer until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate. 

Unroll cake; remove paper and towel. Spread cake with cream cheese mixture; roll up. Refrigerate 30 min.; place on serving plate. Stir instant coffee granules into COOL WHIP; spread over log. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cut into 20 (1/2-inch-thick) slices to serve. Sprinkle with reserved grated chocolate.

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Juliana Barrera

Juliana Barrera started her mass communications career in the entertainment business at Estefan Enterprises, where she successfully participated in a variety of projects related to production, marketing and public relations for the company. She worked for three years as a writer and editor at La Vox Media group, the platform for an independent voice for Hispanic America. Additionally, she completed an internship at VIACOM  engaging audiences through pro-social initiatives. 

Juliana is a graduate student from Florida International University, her major is mass communications  and she has a minor in psychology. Her work has been published by HuffPost LatinoVoices, Latin Times, VOXXI, politic 365, La Opinión and others.