Komali’s Coconut Chocolate Bread Pudding:
Komali DMNDessert menus at Mexican restaurants used to be predictable: flan, rice pudding, sopapillas, crepes with cajeta, and tres leches cake — a Nicaraguan favorite popular throughout Latin America.Although you still see these classics, the rise of modern Mexican cuisine is bringing far more innovative desserts to the table. Local chefs are giving American desserts a Mexican twist and tweaking Mexican mainstays, sometimes adopting their English names to lure less adventurous diners.

At Komali, the Coconut-Chocolate Bread Pudding might not sound particularly Mexican, but it’s an inspired riff on a Mexican classic.

“It’s our take on a contemporary capirotada, which is a Mexican bread pudding,” chef Anastacia Quiñones says. “We use toasted coconut and Mexican chocolate chunks, and coconut milk in the custard instead of just milk or water.”

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream, made by Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Plano, tops it off, but you can use Dutch chocolate ice cream, too. Although it looks like an ordinary, homey bread pudding, our recipe tasters found it far tastier and more exciting than conventional versions.

Chile-chocolate desserts, once an adventurous pairing, have gone mainstream. Iron Cactus Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar features a rich Chipotle Chocolate Torte at all five of its Texas locations.

The chocolate-chile combo is a crowd-pleaser; it even turns up in chocolate bars sold at supermarkets.

Chocolate desserts aren’t the only ones getting chile-kissed. At Blue Mesa Grill, the smoky heat and earthy depth of puréed guajillo chile complements cinnamon-sugared apples in Guajillo Apple Pandowdy (a cobbler variation). A cornmeal-enriched crust gives the pandowdy even more of a Mexican accent. The restaurant hired pastry chef Katherine Clapner, owner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate, to create this dessert and others on the menu.

At Mí Día From Scratch in Grapevine, chef Gabriel de Leon lends a whimsical touch to s’mores. His Mexican S’more features house-made graham crackers, vanilla marshmallows and chocolate peanut butter fudge, a nod to popular Mexican peanut candies like mazapan. Served with Abuelita chocolate ice cream and a smear of strawberry gel, it elevates the fireside favorite to a fork-and-plate dessert. It’s a tough treat to re-create at home, but you can improvise with some higher-end store-bought ingredients and still enjoy a big upgrade from the original Girl Scout recipe.

Read on for easy ways to bring a touch of modern Mexican cooking to sweets in your kitchen and for Mexican dessert recipes that could well become family classics.

Placemat:World Market. Kye R. Lee / Staff Photographer 

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