A Taste of Knowledge – Traditional Desserts in Argentina, Translated & Explained

If you love sweets and are also intrigued by local food knowledge, Glutton Guide Buenos Aires has a treat for you! This list of delicious terms is every bit as sugary as it looks, and you’ll want to add everything to your culinary itinerary.

Diabetics beware: porteños have quite the sweet tooth and are unabashedly gluttonous when it comes to desserts. Classic Argentine cakes and pies are often local twists on European classics (usually gooier, sweeter and likely smothered in dulce de leche, or DDL). Expect to find DDL in places you never thought possible, as well as iterations of chocolate, meringue and fruits. And then there’s the helado (ice cream), which rounds out the Argentine holy trinity, right up there with Messi and the Pope.

Sweets Dictionary

Alfajores: two round cookies with DDL in between, either made with flour (harina) and covered in chocolate or powdered sugar, or with cornstarch (maicena) and rolled in toasted coconut

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Budín de pan: bread pudding

Chocotorta: a no-bake favorite at friendly gatherings made of Chocolinas cookies dunked in milk/coffee, with layers of DDL + cream cheese

Flan mixto: a typical flan or crème caramel with helpings of whipped cream and DDL

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Lemon pie: tart lemon pie with a generous portion of meringue on top

Membrillo: quince paste

Panqueques: a thin crepe filled with DDL or marmalade

Pasta frola: a pie with a lattice crust made with quince paste, sweet potato paste or guava jelly

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Postre vigilante or queso y dulce: thick slice of cheese accompanied with quince paste or sweet potato paste


Rogel: thin layers of puff pastry alternating with layers of DDL and topped with meringue


Is your mouth watering yet? You can find out the best places in Buenos Aires to eat every single one of these decadent desserts : just take a look at Glutton Guide Buenos Aires! You’ll be the life of the party! And your friends and family will be eternally indebted to you for introducing them to such heavenly, sugary goodness.

The Facts about Facturas – Buenos Aires Desserts’ Double Meanings

The only thing that comes close to being as satisfying as desserts are facts about desserts! Want to know why Buenos Aire’s facturas have evocative names like nun’s sigh or friar’s balls? If you’re keen to hear about the cultural context of Argentinian desserts, this informative post by Glutton Guide Buenos Aires will satisfy your cravings.

Ever thought of eating a friar’s balls (bolas del fraile) for breakfast? In typical lunfardo fashion, words have an often-ironic double meaning. In the late 19th century, Italian anarchists (some of whom also happened to be bakers) hiding out in Argentina started organizing anarchist resistance groups and published the newsletter El Obrero Panadero (The Bakery Worker). As a form of resistance against the government, police and Catholic Church, they started giving sarcastic names to their baked goods to taunt the powers they protested. Which is why no porteño will think twice about asking the baker for a nun’s sigh (suspiro de monja) to accompany his café. Facturas tend to be quite heavy and sweet – many are sugar glazed and/or filled with pastry cream, dulce de leche or membrillo (quince paste). The rebellious bakers have long since gone but the names have stayed.

Some of the most common factura names include:

Bolas del fraile (friar’s balls): pastry balls filled with dulce de leche or pastry cream

Cañoncitos (little cannons): puff pastry tubes filled with dulce de leche

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Medialunas (half moons): small, dense croissants (but don’t call them that!) that come in two varieties (medialunas de manteca, a flakier version made with lard, and medialunas de grasa, made with butter and topped with a sweet glaze), which are sold plain, made into sandwiches or stuffed with dulce de leche or pastry cream

Moño con membrillo y crema pastelera: “bow ties” with quince paste and pastry cream

Pañuelitos de grasa (fat wipes): layers of puff pastry

Suspiro de monja (nun’s sigh): pastry balls filled with pastry cream and covered with sugar

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Tortita negra (small black pastry): small round pastry covered with dark brown sugar vigilantes: long, thin puff pastry with a sweet glaze


The thought of anarchist bakers is simply intriguing (as are the pastries themselves.) If you want to find out for yourself what they taste like, or if you want something savory beforehand, check out Glutton Guide Buenos Aires! It will steer you in the right direct and ensure that you’re having only the best friar’s balls. 

Best Dulce De Leche Desserts in Buenos Aires

Though it is definitely socially acceptable to eat spoonfuls of dulce de leche straight from the jar in Buenos Aires, it’s more of an ingredient than a standalone dessert and can be enjoyed at any meal of the day on toast, bread pudding, chocolates, crepes, pastries, cakes, ice cream or even in coffee. Popular all over Latin America, it’s also known as manjar, arequipe or cajeta, and is a spreadable confection made from slowly heating sweetened milk until the water evaporates, leaving the sticky “sweet of milk”. Try making it at home, but be prepared for hours of stirring over the stove. Different countries lay claim to inventing dulce de leche, but in Buenos Aires it is best to agree on the Argentine origins story unless you want to start a continental conflict.

Here’s the best places to find dulce de leche in Buenos Aires favorite places to pick up a DDL dessert:

Bar du Marché

On one of Palermo’s prettiest tree-lined blocks is this cozy café/wine bar whose mirrored walls, wicker chairs and wine list feel decidedly more parisien than porteño. With over 50 wines available by the glass, some of them imported, this is a great spot for a leisurely lunch, afternoon aperitif or wine and cheese flight paired by the sommelier. Do not miss their mousse de dulce de leche, an extra creamy DDL mousse that is to die for.

Nicaragua 5946. Subte: Line D – Ministro Carranza. Tel: +54 11 4778 1050. Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-12am. Web: www.bardumarchepalermo.com

Don Julio

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Dulce de leche at a parrilla? Dulce de leche-stuffed crepes are actually the best way to end a night of feasting on meats from an open grill, and no one does panqueques de dulce de leche better than Don Julio. In 2015, Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants recognized their outstanding meat and dessert game, naming them the 45th best restaurant in the region. Expect long waits (eased with complimentary bubbles), but it’s totally worth it.

Guatemala 4691. Subte: Line D – Scalabrini Ortiz. Tel: +54 11 4831 9564 / 4832 6058. Hours: 12-4 pm, 7pm-close. Menu: Spanish & English. Web: www.parrilladonjulio.com.ar.

Freddo

Freddo’s black, white and blue logo is part of the porteño landscape, with over 150 locales in BA and beyond. Opened in 1969, they are the largest chain of heladería in Buenos Aires and their name is practically synonymous with ice cream. They have a huge offering of flavors as well as sundaes, smoothies, blended drinks and more. Try classics like dulce de leche helado (ice cream) to see what all the fuss is about.

See website for locations all around town. Tel: +54 0810 3337 3336. Web: www.freddo.com.ar

Maru Botana

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Celebrity chef and TV personality Maru Botana has been busy, growing her gastronomic empire to include successful TV shows, cookbooks, a catering business and eponymous brick & mortar locales, while also raising seven children. Her outposts offer savory items like quiches, salads and sandwiches, but they’re only a precursor to the main course: dessert. A glance at the DDL-loaded pastry case alone may send you into hyperglycemic shock. You can’t miss Rogel, Marquise de chocolate con dulce de leche, crema y frutos rojos (chocolate marquise with DDL, whipped cream and berries) or the dulce de leche cheesecake.

BEL Location: 11 de Septiembre 982. Line D – Juramento. Tel: +54 9 11 4772 2478.

Second BEL Location: Echeverría 3240. Subte: Line D – Juramento. Tel: +54 9 11 4551 8887.

R+R Location: Suipacha 1371. Subte: Line C – San Martín. Tel: +54 9 11 4326 7134.

Hours: Mon-Sat: 8am-8:30pm, Sun 9am-8pm. Web: www.marubotana.com

Un’Altra Volta

Commonly just known as Volta, this local artisanal helado (ice cream) chain has a modern, sleek aesthetic. Try a combo of any of the classics, but don’t miss the DDL.

Libertador 3060. Subte: Line D – Plaza Italia. Tel: +54 11 1088 8622. Hours: Sun-Thu 8am-2am, Fri 8am-3am, Sat 8am-4am. Web: www.unaltravolta.com.ar/english

For more info on the best dulce de leche in Buenos Aires and other sweet spots, download your copy of Glutton Guide Buenos Aires: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook and start eating like a local!