Silky dulce de leche custard with Port meringue
Also known as suspiro limeño (“sigh of Lima”), this luscious delight is up there on the list of sweetest desserts I´ve ever tried. In fact, it is so sweet that I always accompany it with a huge glass of water to cut down its intensity. It also goes well with tea, or even a small glass of pisco (Peru´s national liquor made from distilled grapes.) But don´t get me wrong, I find this dessert exquisite and love to have itwhenever I’m presented with it (in small portions). If you give it a try, you won´t regret it. It´s quite an unforgettable treat for those with a sweet tooth!
In her book El Perú y sus Manjares, Un Crisol de Culturas, Jossie Sison de De La Guerra narrates the story of this sweet indulgence, crediting the poet Jose Galvez with its peculiar name. Apparently, this artist was a romantic even when it came to the food he ate, comparing this pudding to the soft and sweet sigh of a limeña (girl from Lima).
Suspiro limeño was probably inspired by manjar blanco, our version of the famous dulce de leche, which was at its peak of popularity during the Spanish colony. Its base of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and egg yolks, give a caramel colored cream as a result, which is culminated with Italian meringue perfumed with Port wine and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. It´s usually served in individual glasses, but can also be prepared in a larger container.
The number of recipes are endless, but we’ve tried this one many times and love it. It´s much easier to make than it looks, and the result is extremely pleasurable, especially when it comes to licking spatulas and bowls once you´re done with the preparation. But don’t get carried away by the fun; pastry making needs to be exact to assure the best results, so make sure you maintain a focused mind despite the sugar rush, and follow the steps thoroughly so you don´t come up with unexpected problems.
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup Port wine
- 2 tablespoons water
- Powdered cinnamon
- In a heavy saucepan cook the evaporated milk and the sweetened condensed milk over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns a pretty caramel color, or until you can see the bottom of the saucepan when you scratch the spoon against it (about 40 minutes). Take off the heat.
- *Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and use a wire beater to beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk mix and keep beating for a few seconds. Pour everything in the saucepan and mix carefully and reserve. This is what Peruvians call manjar blanco.
- *In another saucepan mix the sugar, Port wine and water. Make it boil over high heat for 6 minutes without stirring. The syrup is ready when it forms a caramel thread when dropped from a spoon, (see picture).
- *Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric beater at high speed until soft peaks form (when you lift one of the beaters and it has a soft cloud of meringue foam around it). For the whites to grow perfectly, they must have no trace of yolk, and the bowl must be dry and clean, without any grease spots.
- *Add the hot syrup in a thin and steady stream, beating vigorously until the resulting meringue is cold.
- *Pour the cooked milk mixture (manjar blanco) in individual cups or a larger container, cover with meringue in a decorative fashion (easier if you use a piping bag, but you can do it with a regular bag with a hole cut in one corner, or with a spoon), and dust with powdered cinnamon.
- *Serve at room temperature or keep in the fridge. Both ways are delicious.