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Jun 13, 2010 07:42 PM

Gorgeous Guatemalan candy - Los dulces típicos

Guatemalan candy is usually very small, very sweet, very pretty and very colorful.

It is mostly made from milk, condensed milk, coconut, nuts, seeds, fruit … and sugar, sugar, sugar. I don’t think I’ve seen any chocolate candy. Ironically in this sugar-crazed country hot chocolate is served unsweetened

There are around 100 types of traditional Guatemalan candies, the most popular and most mentioned are the canillitas de leche This blog along with the comments must mention all the rest … and there are lots of recipes in the comments … in Spanish

Guatemala has the best candied fruit … especially the whole figs. Unlike most candied fruit, the Guatemalan version is not hard. The figs are plump, juicy and almost like fresh. The various candied squash and sweet potatoes are excellent.

The candied fruits are less sweet that the other candies. The least sweet are the candies made from seeds and sugar cane juice, pepitoria, pumpkin seed brittle being the most well-known. It is called a brittle, but the thick slabs reminded me more in texture of rice crispy treats.

This site writes “Although originally made solely within the thick walls of the convent, these secret recipes eventually found their way out of the nuns' hands into the populace of Antigua . Today, there are a variety of flavors, most of them made from locally cultivated fruits. These recipes have been passed down through families, their particular mix of flavors particular to each family.” The photos in the link are very good.

While it is a dessert rather than a candy, Flan Antigüeño sits on a base of candied figs, camote, and chilacayote. It is unlike any flan I’ve ever had, almost like cheesecake, and killer good.

I recently was at a Guatemalan candy store and was clueless about almost everything there. So I searched the web and came up with the list in this post so I am better informed next time. I hope anyone familiar with Guatemalan candy will comment on anything I missed or may be incorrect. List of candies is in the first reply.

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  1. Guatemalan candies

    Africanas – I could not find a photo, only frequent mentions (in Spanish). They seem to have egg yolks, sugar, flour, cinnamon and vanilla.

    Algodones - cotton candy (usually sold by street vendors)

    Arropía - taffy

    Bocadillos de coco quemado – According to my babblefish translation – toasted coconut sandwiches. The recipe has coconut, coconut water, sugar and milk

    Bolitas de cacahuate – peanut balls

    Bolitas de tamarindo – tamarind balls

    Camote - candied sweet potato

    Canillitas de leche – The most mentioned and popular candy, it is called milk legs or milk fingers. The second link states “milk legs, are among the favourites of the guatemalans and tourists, this candy was probably named after the guatemalans saw the white legs of the tourists jokes Luciano” It is simply made from milk and sugar


    Chilacayote - candied squash.The next link which has a recipe in the comment section, also says “Cucurbita ficifolia is an annual vine or trailing plant grown at high altitudes for its edible seeds, fruit, and greens. English names for the plant include chilacayote, chiverre, fig-leaved gourd, malabar gourd, Malabar squash, pie melon, or shark fin melon. In Spanish it is known as alcayota, cayote, cidra, chilacayote, chiverre, or sambo. It shows considerable biochemical difference from the other members of its genus, and does not hybridize readily with them”

    Chupetes (pacifiers) - triangle-shape hard candy (usually sold by street vendors in Antigua) Can mean any hard candy that is sucked, such as a lollipop

    Cocadas blancas y tostadas – These candies made from coconut, eggs and sugar may be white or toasted coconut.

    Colochos – Curls. I’m not certain, but it might be this candy, “Curls of Honey”(scroll down for photo) .The next link describes them perfectly as “Sweetened with honey and boiled to a taffy-like consistency, these honey curls are sticky and feel almost as if they are still melting while you eat them. This isn’t a particularly complex candy, but it still tastes quite good!”


    Colochos de guayaba - guava rolls or curls

    Coyoles en miel – no real tranlation for this tropical fruit (see second link)

    Dulces de ajonjolí - sesame candies (bottom left corner)

    Dulce de ayote – Candy made from black squash on the day of the dead (Nov 1st)

    Dulce de camote – Sweet potatoes

    Encanelados – a cinamon based sweet

    Espumillas – meringue. Very popular and sold in pretty colors.

    Frutas cristalizados – Candied fruit. Often it is whole figs or slices of orange. They are not hard like candied fruit in the US, but often soft and juicy

    higos cristalizados - Whole candied figs

    Huevo Chimbo - A rich dessert made with egg yolks. The blogger on the second link writes “briefly dip the egg strips into a hot spiced syrup to which you have added currants, prunes, and liquor, preferably good quality liquor. A few weeks ago in Guatemala I ate huevo chimbo that was firm, rich, moist, and unforgettably delicious.”

    Mazapanes – Marzipan

    Melcocha - sweets made with seeds, mainly squash, pumpkin and sesame, mixed with thicken sugarcane juice.

    Melcocha - marshmallow

    Nuégados - stacked and glazed donut holes

    Pepitoria – squash seed brittle. They are the brown, green, pink and yellow squares in the photo

    Quiebradientes (teeth breakers) - typical and traditional hard candy

    Rosario (rosary) - Brightly colored tusa (dried cornhusk) are wrapped around sugar balls to form a rosary-shaped necklace.

    tamarindos - made from tamarind

    Yemas de San Leandro – From the following link with photo: “a cinnamon and almond flavored paste, encasing a single roasted almond, all glazed in sugar. The paste was so rich it tasted like cookie dough, and the coating of sugar helped add a little delicious sweetness”

    4 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I should have waited one day to post, but I didn't know I was going to be at the Mercado Central today ... or even that they sold candy there.

      I had

      Canillitas de leche – Tbese really do deserve the acclaim. They have the taste of caramels without the stickiness that threatens teeth fillings. The texture is like a soft fudge, but not as solid. It is texture-wise (but not taste-wise) somewhere between canned frosting and fudge ... but again, the taste is of a really good caramel.

      Tamarindos - The photo of these red sugar balls was so pretty. so that was the other candy I selected. The taste was ... startling. It was sort of like Sweetarts, but more intense. It was amazing that something that was basically just a ball of sugar, could be so tart and tangy at the same times. Tamarind seeds are included for prolonged puckering pleasure. After getting over the assertive taste ... well, it was kind of addictive.

      1. re: rworange

        Anyone know where one can find candies of these kinds in NYC, ideally Manhattan?



        1. re: Denis

          It would be best to post on the Manhattan or NY boards and link to this report.

          My experience though is that, while there might be some in NY, they really won't be that good.

          When I worked in Mexico for a year, some of the great candies there you just couldn't find in SF which has a pretty big Mexican presence. The selection was very small and usually not that fresh.

          However, it never hurts to ask.

          Maybe you can contact El Sombron in Antigua and they could ship some to you. Here is their website.

      2. re: rworange

        I tried a few more dulces. Some were listed above and some were new

        ZAPOTIO - Zowie … one of the best sweets I had in my life. The rich mouth-feel was incredible … like the densest whipped cream … or the texture of the lightest, most heavenly mashed potatoes. It was like waking up on the softest featherbed in a world class hotel on a lazy Sunday morning. Sheer luxury.

        It is the brown and white candy. It is made from zapote fruit and that must be what gives it that amazing consistency. Zapote is somewhat like sweet potatoes.

        There were nice notes of cinnamon in it. So far I have only seen these at one store in Antigua, so they might be a creation of that shop ... the best creation since God said “Let there be light … “

        Needless to say, I liked these a lot and would buy them again.

        NUÉGADOS – I finally tried these stacked and glazed donut holes (no photo). They were denser than an American cake donut and with a little more spice like cinnamon. Even though the thick sugary glaze was sweet, I liked these and would buy them again.

        NARANJITA – That is the little orange candy with a green leaf. This was lovely, finely grated orange rind, almost the texture of grated coconut. It was rolled in course white sugar. This wasn’t too sweet and had nice flavor. The leaf was made of paper.

        GOMITAS – Square fruit jellies covered in sugar Fine if you like that sort of thing. The cherry and orange gomitas I tried had a lot of flavor that was similar to the taste Lifesavers. This term is also used for gummy bears.

        HUEVO CHIMBO - This blogger wrote “briefly dip the egg strips into a hot spiced syrup to which you have added currants, prunes, and liquor, preferably good quality liquor.

        It is the item in the photo below that is to the far left. Maybe you take it home and create the syrup. It was very sweet and dissolved like a sugar cube in my mouth. It reminded me of the sticky sweetness of baklava but without the phylo. I don't like baklava. There was a little lemony taste and background cinnamon. That brown strip in the center was a piece of cinnamon bark.

        AFRICANAS– That is that big round white cookie to the left. Though the recipes I've read say they have egg yolks, these reminded me of a cross between a meringue and a sugar cookie. It had the crisp texture and taste of a meringue, but the flour in it was evident. This is probably one of the sweets that I've tried so far that I like best. Unlike most, it is not overly sweet and a pleasant, light cookie.

      3. Two corrections to my original post

        Melcocha's are the sweet I guessed were Colochos – Curls. This is indeed called melcocha

        Some are white others are brown. The candy vendor said the difference was whether they were made with white sugar or brown sugar.

        I tried a new item at the candy vendor called tomposte.

        These looked like potato chips but are made from corn. They are not like corn chips in the US. There is a sweetness to them. They were ndicely charred in spots and very thin like a pototo chip.

        It seems that epending on the country, tompostes can be different things, but they are all corn based

        1. Here's a nice photo from Antigua Daily Photo of a plate of Guatemalan sweets.

          Starting from the white candy on the left: cocada blanca, red bola de tamarindo, caramel-colored canillitas de leche, colocho de guayaba, yellow and green espumilla (and the pink one in the center), panito de Chimaltenango (I think, new to me), dulce de zapote, bocadillo de pepitoria, bocadillo de ajonjoli, higo (black fig next to the pink meringue espumilla) and a few I'm not sure of. A poster to that site mentioned tartarita de almendra, mazapan, cocada negra and nuegado, but the versions of those sweets that I've seen don't match the photo.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange

            Ooops, meant to include this photo of a typical Guatemalan candy stand