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Mexico has a vibrant candy culture with many unique and popular sweets. Some of the most well-known Mexican candies include traditional items like cajeta, alegrías, obleas, and palanquetas. More modern candies like Pulparindo, Duvalín, and Lucas Muecas are also beloved in Mexico. Factors like history, culture, and local ingredients have all contributed to Mexico’s distinct candy offerings.
What Influences Mexican Candy?
There are a few key factors that have shaped the evolution of Mexican candy:
Ingredients like corn, chile peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and dulce de leche are integral parts of Mexican cuisine and sweets. For example, traditional candy palanquetas is made from pumpkin seed paste called pepitas. The prevalence of these ingredients in Mexican cooking translated over to confections as well.
The Spanish introduced new ingredients, techniques, and equipment for candy making during their colonization of Mexico. Items like almonds, sugarcane, and caramelized sweets became more common. The Spanish also brought molinillos – wooden chocolate whisks for frothing chocolate drinks.
Day of the Dead
Candy plays an important role in the annual Day of the Dead festival. Small, decorated sugar skulls and coffins called alfeñiques are made to celebrate deceased loved ones. Other candies like pulparindos are also associated with the holiday.
Family Candy Making
Candy making is a treasured family activity in Mexico. Mothers and grandmothers often pass down prized recipes and techniques. Candies are made for holidays, birthdays, weddings, and other special events.
Famous Mexican Candies
Here are some of the most iconic and beloved candies in Mexico:
Cajeta is essentially Mexico’s version of dulce de leche – a caramel-like sauce or spread made by slowly cooking sweetened condensed milk. It’s used as a topping on cakes, ice cream, fruits, pastries – you name it. Popular brands like Coronado and Celaya are bottled and exported worldwide.
These fudge-like milk candies have an iconic oblong, “ham” shape. Traditional versions are simply made from milk, sugar, and vanilla. You’ll find jamoncillos sold by street vendors, in markets, and specialty shops in Mexico. They have a light, milky taste similar to English toffee or dulce de leche.
Mazapanes are nut brittles or clusters made from peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. They are often molded into round disks or seasonal shapes. At Christmas, mazapanes shaped like stars, trees and nativity figurines are very popular. These nutty candies are also coated in chocolate or powdered sugar.
Alegrias means “happiness” in Spanish, and these colorful, fruit-flavored candies live up to their cheerful name. They are chewy, rectangular sweets made from apricot, pineapple, coconut, peanuts, prune, tamarind, or chili flavors encased in a brittle shell. Alegrias are a classic Mexican cinema snack.
Palanquetas are a fudgy Mexican candy made from pumpkin seed butter. The earthy, nutty, green-colored paste called pepita is combined with sugar and condensed milk then molded into bars. Palanquetas have a crumbly yet creamy consistency similar to peanut butter fudge.
These thin, round wafers made of cornstarch and wheat flour originate from religious communion hosts. Obleas are now sandwiched with cajeta, coconut, chocolate, caramel or sweetened condensed milk. Obleas carts are found all over Mexico, selling the candies topped with edible paper called oblea.
This iconic candy has been made by the Duvalin company since the 1950s. Duvalins contain two types of gelatin and marshmallow encased in chocolate. Most Duvalins contain a creamy vanilla side paired with strawberry, coconut, or lemon gel. They are wrapped in colorful foil packaging.
Pulparindo is a popular tamarind candy introduced in the 1960s. It features a mix of tamarind pulp, chile powder, and salt covered in a thick layer of red-hued sugar. The sweet, tangy, and spicy candy has a cult following in Mexico and Latin America. Pulparindo is also a Day of the Dead favorite.
|Cajeta||Caramelized sweetened condensed milk||Thick, sticky caramel sauce|
|Jamoncillo||Milk, sugar, vanilla||Fudgy, creamy, brittle|
|Mazapanes||Peanuts, almonds, seeds||Crunchy nut brittle|
Pedro Infante and Lucas Muecas
In 1954, Mexican film star Pedro Infante launched the Lucas Muecas candy company. Their famous products include:
– Tutsi Pop – chewy tamarind lollipops
– Pulguitas – miniature sticky, sour tamarind candies
– Tortilitas – traditional amaranth and molasses sweets
– Lucas Muecas – the signature gelatin gummy candies in fun shapes
Lucas Muecas are vegan and come in popular flavors like tamarind, guava, mango, and lime. The brand remains iconic in Mexico today.
Chocolate is integral to Mexican candy and desserts. Unique varieties and preparations include:
Abuelita is one of the most recognized Mexican chocolate brands. Their tablets are made from cinnamon, vanilla and rice alongside cacao. The chocolate is melted into hot milk or water for a comforting drink.
Chocolate Con Leche
This style of chocolate is made with extra milk powder for enhanced creaminess. Popular brands like Carlos V and Del Río use quality cacao from Chiapas and Oaxaca.
Chocolate Para Mesas
Chocolate para mesas refers to chocolate made specifically for baking/cooking. It contains more cacao butter for better performance in recipes. These chocolate discs melt smoothly without separating.
Chocolate Con Nata
Chocolate con nata features fresh cream as an ingredient. The cream lends a signature smooth, velvety texture and flavor. Con nata style chocolate is used for candies, cakes, frostings, fillings and more.
These chocolate bars are studded with local ingredients like pecans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and crystallized nibs. The added nuts and seeds provide crunch and texture.
|Abuelita||Tablets flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and rice|
|Con Leche||Made with extra milk powder|
|Para Mesas||High cacao butter content for baking|
|Con Nata||Contains fresh cream|
Modern vs. Traditional Sweets
Mexico produces both vintage, old-fashioned candies as well as newer, mass-produced confections. Some key differences between old and new include:
Traditional candies rely on simple, natural ingredients like milk, sugar, nuts and seeds, spices, and fruit. Modern candies use more artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and chemicals.
Old fashioned candies are handmade in small batches. Modern commercial production involves automation, machines, and assembly lines.
Vintage Mexican candies had basic paper or foil packaging. Today’s candies have colorful plastic wrappers and cartoon branding targeting kids.
Small batch candies from family shops are only found regionally. Mass market candies are designed for distribution and export internationally.
Major candy brands can reduce costs with artificial ingredients and mass production. Traditional candies made from quality ingredients have a higher price point.
|Traditional Candies||Modern Candies|
|Simple, natural ingredients||More artificial colors and preservatives|
|Handmade in small batches||Mass produced by machines|
|Basic paper or foil wrapping||Colorful plastic packaging|
Regional Candy Specialties
Mexico’s diverse regions each contribute unique candies:
– Uruapan – cajeta, obleas, jamoncillo
– Pátzcuaro – pumpkin seed candy
– Erongaricuaro – crystallized fruit
– Guadalajara – alegrías
– Sayula – sticky pineapple and chili candies
– Oaxaca City – chocolate, chapulines candy
– Santa Maria Camotlán – camotines mazapán
– Tuxtla Gutiérrez – marzipan from almonds
– Comitán – crystallized figs and fruits
– Culiacán – coconut candies, mazapán
– Choix – peanut brittle
– Puebla City – painted sugar skulls
– Amozoc – alegrías
– Mérida – sabrosura recarga gummies
– Valladolid – distinct honey candies
– Xalapa – coffee candy
– Coatepec – ganache and truffles
Buying Mexican Candy
Mexican candy can be found around the world in several places:
Mexican markets, international grocery stores, and candy shops carry imported candies. Major cities with Hispanic communities normally have dedicated Mexican stores.
Various retailers sell Mexican candy online for home delivery. Cajeta, mazapán, palanquetas and more can be ordered from e-commerce sites.
Mexican bakeries often stock classic candies to eat there or take home. Sweet shops advertise specialty candies like obleas con cajeta.
In Mexico, you’ll find candy carts in markets and on street corners. Vendors sell an assortment of candies by weight and type. You can mix-and-match selections.
Import Food Aisles
Major grocery store chains have started dedicating shelf space to Mexican pantry essentials. Look here for major candy brands like Pulparindo and Pelón Pelo Rico.
Some health food stores and co-ops sell Mexican candy in bulk bins. You can find jamoncillo, mazapanes, or ganache pieces sold individually by weight.
|Where to Buy||What You’ll Find|
|Mexican Markets||Obscure regional candies|
|Online Shops||Candy shipped to your door|
|Bakeries||Obleas, cajeta, jamoncillo|
|Street Vendors||Mix-and-match selection|
Mexico’s long candy tradition stems from history, culture, and local ingredients. Famous candies like cajeta, mazapán, palanquetas and more reflect regional specialties. While traditional candies are still prized, mass-produced sweets cater to modern tastes. Finding authentic Mexican confections takes a little effort but offers a sweet taste of the culture.