The sweetness of a dessert gives us a moment of happiness and makes life feel better. It reminds us of our childhood: the fabulous summer when we chased down the ice cream man for something cold and sweet to refresh our bodies and to laugh while slowly licking the bars with our friends; Sunday afternoons we would go to a pastry shop with all our family anxiously waiting for the pleasant waiter to ask him for our favorite dessert and enjoy its taste. It is such a beautiful sensation to hear the word dessert because our mind fills with great memories and we just naturally smile.
Today I want to write about a dessert that is so soft and so sweet like the sigh of a woman, delicate and refined at the same time. The very popular “suspiro a la limeña” or the Lima-style sigh (and at the same time a sigh after the manner of Lima’s women) is the emblematic dessert of Peruvian cuisine. It has ruled in the best gastronomical festivals of Peru and has enchanted the best pastry chefs of the world leading to its being featured in many South American and European countries.
Like all desserts it was created by an industrious woman, queen of her home. They say it was Amparo Ayarez, the wife of a famous Peruvian writer and poet named José Galvez. She was the creator of the incredible dessert. With just blancmange, egg yolks, an meingue she acheived a magical creation. But this dessert is not native to Peru since it uses Euopean products and techniques like the blancmange and the meringue.
The creaminess of the blancmange with the intense flavor given by the egg yolks an the contrast with the meringue with its light sweetness give a balance to the levels of sugar and do not tend to make it sickeningly sweet like too many desserts. This dessert is so popular that new flavos have been made based ont he original recipe, such as the suspiro a la limeña with lúcuma or with any other pulp of creay fruit. Other knowledgeable cooks have applied other sophisticated techniques and have created a vaiation in the meringue, adding to it a syrup made from a port wine reduction creating in this way and even better balance than the original recipe and then dusting is with cinnamon to give an aromatic scent thereby giving it the subtle touch that all Lima-style desserts carry.
Many books allude to this dessert as the best dessert in Lima, even though for me all Peruvian desserts have personality and in each of them you can discover incredible things in their textures, flavors, and scents.
Suspiro ala limeña
¼ cup port
3 egg whites
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 cinnamon stick
5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
Place the two milks in a pan with the cinnamon stick and heat, stirring constantly until it thickens to form what in Peru we call “manjar blanco”, blancmange in English. Let cool until it is just warm and then add the beaten egg yolks with the vanilla. Mix well and let cool. Place in a mold or individual cups.
Make a syrup by heating a cup of sugar with the port wine until it reaches the thread stage. Beat the egg whites until stiff and little by little add the syrup just as one would in making an Italian meringue. Continue beating it until it is completely cooled.
Top the cups, or the desert mold with the meringue and dust them with the ground cinnamon.
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