The Catalans love to have a dessert, cake or pastry for most of their holidays. If you're a pastry connoisseur or just love trying new desserts, then look no further than these traditional pastries you can find all over Barcelona when the time is right. Treat yourself to some of the sweets that the Catalans have been enjoying for decades.
Tortell de reis
Eaten on Kings' Day on January 6, this pastry takes the shape of a crown with candied jewels on top. The base is a standard sponge-type cake, but hidden inside the cream or marzipan centre you find two surprises, which traditionally are a bean and a figurine. It's said that if you find the figurine, you're the king or queen of the day, but if you find the bean, you get to pay for the cake.
Bunyols de Quaresma
A treat for the season of Lent (Quaresma in Catalan), bunyols are fried dumplings made with flour, butter and eggs, and sprinkled with sugar. You can think of these sweets as Lent doughnuts or the Christian version of what you might know as the Jewish delicacy bimuelos. You might find some shaped like traditional doughnuts, with the hole in the middle, and these have an anise flavour and are covered with heaps of sugar; others look like doughnut holes and are balls with a less intense flavour and usually no to little sugar covering them.
Mona de Pasqua
With chocolate figurines and decorations of all sorts, this sponge cake embraces Easter creativity, and is a delicious way to celebrate the end of Lent. Although each cake is unique, typically they're topped with chocolate and feathers, candy, nuts or some sort of Easter egg on top. Traditionally, this pastry was something godparents gave to their godchildren, but feel free to get one for yourself at the bakery closest to you.
Coca de Sant Joan
Celebrating the summer solstice and the birth of Saint John the Baptist, coca is enjoyed on June 23 and 24 each year for the massive Sant Joan festival. This flat, sweet cake is typically twice as long as it is wide and is topped with candied fruits, nuts and sugar. Gorgeous variations also include those covered or filled with cream. Feel free to embrace tradition and enjoy this cake with a glass of cava or dessert wine, and alongside the fireworks and bonfires that feature as part of the celebrations.
These simple and tasty treats are made for the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1. Traditionally, panellets were given to church bell ringers who stayed up the night of All Saints Day ringing bells, reminding the neighbours to pray for loved ones lost. The original recipe is easy, using potatoes, almonds, eggs and sugar, but many variations have come about that include dried fruit, nuts and marmalade or jam. A few days before All Saints Day, you'll most likely see bakeries filling up with these small sweets of every variety as they prepare for the celebration.
Jijona's claim to fame, torró, is made with almonds, honey, egg yolks and sugar, and comes in two traditional forms: one that’s soft from Jijona and one that’s crunchy from Alicante. You can find many different flavour additions these days, including chocolate, dried fruits, nuts and liqueurs, but be aware that the most important ingredient will almost always be almonds. Although it's typical to devour torró at Christmas, there are plenty of shops in Barcelona that stock them year round.
Another Christmas delicacy, neules, are thin, wafer-like sticks made of flour, butter, sugar, honey and cinnamon. Having the Latin-root of ‘nebula’, meaning cloud, neulas are so delicate and crunchy that it's a bit too easy to gobble down more than your share in one sitting. Try them plain, dipped in chocolate or even stuffed with torró.
One of the oldest, most famous patisseries in the city. Christian Escribà has revolutionised traditional patisserie and cake-making with his creativity and custom-made cakes and pastries. But just as you don’t get married or celebrate a major anniversary every day, every so often, just treat yourself and drop into one of their shops and try one of their specialities with a coffee – or a glass of cava.
Lorena and Pablo turned this cosy spot into an eatery that is really (as the name suggests) sweet. Initially a place serving dessert, success led them to introduce a series of imaginative, tasty dishes, with a special lunchtime menu and an excellent one for evening meals. Good music and a friendly atmosphere make a night at Dolso a very special experience. They do great gin & tonics. What a nice surprise!
Satisfy both your sweet tooth and your taste for nostalgia at this traditional chocolate shop where the chocolates are the product of maestro Michel Laline. His are artisanal creations in the form of strips you can gulp down, chunky bars in an array of flavours and of course, for the more traditional, the good old bonbon.