Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics


5 Mouthwatering Tropical Desserts From Around the World

The luscious landscapes, exotic fruits, and plentiful chocolate sources make the tropics an unmatched resource for desserts. Many of these sweet treats have achieved a level of cult following — both from natives and travelling admirers. If the idea of coconuts, decadent chocolate, bananas, and other tropical flavors has your mouth watering, we have pulled together a guide to help you know where you should aim your sails to enjoy the best cult desserts of the tropics.

You can start right here.

Cendol, Malaysia

On a blistering hot tropical day, there are very few snacks that can refresh and replenish your energy like a bowl of cendol. At first glance, cendol looks eerily like a milky vegetable soup. A type of neon-colored milky vegetable soup. The first-time visitor to Malaysia may find cendol’s appearance a little disconcerting, yet if you can get over the texture of the ingredients – a main ingredient being starched jelly noodles – then you’ll be lapping it all up in no time. Cendol is a very traditional, much-beloved dessert in Southeast Asia – and in Malaysia, it absolutely reigns supreme. Cendol is a delectable concoction of colored rice flour noodles, drowning in a bowl of palm sugar sweetened coconut milk, and shaved ice.. The best in the country? Definitely in historic Georgetown on Penang Island, where the cult-following of Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol stand have made it the country’s most celebrated.



Brigadeiro, Brazil

Travel to Brazil and you’ll no doubt find about a dozen spectacularly delicious desserts in which to indulge. Renowned for growing the world’s best nuts, tropical fruits and chocolate, Brazil has invented a whole cuisine around super-sweet fried foods smothered either in flowing chocolate or coconut milk and, more often than not, both. The most famous dessert in Brazil is the brigadeiro, a densely rich chocolate truffle ball made of cocoa powder, condensed milk and pure butter, all melted and amalgamated over a low heat. Once the thick, heavenly mix has cooled, superb bite-sized balls are made and rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Because, why not?



Banana & Chocolate Pancake, Laos

This may not be the fanciest dessert in the tropical world, but in this neck of the Southeast Asian woods, the banana and chocolate pancake is about as cult as a dessert can get. There’s even a whole tourist trail named after the delicious-at-any-time treat. The Banana Pancake Trail marks out a well-trodden backpacker route that sees thousands of visitors crisscross this region every year. Although you’ll find pancake stalls adorning every second street corner of at least half a dozen countries, it is in Laos where the pancake’s fame originated, and it’s right here that you’ll find it at its yummiest. The most coveted pancakes are those found at the night-markets of Luang Prabang, where sellers out-grill themselves to offer variations which include banana and Nutella (the most popular of all), evaporated milk, shaved coconut, and even ice-cream.

Laos banana & chocolate pancake

Banana & Chocolate Pancake


Banana Na Binja, Aruba

Caribbean desserts are known for being a drool-worthy, perfect blend of Spanish and African flavors. Sweeter and naughtier than most, desserts in the Caribbean are usually quite rich, both in flavor and content. Luckily, guilty pleasures are part and parcel of a vacation in the Caribbean, so whether it be the Bahamas, Aruba or St Lucia, you can indulge to your heart’s content without feeling guilty about the extra calorific splurge. After all, kilojoules on holiday don’t count, right? Head to Aruba and reward your taste buds with endless serves of banana na binja, delectable grilled plantains, which are doused in a sauce made of dark brown sugar, port wine and water, and spiced with a pinch of cinnamon. The whole brew is then cooked on low heat for a few minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens.


Grilled Plantains (Photo Flickr wiserbailey)

Churros y Chocolate, Mexico

The country whose ancient culture invented chocolate is arguably the best tropical dessert destination of all. Once you learn that Mexicans include chocolate in their chicken dishes, you realize what cacao-obsessed cuisine you’ll have at the tip of your taste buds. With the addition of ripe coconuts, flowy caramel and exotic fruits, the list of desserts in Mexican cuisine is quite extensive. Although you’ll find delicious famous South American desserts here, like sweet rice puddings, caramel flan, and pan dulces (sweet breads), there is one dessert that has earned a cult following in Mexico: churros. No matter how mouthwatering the pastry of these scrumptious fried strip donuts may be in other countries, it’s the quality of the chocolate dipping sauces served in Mexico that macipe}kes them the very best. One could skip the churros and simply drink the chocolate sauce, but that may be a bit rude. Think of churros as your heavenly fried dough spoons and savor that chocolate gold like it’s your last day on earth.

Churros y chocolate (Photo Flickr Tim Lucas)

Churros y chocolate (Photo Flickr Tim Lucas)


Want to replicate the taste of Mexico at home? Then follow our easy recipes for making churros y chocolate at home, and turn your next dinner party into a smashing fiesta!


5 Mouthwatering Tropical Desserts From Around the World
For the churros
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 medium-sized eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
For the topping
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the chocolate sauce
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups good quality dark chocolate, melted over a double broiler
  1. Heat the canola oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and salt with 1 cup of water, in a heavy-set pan, over low heat
  3. Slowly incorporate the flour a little at a time to the warm mix, stirring and mixing with a wooden spoon
  4. Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, and continue to stir as you go along until all is mixed well
  5. Take a piping bag with a meta star-shaped tip, and fill with the dough mix
  6. Once the oil has reached the desired temperature, drop the dough strips into the oil, cutting them with scissors when about 6 inches long. Fry until golden brown
  7. While the churros are frying, add the cinnamon to the cup of sugar and mix thoroughly
  8. Once churros are fried, remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper for a minute
  9. Roll the churros in the cinnamon sugar and serve, piping hot, alongside a bowl of melted chocolate

Written by

Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 11 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now, along with her partner in love and travel, riding a motorbike from Germany to Australia. Laura moonlights as a freelance travel writer and, between adventures, loves sharing her travel ramblings on her personal website:Laura's Travel Tales

  • Organic Health

    Thanks for sharing these amazingly delicious and mothwatering recipe. It has been a great help. Keep sharing and caring.

    • TropicsGourmet

      Thanks so much for your comments, glad you like our thoughts!