One Sweet Day in Barcelona

With less than 24 hours in Barcelona and a list of upwards of 20 sweet addresses (not to mention another list for savory), I clearly needed a plan.  Luckily, Barcelona’s shop hours couldn’t be any more opposite than those in Zürich.  I was photographing (and tasting) desserts at one pastry shop until they closed… at midnight !  And when I left, I went for gelato.

And gelato galore there was. This city is not for the indecisive.  With an abundance of Italian style gelaterias seemingly at every corner, which one to go to is only the beginning.  Then there’s the actual selection of flavors, often from several display cases of smoothly molded mountains of gelato.  I say, why choose just one ?  Which was also my approach to chocolate bars. And meringues.  And breakfasts.

Without further ado, my three favorite discoveries from one very sweet day in Barcelona, hopefully only one of many more to come…

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When I announced I was heading to Barcelona, the social media world replied, “churros con chocolate !”  And churros con chocolate we had.  Simply strolling the streets after breakfast at the famous Boqueria market (nothing wrong with calamari à la plancha before 9am, right ?!), the fantastic and tempting painting above (top left) caught our eyes.  Taking fun pictures in front of it with our baby girl sparked a lively discussion with a local, who passionately told us we just had to have churros con chocolate there. There being Granja la Pallaresa, which was unfortunately closed for the summer.  So she directed us around the block to Granja Dulcinea, one of the oldest and most traditional xocolaterias in the city, serving of course… Xurros amb Xocolata.  A dark, rich cup of hot chocolate was accompanied by a plate of crispy fried dough to dunk or eat on their own.  Either way, quite irresistible.

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Even with all that gelato, turron, chocolate and churros, my favorite sweet was actually… a meringue !  Merenga de Xocolata, de Café and de Maduixa (strawberry) called out to me from the window of La Colmena, Spain’s oldest handmade candy shop. Hard candies (don’t be misled by the name “caramels”) individually wrapped in white papers, came in such flavors as pomegranate, redcurrant, mint, honey, eucalyptus, pineapple, coffee and marshmallow (the latter referring to the root, not the jet-puffed variety).  There were also chocolate bars in wrappers with beautiful artwork, assorted chocolates, pâtes de fruit, pastries and bolados (above, top left), neon blocks of sugar to mix with water for an eye-catching (and ultra sweet) drink.

Back to that meringue… An extraordinary confection, of apparently nothing more than egg whites and sugar as is usually the case, but with a texture I had never tasted before.  A tall meringue sitting atop a cake paper, served with a little plastic spoon.  A spoon ?!  Meringues in Switzerland crumble to dust when you bite them; oversized ones in the windows of French boulangeries have hard shells and can even be chewy in the center, my ideal texture.  But a meringue you eat with a spoon ?  This I had never seen.  I had my Spanish translator (husband) ask numerous times if there was some sort of filling.  No.  I had him ask again.  No.  I’ll admit, I doubted his Spanish skills at this point (lo siento, chéri).  But after my first bite, when I saw the soft, mousse-like interior, reminiscent of a meringue or marshmallow *before* baking, I understood.  Wow.  So much wow that we went back the next morning to try the other flavors before leaving town.  Super soft, yet somehow holding its shape, it had the lightest crisp exterior, almost as if it were rolled in baked meringue crumbs.  It was extraordinary.  Anyone familiar with this style of Spanish merenga ?

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Last of the sweet trio is none other than Bubó, high on many foodies’ lists in Barcelona, and with good reason.  Wildly creative and talented Catalan pastry chef Carles Mampel has been receiving rave reviews for his confections, pastries and chocolates (including a chocolate called “pá amb tomàquet”) since 2005.  Chocolate lollipops, brightly colored macarons and marshmallows (below, top right), stunning pastries and cans of cookies, including Diamant, chocolate sablés with fleur de sel, reminiscent of Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookie, will all tempt you.

As you can see by the goodies I schlepped back to Zürich below (bottom right), I may have given in to those temptations.  My only regret is not getting more.

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What are your three favorite sweets or sweet addresses in Barcelona ? 

Kerrin’s Sweet Barcelona Address Book:

Bubó
www.bubo.es

Cacao Sampaka
www.cacaosampaka.com

Demasié
www.demasie.es

Enric Rovira
www.enricrovira.com

EspaiSucre
www.espaisucre.com

Farga
www.fargachocolates.com

Gocce di Latte
Gelateria artigianale (my favorite flavor: date with cardamom and orange)

Granja Dulcinea
www.granjadulcinea.com

Granja La Pallaresa

Granja M. Viader
www.granjaviader.cat

Horchateria Turroneria Sirvent
www.turronessirvent.com

La Colmena
www.lacolmenabarcelona.blogspot.ch

Oriol Balaguer
www.oriolbalaguer.com

Papabubble
www.papabubble.com

Pasteleria Escriba
www.escriba.es

Pastisseria Canal
www.canal.es

Planelles Donat
www.planellesdonat.com

Vioko
www.vioko.es

19 Responses to “One Sweet Day in Barcelona”

  1. Rosa says:

    What wonderful treats! Those meringues look mindblowing. I’ve never seen anything like that before…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Jamie says:

    Oh. Now I definitely have to get to Barcelona! Museums? What museums? Who’d he be kidding! Fabulous address book!

  3. KugelDad says:

    Awesome post! Great pictures, and that typical KugelKerrin humor. But meringue with a spoon? Who’d a thunk?

  4. Edie says:

    Nice timing !!!!!
    ALL of these tasty looking places are in my address book for our visit to Barcelona…(do you think these 15 sweet addresses will be too many for just 4 days??) Nope!!
    Have to try that meringue…yum!! And those churros!
    Thank you..thank you….thank you!!!!!!!!

  5. Marianne says:

    Now I have to go back to Barcelona with your list in hand! As with all your other travel suggestions, these addresses will be kept for when we do visit Barcelona again. What a wonderful writer you are; have a great summer!

  6. Amanda says:

    Hi Kerrin! I love Barcelona, but I am a bit ashamed to say that even after a few visits, I’ve never tried churros con chocolate. Orxata and Granissat de Llimona, yes, but no churros. I really feel like I missed out!

  7. Kerrin says:

    Rosa, mindblowing indeed ! They really were outstanding.

    Jamie, Barcelona has museums ??

    KugelDad, who’d a thunk – exactly ! That was one of the last things that really tempted me, as I just assumed they’d be like other meringues I’ve had. How wrong I was to think, then how lucky I was to try…

    Edie, 4 days ?! Too easy. I need to give you more addresses. (And will !) Such perfect timing, yay !

    Marianne, thank you for your *sweet* words, much appreciated. And hope you’ll visit Barcelona again soon so you can enjoy all these goodies too ! Enjoy the summer !

    Amanda, no way, you crazy girl ! ;-) All that Spanish cheese was clearly distracting you, haha. Well, you’ll simply have to take your two handsome men there to try churros con chocolate together ! {sending big hugs to your trio from mine !!}

  8. Kerrin says:

    Edie, ps. 18 ;-) List is updated… and now alphabetical !

  9. Ilana says:

    I love reading about your adventures! Can’t wait to hear about baby Chloe’s favorites once she starts eating “real” food!!!

  10. Sara@MilwaukeeKitchen says:

    This all looks amazing! I was in Barcelona in 2012, but didn’t focus on these treats enough! Thank you for the handy reference for a return trip! Sara

  11. Nikki says:

    Kerrin, your blog is a joy to read, particularly for someone whose insatiable sweet tooth is as fierce as yours.

    Do you still conduct sweet tours of Zurich? When is the next one? An ex-New Yorker, I will move to Zurich in early August, after thirteen years in Paris and two in Barcelona. Your recommendations in both Paris and Barcelona are spot on. An in-depth introduction to the sweeter side of Zurich is at the very top of my list, since I know I will go through serious withdrawal after saying au revoir to the wonderful patisseries in Paris.

  12. Kerrin says:

    Thanks, ilana ! :)) And oh my, just wait, this little girl will be eating quite well … and she’ll certainly have plenty of sugar and chocolate coming her way. So going to try to hold that off as long as possible… ;-)

    Sara, perfect reason to go back ! And you are most welcome !

    Nikki, someone whose insatiable sweet tooth is as fierce as mine…?! Love it. I appreciate the *sweet* words – and from a fellow New Yorker ! :) Yes, I most certainly do still lead Sweet Zürich tours, and would be more than happy to help with the transition from Paris pastry to Swiss chocolate. Feel free to drop me an email when you get a chance so we can discuss: kerrin [at] mykugelhopf [dot] ch. Thanks again and looking forward to hearing from you soon. Oh, and welcome to Switzerland ! :)

  13. Lizzy (Good Things) says:

    So much deliciousness! Love your adventures!

  14. El says:

    Lovely post. Really interesting meringue. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Hope you’re having a fun summer!

  15. Foodsworth says:

    Looks great! I really shouldn’t be reading this on my juice cleanse!

  16. Kerrin says:

    Lizzy, thanks !

    El, having a wonderful summer, thanks so much. Hope the same goes for you. And I know, those meringues… amazing, right ?!

    Foodsworth, haha, perhaps not the best idea. Good luck with the cleanse – hope you’re near the end ! :)

  17. valentina says:

    Kerrin, you just have a way with words and you describe food with such ease. I’ve never seen meringues as the ones you described. Well, I’m not a big fan of meringues but got very curious by this one that you eat with a spoon. I’ve read a lot about the quality of chocolate in Barcelona. I’m still to make a trip there just to visit a few of those places. I do like Barcelona a lot. It’s a place where I would easily live in – it’s got such great vibe.

  18. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great tips!
    We very spontaneously booked a trip to Barcelona in November and I gladly remembered your blogpost for some sweet treats!
    Went to Bubo and bought some presents for friends and Macadamia nuts covered in white chocolate for us (WELL, I WISH I had bought more than just one tin!)
    We also made two trips to La colmena, went twice for the merenga and also bought quit a lot of caramels. (A great spot for brunch was quit near la colmena so it was very convenient to go twice ;-) )

  19. hanne says:

    Hello Kerrin
    I too have been to Barcelona and tried these meringues. Have you ever found a recipe for them. My daughter and I would love to re-create these and have NEVER found a recipe or information about them except pictures from the shop.

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