The occasions in life that make one feel “like a kid in a candy store” are special. Urban Dictionary describes the feeling this way: “A state of utter fascination, with many good or tempting things all around you.” Sounds a lot like the experience of walking into a real candy store in Mexico’s Bajio region. Naranja Dulce in the International Mercado de Artesanias in San Miguel de Allende is just such a place…
There are almost too many choices! Shredded coconut bars, chocolate dipped orange rind, palenquetas (discs of nuts, pumpkin seeds, or amaranth covered in honey). But the really special treat here and in every candy store in the region is the cajeta. Cajeta (sometimes referred to in the US as dulce de leche) was born here in the nearby city of Celaya where they still make the best caramelized milk candy in the world. The real deal is made with scalded goat’s milk or a mix of goat and cow milk, and there’s nothing like it. Various places offer cajeta on ice cream or in crepes or spread onto wafers to make an amazing cookie…and it’s superb rolled in nuts.
Though dulce de leche has only become popular in recent years in the US, this sweet treat has been around a long time in Mexico. During Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain, cajeta was an important food for the Mexican troops as it could be easily stored and transported, and it lasted for months. In 2010 the candy was declared the bicentennial dessert to honor its history and tradition.
I still have a few pieces left from last month’s trip.
Behind the scenes in the candy shop…
Naranja Dulce has two locations in San Miguel de Allende — at the International Mercado de Artesanias and on Calle Loreto (No.38) in Centro. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; in San Miguel — 415-100-8027 and 415-113-2955
“Los Dulces de San Miguel de Allende” by Ana Martinez Casas has additional photos of some of the amazing treats.