Before coming to Peru, I didn’t know much about Cusco and Peru other than Machu Picchu and a few other famous tourist destinations such as Lima, Nazca, Cusco…But I definitely hadn’t heard of the booming Peruvian cuisine and of the incredible tasteful Peruvian desserts. To me, Peruvian kitchen was just rice, chicken and beans. Shame on me. Now, after a few weeks in Peru learning Spanish in Cusco and living with a host family, I know better. Peruvian cuisine is amazing and the country is full of great ‘postres’: Picarones, Mazamorra Morada with Arroz con Leche, and Champú de Guanabana, just to name a few.
My personal favorite (at the moment) are the picarones. This sweet ring-shaped dessert (kind of doughnut-like but crispy) is made of wheat flour mixed with squash and sweet potato. The dough is fried and sprinkled with a sweet syrup made of chancaca (a concentrate form of light molasses).
Another one of my favorite Peruvian desserts is Mazamorra Morrada with Arroz con Leche. These two are sold both separately and combined, but I think a mixture of both of them is more delicious. Mazamorra is a red, corn based, fruity porridge or pudding. It’s made from purple corn and fruit, thickened with potato flour and spice with cinnamon and/or cloves. Arroz con Leche is rice cooked in milk with sugar and – again – cinnamon. People in Peru love it and I noticed that in Cusco it is hard to get around this dessert. Many restaurants have the mazamorra morada on their menu’s and even more people are selling it in the streets. This dessert can be eaten cold or hot. I prefer the hot version. It is a nice way to warm up in the sometimes cold Cusco. If you want to prepare it at home, here is a good recipe of arroz con leche.