Just four ingredients that you may already have at home make for one of the tastiest treats in the Mexican pan dulce repertoire: campechanas.
Not all panaderías in Mexico have campechanas though. And not all the panaderías that do carry them have fabulous campechanas. In fact, I have found that campechanas sold on the streets tend to be the very best ones.
Campechanas are one of the things I look for the moment I touch Valle de Bravo, a small town about a 2-hour drive from Mexico City. I grew up vacationing there with my family, and I still go as often as I can. It is a town whose campechanas are of the finest sort. Very puffy and dry with the perfectly crisp caramelized top, they are sold in thin plastic bags by the dozen in so many street corners.
It is practically impossible to keep them whole once you hold one up, or even as you try to take one out of the bag. The moment you take a bite, forget about it: it has crumbled all over the place into pieces that make for delirious bites. Once you have one, you can’t stop until there are no more.
When we visit Valle de Bravo, aside from eating them right there on the spot, I always bring extra back home. I place them all in a platter and start by breaking one and passing the plate around. A minute later, someone else broke the next one… and then another and another. A few minutes later, they are all gone. I laugh just remembering how we pass that plate around. My father-in-law, I think, is the one who can’t resist them the most.
Although it is called campechana, as if from the state of Campeche, as far as I have researched, that is not where its name comes from. Though pan dulce in this style can be found throughout the entire Yucatán Peninsula, which includes the state of Campeche… Ironically, they don’t seem to go by that name there.
This is how easy it is to make them: thaw puff pastry, roll it out, sprinkle it generously with sugar, and roll it again for the sugar to settle into the dough. Bake on a buttered baking sheet until they puff up and then raise the heat to caramelize the sugar. In less than 15 minutes, you are done.
My only warning is: watch out for the sugar not to burn. It’s not too much to ask with as simple a recipe as this one…no?
p.s. You can buy your frozen puff pastry in just about any super market. They are typically of phenomenal quality. If you insist on making your own puff, see how by clicking here.
Crisp Caramelized Puff
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- 1 pound puff pastry store bought or homemade
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- unsalted butter for greasing baking sheets
- all-purpose flour to dust countertop and rolling pin
- If using frozen puff pastry, thaw for 20 to 30 minutes before rolling it out.
- When ready to roll out, preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter two baking sheets.
- Flour your counter, as well as the rolling pin. Roll out both puff pastry sheets gently to about 9- or 10-inches by 11-inches. Cover them entirely with the sugar, as evenly as you can. Then, roll again with the rolling pin, with the purpose of not making the sheets larger or bigger but setting the sugar in the puff pastry.
- Cut the sheets into rectangles of about 3- by 5-inches with a knife. You should have 12 chubby rectangles.
- Place the campechanas on the baking sheets. Position rack in the upper third of the oven. One batch at a time, bake for 7 to 8 minutes at 400°F, then raise the oven temperature to 500°F and bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Just until all sugar has melted and caramelized. Don’t let any extra minutes go by, or the caramel will burn and turn bitter.
- Repeat with the other batch. Once cooled completely, cover so they will stay crisp.
❤️ Reminds me of when we would visit my grandma in Nuevo Laredo and go to the corner panadería, Campechanas were her favorite~ con café de olla ☕
Can’t wait to make THESE!! Thank You for the recipe Patti
May pleasure Jaqui, enjoy them!
Bought some in south Texas at a restaurant and they are so delicious.
Agree, my favorites!
Growing up in Midwest City, Oklahoma, my family used to dine at a Mexican restaurant which served sopapillas before the meal. The waiter would bring a basket of the warm, puffed triangles. We’d tear off a corner of the sopapilla and pour honey inside. Now that I reside in Los Angeles, I rarely if ever come across this tasty appetizer. Have you in all your wanderings come across them?
Yes yummy! I would say sopapillas are very similar to campechanas but fried instead of baked 😉
Many restaurants in Santa Fe, NM serve them! Now I’m addicted…hehe
Try making the real campechanas. Campechanas are not that hard to make…they’re quite fun to make….and they’re cheaper to make from scratch.
Of course, thank you 😉
Yum! I made these today, using your puff pastry recipe. They were delicious, even though I took them out of the oven a bit early because the buttered baking sheet was smoking just enough to set off my over sensitive smoke detector. Would using parchment paper solve that problem? Regardless, I’ll be making them again. So good!! Thanks for another superb recipe!
That is a good idea, Laura. You can also try opening your windows a bit…
Try using clarified butter it has a higher smoke point…
These look amazing. I can’t wait to try them ?
Pati, you posted this recipe for me a year ago. I’ve made them several times & I love them. So simple & yummy! Sometimes I use cinnamon sugar & tgats yummy, too! I just wanted to let you know, I’m so excited. I just reserved a spot for me & my daughter (Violet, age 5, who adores you) for your book signing in Chicago in April! We look forward to seeing you. 🙂 Lisa
Thank you so much for the recipe….I have a quick question. I’ve tasted some campechanas that have a very thin layer of strawberry jam……do you know at what step I could incorporate that?
I have not tried them with jam…. If you were to incorporate any filling, it would be before putting them in the oven.
In Michoacan they call it hojarascas and they are pretty delicious!
I just made these and tried one for the first time. Delicious! I’m glad you mentioned that they break apart because I would surely have thought something was wrong.
Oh they come apart in a thousand pieces!
Love the idea of this easy treat. When could I add cinnamon? After they’re done so the cinnamon doesn’t burn during cooking?
Hola Pati oh my goodness I absolutely love campechanas and now I can make them at home ..thank you so much for sharing your recipe ..I love watching your show and I purchased 2 cookbooks one for me and one for my daughter in college she loves your food and now she can cook something delicious every single day . We are so excited to start preparing your delicious recipes . Thank you Pati for making cooking so easy and tasty. I grew up watching my Mexican mom cook but I feel your recipes are so close to my heart just like my moms cooking . God bless you and your family .
Hola Blanca, I hope you do make some campechanas at home! One of my all time favorites, too!! Thank you so much for getting my cookbook & for getting it for your daughter, too!
me encantan tus platillos! I have made many of your dishes. just love them
Oh, you are making my day!
me encantan tys platillos, thank you.
Love this recipe thank you for sharing it. It does look so very easy to make. I do have one question. Is is possible to make it phyllo dough?
Hi Alexis, Yes, you may try it with phyllo dough.
They look really easy to prepare. I think I’ll try them.
How to make chocoflan. Easy
Hi Gloria, Are you looking for my chocoflan recipe? http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/2012/11/impossible_chocoflan/
Thanks Pati I can’t believe these Capechanas are so easy.
They are super easy! I hope you try them!
Gracias por la receta por las campechanas! I had no idea it would be so easy! I can’t wait to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes! Gracias, Pati!
Hi Lisa, So happy you are going to try them! Let me know what you think…
Omg they are so simple and no you can’t just eat one lol I love your site and I’ve enjoyed you all
Morning on my create TV show keep up the awesome work
PS my husband loves to watch you with me and your family is adorable !!!
Thank you so much for trying my recipe, Teresa! And thank you for watching…your husband, too!!