10 Best Desserts to Try in Valencia
If you have a sweet tooth, Valencia is the perfect destination for you. Home to a variety of mouth-watering desserts, Valencia boasts an exquisite range of almond, anise, orange, and pumpkin-infused treat that will make your taste buds dance with joy. Here I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Valencian desserts that you just have to try. Without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into the best desserts Valencia has to offer!
1. Coca de llanda
Coca de llanda is a light sponge cake, beloved by young and old alike. A staple in bakeries around Valencia, this satiating treat is typically eaten for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of horchata.
Interestingly enough, the name of this cake comes from the rectangular pan it is traditionally baked in (llanda). The recipe calls for simple ingredients and it’s rare for the household that doesn’t have a favorite recipe passed down through generations.
Coca de llanda comes in many variations. There’s coca de llanda with chocolate, lemon, pumpkin, and of course, Valencian oranges. Finding your favorite is part of the fun!
2. Rollitos de anís
Rollitos de anís are delicious little cookies very popular in Valencia, particularly at Christmas and Easter, when they are enjoyed accompanied by a glass of mistela or anise liqueur, two very typical Valencian drinks. They can also be served with coffee after a hearty meal whose main course is usually paella.
These cylindrical treats are made with anise seeds or anise-flavored liqueur, which gives them a mildly spicy flavor, and have a crumbly texture in the best possible way.
Some bakeries prepare a variation of these pastries with sweet mistela wine, called rollitos de mistela.
3. Pumpkin buñuelos (buñuelos de calabaza)
Pumpkin buñuelos are finger-licking good small, round fritters. They are typically served piping hot, dusted with sugar, and dunked in thick hot chocolate.
Buñuelos de calabaza are a popular dessert in Valencia during the winter months and especially during the annual Las Fallas festival when street stands selling this delicacy appear all over the city.
The pumpkin buñuelos are crisp on the outside and moist and soft on the inside. There’s also a version without pumpkin, but most locals actually prefer the pumpkin ones.
4. Pastel de boniato
If you visit Valencia at Christmas, you have to try pastel de boniato. This delicious baked turnover of Arab origins is one of the most popular desserts in Valencia during the holidays.
Pastel de boniato has a creamy, sweet potato and cinnamon filling wrapped in a crispy, anise-flavored dough. It is often dusted with powdered sugar and is easily found in bakeries around Valencia.
These sweet treats are the perfect excuse to get into the holiday spirit due to their wonderfully spicy flavor. Valencianos usually nibble on them after meals and pair them with coffee or anise-flavored liqueur.
5. Horchata and fartóns
Horchata and fartóns are a popular mid-afternoon snack in Valencia, especially during the scorching summer months when you’ll find sidewalk terraces packed with locals enjoying this decadent snack.
Horchata is made from ground tiger nuts, sugar, and water. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and is typically served ice cold.
Fartóns, on the other hand, are elongated confections made from a soft, sponge-like dough and dusted with powdered sugar. Their purpose is to be dunked in horchata, and you’ll never see a Valenciano eating them without.
Panquemado is a type of sweet bread typically eaten in Valencia at Easter. The name “panquemado” literally translates to “burnt bread,” but the bread itself is not actually burnt.
Panquemado has a slightly sweet and aromatic flavor and a pleasantly soft and fluffy texture. The traditional preparation uses sweet anise, lemon, and orange zest.
The dough is shaped into small, round loaves and then baked until golden brown. Panquemado is usually served with coffee and is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack.
Turrón is a traditional Christmas dessert made with almonds and honey. It originated in the Valencia region from where it spread out throughout Spain.
The most popular types of turrón are soft turrón (turrón de Jijona) and hard turrón (turrón de Alicante), which has a texture similar to nougat.
These days, supermarkets commercialize many other types of turrón, from marzipan to mojito flavored. However, if you want to try a high-quality authentic turrón, you should buy from a specialist shop (but beware, as some of them are only open during the winter months).
8. Marzipan fruits
If you’re in Valencia at the beginning of October, you’ll see colorful marzipan fruits in bakery windows throughout the city. This is due to a long-standing tradition wherein men give these delectable treats to their partners on October 9th, the Day of Saint Dionysius, the patron saint of lovers.
These small colorful sweets are made with a mixture of ground almonds and sugar and are shaped to resemble a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Every year, pastry shops throughout Valencia compete for the best marzipan sweets and the winners proudly exhibit their awards.
Arnadí is a traditional dessert from the Valencia region, especially popular in the towns of Xátiva and Gandia.
Made with pumpkin or sweet potato paste and almonds, this wonderful dessert has a super creamy texture. It is typically prepared in an earthenware dish and decorated with whole toasted almonds.
Of Arab origins, the arnadí is one of the oldest puddings in Spain and my absolutely favorite Valencian dessert. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any bakery that prepares it in Valencia. But it’s easy to find in Xátiva or Gandia during the winter holiday season or Easter. Both these towns make excellent day trips from Valencia and can be reached by train.
10. Valencian oranges
Valencian oranges are famous for being sweet and juicy, and the locals have truly honed their skills in making the most out of them.
Sure you’ll find freshly squeezed orange juice in almost any cafeteria. But Valencian oranges taste so good, that many restaurants are proud to include them on their dessert menu as well.
Orange-infused desserts are also a thing in Valencia. Keep your eyes peeled for goodies like orange sponge cake (known as coca de llanda de naranja), orange sorbet, orange ice cream, and even orange flan! You won’t be disappointed!