In the last few years, conchas have moved from IRL sensation to internet faves. And part of that is because conchas are delicious, but the other part is because restaurant owners continue transforming the pan dulce into new iterations.
Traditional conchas come in a shell-like shape and feature a sugary crust on top. While they’re typically eaten alone, many people dip conchas in hot chocolate to dampen the sugary coat with more sweetness. Pan dulce is a staple of Mexican cuisine, with Spanish influence, as early conquerors brought with them wheat-based breads for dietary and religious purposes. Yet, today’s pan dulce is a mixture of both corn and wheat flours, which is why the sweet bread is considered a purely a Mexican creation that combines the heritage of both Spanish and Indigenous cultures.
But tradition has become a thing of the past when it comes to conchas, and today, reimagined pan dulces have taken over bakeries and restaurants all over the world, even winning a James Beard Foundation competition in 2016 and inspiring a 4-year-old’s birthday party earlier this year. Thanks to the internet, pan dulce will never be the same again.
Take a look at the best conchas the world has created.
Donchas are a combination of a donut and a concha created in Mexico City by Enrique Alva, who owns a bakery called Panadería San José. The hybrid pan dulce comes in three versions – vanilla, chocolate, and multicolor – and is basically a donut topped with a concha crust. Alva named the multicolor version the “Natalias” in honor of his daughter.
The rosconchas merges the traditional Rosca de Reyes with a concha and is the perfect innovation for the holidays. It’s basically the same rosca we’ve been eating for centuries with a concha crust on top. The jury is still out on whether or not they’ll become a Christmas staple.
Manteconchas are traditional conchas enhanced by mantecadas, a buttery muffin-like bread that originated in the León province in Spain. The viral sensation was created in Querétaro, Mexico, at a 20-year-old bakery called Panadería El Manantial. Meanwhile, Twitter is still debating whether it’s an abomination or a game-changer.
Concha Burger Buns
The concha burger was the winner of the Blended Burger Project by the James Beard Foundation in 2016 and was created by Bobby and Adrian Cruz of Rock Ur Belly Catering and Grub Run in McAllen, Texas, which has since closed its doors. But El Paso Chihuahuas, a minor league baseball team in Texas, recently began selling concha burgers at its stadium as well, reviving a Texan favorite.
You may remember Starbucks’ Unicorn Frapuccino and Wet N Wild’s full-blown unicorn collection from 2017. But pan dulce also got a unicorn makeover thanks to El Bolillo bakery in Houston, Texas. The colorful spin on the Mexican classic became an instant hit on social media with two million hits on the bakery’s Facebook and Instagram pages two days after it launched.