This is not technically a specifically Peruvian dessert, however you won’t find a pasteleria here in Lima without their version of chocolate cake. Also, you might have heard that cacao here is a big deal so, you know, it’s only fair to include the cake in my list of Peruvian desserts. Oh, and I love chocolate cake.
Are you, like me, one of those people that always has hope at any parties or weddings that you attend that the cake is going to be a chocolate one? Yeah, thought so.
Chocolate cake here in Peru comes in many forms. From a two or three layer dense and sticky cake to a one layer chocolate packed wonder. From a manjar blanco-y (that is a word btw), fudgy icing, to a simple chocolate ganache. And just about everything in between. Oh yes, everything. On the bad side, I’ve eaten chocolate cake that just tasted of cake….no chocolate, just cake. On the positive, some bakeries like to twist it up a notch adding truffles, liqueurs, and other fancy items, which do not often disappoint.
However, I have decided that for my recommendations I want to focus on the old favourite of chocolate cake + icing. Now in my search for said perfect cake, I have found that there were certain criteria.
Suspiro de Limeña (or Limeño, or without the ‘de’, or with ‘a la’ instead of ‘de’, etc …..) literally translates as ‘sigh of a Limeña’, (Limeña meaning a woman from Lima). I’m not sure where the name comes from but I think it’s quite beautiful and original!
The dessert is made up of two parts. The top is a soft meringue (think Italian meringue) flavoured delicately with port, and the bottom is a base of manjar blanco (a caramel made from milk and sugar) mixed with egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla.
It is a very sweet dessert. No joke.
I actually really, really love the soft, fluffy meringue that sits on the top. It is definitely my favourite part and I probably could just eat a bowl of that. Isn’t it amazing what egg whites become when they are whisked, with a little sugar, to within an inch of their lives!
The dessert in general is scrumptious, but I am super fussy with the particular ones that I will eat. Although, essentially, this dessert is made from milk, I do not much like the taste of it, and therefore do not like tasting milk in my desserts. In addition to this, a shortcut to make manjar blanco is to boil condensed milk until it becomes manjar, but the taste of condensed milk is a million times worse than regular milk. For me, a good manjar blanco shouldn’t taste like condensed milk, and therefore neither should any dessert with it in. Therefore, I am always super happy when I find a suspiro that fits the bill!
Here is a list of some of the best in the city that I have tasted so far, but I’m sure there are many more yet to be tested!
Where would I recommend in Lima to eat Suspiro de Limeña?
Some of you might say “That’s not a dessert”, or even “What the hell is lúcuma?”, but I assure you that this is the main ingredient in some of the tastiest desserts here in Peru. So, yes, technically not a dessert in itself, but a major player in the dessert arena, and I could not make a list of Peruvian desserts without it.
Lúcuma is a fruit native to Peru and I have not noticed it to be eaten commonly as a raw fruit. It has quite a burnt taste about it, but when mixed with ingredients for ice creams or mousses, it lends a caramel note to the dish, which is just beautiful. The colour is a deep yellowy-orange, not that far removed from an egg yolk or a sweet potato perhaps. Which is a coincidence because a sweet potato also gives a sweet, caramel flavour to dishes when cooked. When sliced in half, the lúcuma looks like an orange avocado, due to its green skin and large brown seed in the middle.
The fruit is most commonly used mixed with dairy ingredients to make ice cream, smoothies and mousses, and it also partners very well with chocolate.
Where would I recommend in Lima to eat a lúcuma dessert?