Manjar Blanco, the sweet milk, has a long history. Cervantes tells us that it was Sancho Panza’s favorite treat. It is mentioned in the Canterbury tales. This history of milk, or almond paste or rice and milk boiled down with sugar added has come down through ages, with the flavors of many cultures added.
The dessert descends not only with a long history, but with a title of “Royal Delicacy of Peru” according to the “New Dictionary of American Cuisine” written in 1868. It was known as “the yellow and white” until it was made by by Jose Gálvez’ wife and he “baptized” it “suspiro de limeña”. The poetry of the title finally matched the beauty of the dessert. The sigh of a woman, sweet and alluring.
Though beautiful this idea, you will find the dessert under three names, suspiro de limeña, suspiro limeño, and suspiro a la limeña. No matter the name it is the same dessert.
The meringue is smooth and luscious, the pudding underneath is decadent. It is no wonder many have loved this dessert. Corporations have tried to create the dessert and claim it as their own. Nestle has a version. Soprole of Chile also tried to make suspiro de limeña and market it.
In a way, I have also co-oped the dessert to my table in Utah. I have researched, and tried to identify the best techniques in different recipes, I have tried to create a suspiro that meets code and also includes fresh ingredients.
Cooks often use canned milks to create the delectable dessert base. To get the best manjar blanca, use fresh milk. (I used cream, for its greater intensity, but it must be cooked very slow and low or it will ‘break’ and the butter fat will escape leaving an unappetizing oily film on the top of the dessert.) Cook very slowly until the milk begins to turn thick. The recipe also calls for eggs, so it is not necessary to have the dulce too thick as the eggs with add in the thickening.
The meringue is best made with very fresh eggs. The whites whip up much thicker and higher. For the video, I used eggs bought in a local supermarket, but they were not as fresh as the ones I had gathered that morning from my chickens. I have made allowances for less fresh eggs by adding a couple of more egg whites to the meringue.
Egg whites whip up best at room temperature. If your eggs have come straight from the fridge, put them in warm water for about 10 min to take off the chill before you crack them.
Using Pisco instead of port was also a decision. I did find recipes that used Pisco, and I liked the idea. It seemed even ‘more Peruvian’ to use Pisco.
Suspiro a la limeña
2 cups heavy cream (40%)
1 cup sugar
(or one can sweetened condensed milk
And one can evaporated milk)
5 egg yolks
½ tsp almond extract
5 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
½ cup pisco (or port…or more water)
½ cup water
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ground Cinnamon (for sifting on top)
Add the milks to a heavy saucepan. Put on a slow burner – low heat. Let simmer (being careful not to break the cream). Separate egg yolks and place into a bowl. Whip them until they are lemon yellow. When the milk has begun to turn the slightest shade of caramel, remove it from the heat and add 1 cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks, slowly in a steady stream, while whisking rapidly (you don’t want scrambled eggs). Once fully mixed, add the eggs and milk back to the hot pan slowly again, all the while whisking rapidly. The mixture should thicken and form a smooth caramel. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and chill.
For the meringue, place the pisco and sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add water till there are no more visible sugar crystals in the bottom of the pan (there may be a few along the sides, you do not need to wash these down). While doing this, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar. Whip again, but do not over whip, until just before they are stiff. When the syrup reaches 230o-235o F will form a thread from the side of a spoon. While the mixture is still boiling, start mixing the egg whites. Add the syrup in a small steady stream.
Serve in small bowls or cups (about ¼ to ½ cup) topped with the meringue. Sprinkle with a fine bit of cinnamon on top.