Every country has its own classic sweets and treats. I can’t tell you how often I get a craving for some Cherry Ripe or Tim Tams (this will not make any sense to you if you’re not Australian or you’ve not been to Australia) and even though you can’t get either in Colombia, the good news is that getting your sugar buzz will not be difficult. They put sugar in everything here. I’ve seen madness in the form of drinking condensed milk straight from the tin, coca cola with cereal instead of milk (not common but still wtf?), honey added to sweeten freshly squeezed OJ that’s already sweet and fruit salads covered with cream and condensed milk.
I try not to snack too often but sometimes it’s hard not to with all the treats you can find on almost any street corner or supermarket. Here are my top 5 go to Colombian sweets:
Arequipe is a caramely confection that is made from heating milk and sugar. It’s good on bread, pastries, cakes and makes for a delicious ice cream flavour too. I, like many others, prefer to just dig in straight up with a spoon. There’s loads of different brands available but Alpina is the most common and my personal favourite. You can get them in medium or large packs but good luck trying not to eat it all in one sitting. The good thing about Colombia is they sell them in these tiny single portion packs which is just enough for a little afternoon tea treat. I used to buy the medium packs but would find myself going back to the supermarket every second day so unless you’re disciplined enough I suggest going with the small.
If I had to say which of these 5 sweets wins the award for highest consumption per capita, it would have to be Chocoramo. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a single Colombian who doesn’t like Chocoramo. It’s like Vegemite to Australians; it’s not just a snack, it’s a cultural identity. This generous portion of sponge cake covered in chocolate can get you through the day when you don’t have time or money for a full meal or it can be just what you need as a filler on a long afternoon when dinner seems so far away.
Just like Chocoramo, Supercoco has been around for generations. These little caramel-coconut-nougat thingys are more addictive than popping Tic-tacs and at 100 pesos/dose, they represent a danger to any sugar fiend. They’re like a fast food version of a cocada, a coconut based dessert from the costal region which I’ll talk about in a separate post. For now, do yourself a favour and grab a handful of these next time you head to the shops.
When I first moved to Bogota, my former room mates and I decided to have a little “what’s the best brownie” in Bogota hunt. Unfortunately, the winning brand doesn’t exist any more. I have this idea that someone out there bought up the last box and has it hidden away in case the Zombies take over. I digress. The Mamamia brownie isn’t so much a brownie as it is a chocolate cake, but it’s absolutely deeeeeee-lish. If you’re lucky enough to find it with arequipe, or rasberry jam, get a few because they always sell out but the original plain chocolate is pretty damn satisfying too.
When it comes to chocolate, I’ve always favored the simple, non-fancy milk chocolate bar (hey, not all of us can afford to eat expensive European chocolate all the time). If you want a quick fix of cheap milk chocolate, it’s called Jet. I get the tiny one block pack beause I try to impose some self control but for those of you who need more, don’t fret, they’re also available in larger, real world sizes.