Molletes Dulces, Puebla’s Best-Kept Culinary Secret
Few places on Earth can satisfy a sweet tooth like the Calle de los Dulces in Puebla. You can almost get a sugar fix just walking by the shops that line Avenida 6 Oriente, their windows and display cases stuffed with traditional candies and cookies.
Once inside, you can choose among dozens of confections to please your palate, from camotes (fruit-flavored sweet potato “cigars”), borrachitos (tequila-infused gum drops), and candied fruits to muéganos (of various kinds), tortitas de Santa Clara (shortbread-like rounds iced with a pepita glaze), and polvorones (sometimes known as Mexican wedding cookies). And, at this time of year, there’s one particular treat that’s sought-after by a few savvy locals: molletes dulces (pictured above).
Molletes? We know, we know. Molletes in Mexico are usually a savory item, often served for breakfast. The basic version is a bolillo or another sandwich roll that’s cut in half, slathered with butter (or not), topped with refried beans, melted cheese, and pico de gallo. Tasty, but these aren’t those. Never heard of molletes dulces? You aren’t alone: Even some Poblanos are unfamiliar with the sugary kind.
“In Puebla, we have many things—memelas, chalupas, molotes, mole, esquites, chileatole, chiles en nogada, our typical sweets, among others … and the molletes that I know aren’t a dessert!” Lucet Gonzalez recently posted on our Facebook page, making us hungry.
“I’m not familiar with those,” added Christine Romero.
“They’re delicious, and they’re only made for the fiesta de Santa Clara … very few people know about them,” chimed in Carlos Rojas Xicotencatl.
“Where to they make them and when?” asked Tammy Fernando.
Good question! Permit us to explain, at least as much as we’ve been able to dig up about this little-known delight.
Molletes dulces — sometimes called molletes poblanos or molletes de coco — are sweet buns filled with custard, sherry or rum, and sometimes coconut and topped with an icing made of finely ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The recipe for the bread, notes chef Ricardo Muñoz-Zurita in an article for Mexico Desconocido, is “jealously guarded.” But he compares it to a concha in size, shape, and ingredients, which he lists as “wheat flour, yeast, salt, sugar, egg, and butter.”
Muñoz-Zurita and other observers say that molletes dulces can be had from Father’s Day in June to Independence Day in September, even early October — but we’ve never found them before late July. (Their availability tends to coincide with chiles en nogada season.)
The origins of the dessert are unknown, yet the earliest recipe dates back at least four generations. According to El Universal, the dessert was originally made to celebrate the feast day of Santa Clara (St. Clare of Assisi). It’s possible that we owe its creation to the nuns of the ex-Convent of Santa Clara themselves, who are credited with concocting their namesake tortitas and myriad other typical sweets. The former convent, located at the corner of Avenida 6 Oriente at Calle 2 Norte, is nestled among the various shops on the Calle de los Dulces that sell it today.
Get ’em while you can, for about 55 pesos a pop.
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
Want to learn more about the city’s gastronomy? Take a typical foods tour, which includes a stop on the Calle de los Dulces, with us!