Sweets from “El Portal de los Dulces” in Cartagena


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El Portal de los Dulces, Cartagena

They look very relaxed. This is the atmosphere in Cartagena. Locals come and go, catch a shade and get a relief from Cartagena’s usual year-round 90 degree weather. While there, they may grab a sweet to eat. This picture shows the cobbles or “adoquines” from the Colonial times. Cartagena’s old city streets are closed to vehicles. It’s quite charming. After walking for the first two blocks, you realize it makes sense!

Each arch in “El Portal de los Dulces” has a sweets station and each one is independently owned. Some owners are young and others not so much. Some are 70, 80 and even 90! Here you can check out the owners simply relaxing on their plastic colored chairs. If you stick around long enough, they may share a story or two about their own lives too! Fun!

This place brings wonderful memories of my parents and my siblings. Back in the 60’s and 70’s horse-drawn carriages would take pedestrians from the “Portal de Los Dulces” square to the movie theaters located across a boulevard called “Camellon de Los Martires.” Today the movie theaters are gone, only abandoned buildings remain. Movie theaters are now in fancy malls in various places around Cartagena. Horse-drawn carriages are still there though.. They can take you for a ride inside or outside the walled city. They can take you for a ride at sunset and you may enjoy this view..

cgena sunset

This is the outside of the “El Portal de Los Dulces”, called “Puerta del Reloj” (The Clock Door.)

Torre del Reloj, Cartagena

If the “Cochero” (horse carriage rider) happens to take you around the old Historic town at night, then he may point out the many beautifully illuminated church towers. In the old city you will find a Catholic Church every two blocks.

San Pedro Claver Church, Cartagena

If it is by day, then he’ll point out the beautiful balconies.

Balconies in Cartagena
Balconies in Cartagena

Often I want to make my favorite sweet from “El Portal de Los Dulces” at home. They sell home-made “Dulce de leche”,  “Cocadas de Ajonjoli y Anis” (sesame and anise seeds brittle), Cocadas de Ajonjoli (Sesame seed brittle), “Dulce de Guayaba” (Guava Candy), “Dulce de Coco” (Coconut brittle), and more.  

So here it is: Sesame seeds Brittle.


Ingredients:  1 Cup raw sesame seeds, 1/4 cup honey, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp baking soda, a pinch of salt. For this recipe you can optionally add 1/2 cup sesame seeds and 1/2 cup anise seeds.

1. Add the sugar to a pan on medium


2. Add honey, salt, nutmeg and water. Mix.



3. Add Sesame seeds.


4. Mix and let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan and add vanilla and butter.



5. Mix. Add baking soda.


6. Mix well and pour over a pan covered with lining paper.


7. Let the mix cool completely. It will harden and then you can cut out the Sesame Seed Brittle pieces.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. I really miss Colombia… Maybe this recipe will bring me back to the days I spent in Cartagena !


    1. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. 🙂


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