Latin Delicacies from Entenmmans

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Delicias Latinas is not, contrary to some speculation, a new strip club, nor a new porn magazine. It is, in fact, the new line of pastries from Entenmann’s. You may have recently noticed some yellow and orange-tinged boxes mixed in with those iconic white ones you drool over in the grocery store. In February, Entenmann’s launched their new line in the hopes of attracting a growing Hispanic market. Apparently, the company has gotten hold of a cultural secret — as my neighbor Julia says, “a nostros los hispanos, todo que engorda, nos gusta” (for us Hispanics, we like anything that makes us fat).

The line incorporates some old favorites, such as the Guava Cheese puffs my mom frequently eats for breakfast, and the Pineapple Crunch Loaf of which I’ve never been a fan. New products include Coco y Leche Cookies, Mango Loaf, Dulce de Leche Cake, Tres Leche Cake, and Guava Cake. Entenmann’s is very proud of their pastries and insist that they are like just-baked home-made deserts. They say that Hispanic moms and grandmas will be proud to serve these as their own. Well, I decided to test these claims out, first with my own parents, and then with the neighboring moms (some dads and kids) who were stuck in my local laundromat on a Saturday night.

Here are the findings, opinions and comments elicited per item:

When speaking to friends, the mango loaf evoked the most dubious comments; people find it hard to imagine a pound cake with a swirl of mango flavoring in the center. The loaf does emit a strong smell and the swirl – a product of mango puree, annatto color, yellow 6 and red 40 – looked like cheddar. My parents thought it looked pretty, but were ambivalent about the taste. Surprisingly, in my taste test, this was one of the most liked, along with the coconut cookies. Most said this was because all the other products were on average too sweet.

The coco y leche cookies are absolutely delicious. Soft and chewy, they taste of fresh coconut. Carmen, one of the ladies who partook in my tasting, stumbled upon my test on her way to the grocery store to buy some cookies. On tasting these, she decided that they would be the ones she’d buy. Another lady told me she had a package of these waiting for her at home. These were a hit even with my parents, and reminded me of (dare I say it) home-made dulce de coco con leche.

THE CAKES The cakes are rather similar and consist of a vanilla sponge cake covered with different kinds of very sweet frosting. I had been curious about the Tres Leches Cake since I first saw it in my bodega. I love ordering it in restaurants and wondered what this packaged version would be like. I knew it wasn’t going to be anything like the real thing, because a cake soaked in milk and cream wouldn’t last more than a few hours without refrigeration. The Entenmann’s version is beautiful to look at, but it is overly sweet. The white frosting is smooth, but tastes like pure sugar. With no other topping to interrupt or add flavor to the cake, this one cloys quickly. The Guava cake has a similar icing but with ribbons of guava added. This addition, both sweet and tart, makes this version more palatable. As another taster noted, the guava tastes fresh y no empalaga. The dulce de leche cake, although also very sweet, did well among the laundromat patrons. This vanilla sponge cake is covered in a strong caramel tasting frosting and topped off with roasted coconut. The complexity of the caramel flavoring perhaps contributed to its acceptance. My own parents weren’t fans of any of the cakes. “Y el relleno?” (Where’s the filling?) my mom asked of the Guava Cake. “It’s just like any other bizcochito de cajita.” Yeah, pretty much.

The Pineapple Loaf doesn’t taste much like pineapple. It looks a bit dry and crumbles quickly. it is covered in walnuts and sprinkled with coarse raw sugar, a detail my mother disliked immediately. Many of my neighbors, however, liked this choice as well (in reality, there wasn’t much they didn’t like), citing that its subtle taste was welcome considering many of the other overly sweet choices.

Ok, I must confess, no one at the laundromat got to taste these. As I mentioned before, these are my mom’s favorite treats, and she didn’t let me take them out of the house. For those of you not familiar with these, they are very good. A flaky philo dough outside is filled with a subtle guava filling. The cheese diffuses the taste of the guava a little bit, but not to any detriment. Instead, the classic pairing of fruit and cheese works well.

All in all, I think my neighbors were just glad to get some free food. Personally, I was in sugar shock for days, and still cringe when confronted with sweets. After a bit of detox though, don’t be surprised to see me behind you in the checkout counter with a box of Entenmann’s coco cookies.