Saturday, July 20, 2024

Have you tried Mexico’s delicious ‘drunken’ candies?

You probably know we Mexicans love spicy sweets. But did you know we also love candy with alcohol? Called borrachitos — “little drunks” — these candies date back to the arrival of the Spanish and are a staple in Mexican traditional celebrations. They have the consistency of gummies, except they’re covered with sugar and infused with alcohol and fruit flavors. 

While there is no official record as to the birthplace of borrachitos, the most accepted theory is that the nuns of the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla — the same convent that created chile en nogada and mole poblano — created these sweets as a thank you gesture to the church’s benefactors. Due to their success, people started selling them. 

Kitchen of the ex-convent of Santa Rosa
Legendary dishes such as mole poblano, chile en nogada and borrachitos were allegedly created in this convent kitchen. (Museos Puebla/Facebook)

Made with cornstarch or gelatine, milk and sugar, borrachitos come in flavors such as strawberry, pineapple and coconut. 

Traditionally, the nuns infused the sweets with brandy, rum or eggnog.  As their popularity grew, different regions added their own flair to the delicacy. 

One of the most distinctive variants hails from Jalisco, which infused borrachitos with — you guessed it — tequila. Jalisco borrachitos have no fruit base, making tequila the main flavor. Another original version later appeared in Oaxaca, where the sweets were infused with mezcal, now one of Mexico’s trendiest spirits.

While the borrachitos in Puebla, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and other states are colored using red, green or Mexican pink dye, borrachitos in Jalisco don’t use dye at all. Instead, they remain a natural beige color to indicate the only flavoring is tequila. 

Borrachitos de tequila
Jalisco’s tequila-only borrachitos are unflavored and uncolored to indicate their purity. (Dulces típicos de don Raúl/Facebook)

Where to buy borrachitos?

Some supermarkets sell borrachitos in the dulcería, or candy section. However, these don’t usually taste as good as the artisanal ones found in tienditas, markets, traditional candy stores and on roadsides stalls connecting cities and towns. 

Since borrachitos were born in Puebla, the road to this city is one of the most popular places in all of Mexico to buy them. 

In Jalisco, the expat paradises of Chapala, Jocotepec and Ajijic, on the shores of Lake Chapala, are known for producing some of the best artisanal borrachitos in the state. Vendors typically sell them on the side of the roads in small plastic bags containing five or six sweets per bag. You can find borrachitos infused with tequila and eggnog or flavored with fruit; the latter come in red, yellow or green. 

If you’re not on the road and don’t live near traditional candy shops or stalls, Dulcerías D’Raque in Guadalajara has an extensive selection of artisanal borrachitos and traditional sweets from all over the country. Their tequila borrachitos are particularly delicious.

Can I prepare borrachitos at home?

For this recipe, you need little more than hot water and gelatin. (Freepik)

Borrachitos are so simple, that you can make your own at home. The process is simple: boil water with gelatin, add the fruit of your choice, then alcohol and sugar.  To simplify the process, you can substitute fresh fruit with flavored gelatine. Once the mix thickens, dust it with sugar before cutting it into rectangles or squares. 

Below you’ll find two different recipes for borrachitos: milk-based tequila borrachitos and fruit borrachitos. Enjoy! 

Tequila borrachitos 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unflavored gelatin

1 cup water

½ cup whole milk

½ cup corn syrup 

1 ½ cups white sugar 

½ cup tequila or liquor of your choice

½ cup cornstarch

Preparation:

Mix the gelatin with water to hydrate it.

Add the milk to a saucepan with the sugar and corn syrup. Heat to boil over medium to low heat, stirring all the time. Once the mix thickens, add the hydrated gelatin and mix until all lumps disappear. 

Remove saucepan from heat and let the mix cool for a few minutes. Add the tequila and mix well.

Coat a rectangular glass mold with cornstarch, ensuring that all surface and sides are covered. Place the mixture in the mold and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least three hours. 

Once cooled, unmold the mix and use a napkin to remove any trace of cornstarch. 

Cut the mix into small rectangles and dust with white sugar.

Fruit borrachitos 

Ingredients 

1 tbsp fruit-flavored gelatin 

2 cups water

50 g cornstarch

½ cup of white sugar

3 tbsp of rum or liquor of your choice

Preparation

Heat 1 ½ cup of water in a saucepan. Once it starts to boil, add the sugar and mix until it dissolves. Add the gelatin and mix well. 

In a separate container, mix ½ cup of warm water with the cornstarch until all lumps disappear and you get an even consistency. Pour this mixture into the saucepan with the gelatin and continue mixing until it slightly thickens. 

Turn off the heat and let the mix cool for a few minutes. Add the liquor of your choice and mix one last time.

Pour the mix into a glass mold and let cool in the refrigerator for at least three hours. 

Once cooled, unmold. Cut the mix into small squares and dust with white sugar.

Gabriela Solis is a Mexican lawyer turned full-time writer. She was born and raised in Guadalajara and covers business, culture, lifestyle and travel for Mexico News Daily. You can follow her lifestyle blog Dunas y Palmeras.

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