Arequipa is the birthplace of this lovely artisanal ice-cream. I read in one of my favorite cookbooks –La Memoria del Sabor– that many years ago, queso helado was made with almonds, but later on cooks changed to coconut -or coquitos chilenos, and because of how cheap and delicious this dessert was, it became extremely popular. Traditionally, queso helado was sold by street vendors in the form of shaved ice, but anyone can make it at home, or find it on the menu of many Peruvian restaurants.
In Lima I like to have this dessert at El Rocoto restaurant, whose chef, Blanca Chavez, is a talented Arequipeña. This recipe is from her beautiful cookbook, Entre Hornos y Rocotos, which displays an enormous list of recipes from her beloved Arequipa.
What does queso helado mean? In English, it’s something like frozen cheese, but it has zero resemblance to any cheese. In fact, it´s more likely to be confused with a semifreddo, although it’s not as rich, because it doesn´t have any cream in the preparation, just three types of milk: fresh, unsweetened evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
If you have the time, start the preparation in the evening, and the dessert will be perfect for lunch the following day. Serve it cut in squares, or in scoops, with a cookie or topped with gooseberries or any other fruit, and a dash of cinnamon. Your tastebuds will be not only pleased, but also refreshed, especially as it starts getting warmer and sunnier. Welcome Spring!
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cloves
- 1 cup sugar
- 50 grs. dried coconut, grated
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 can unsweetened evaporated milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Powdered cinnamon
- In a heavy saucepan, over high heat, bring the milk to a boil with the cinnamon sticks, cloves, coconut and sugar.
- Drain and discard the spices, add vanilla, and cornstarch previously dissolved in a little water. Cool.
- In the blender process egg yolks with unsweetened evaporated milk.
- Add to the cool milk and mix with the sweetened condensed milk. Stir.
- Pour in a metal tin and put in the freezer for several hours until frozen. Cut in squares or serve with a scoop.
- Sprinkle with powdered cinnamon and serve.