Peruvian Desserts – Torta de Chocolate

dolce cakeThis 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.

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Peruvian Desserts – Pie de Limon

Lemon Meringue Pie closeAnd at last we arrive at the dessert namesake of this blog. Pie de Limon, or Lemon Meringue Pie, is a favourite in about a bazillion countries. (Bazillion = a lot x 1000….. approximately…..maybe).

Pie de Limon consists of 3 layers. A base made from crushed biscuits and butter, although pastry is used instead equally as much; a layer of a smooth, sweet, but tangy, lemon curd-y filling; and finally a fluffy meringue topping, usually toasted on top with a blowtorch perhaps or popped briefly in the oven.

I do have to point out briefly that in the UK, and other countries too, they make the pie with lemons (kind of obvious, no?), but here in Peru they make it with limon. Limon is a small citrus fruit with it’s closest comparison being a Key Lime. The taste is slightly different, but to be honest it’s not a giant leap away.

Pie de Limon is super tasty if you make it correctly and that means all 3 layers of equal tastiness. In my pie vision, for example, I hate a crispy meringue or a lemon layer that tastes too much of condensed milk. I’m not sure why condensed milk is often used as an ingredient here in Peru for this part of the pie, I’m pretty sure lemon curd does not include condensed milk. Actually I’m convinced it does not include condensed milk. Please stop this madness.

Also, I would always recommend having a slice cut from a larger pie as opposed to individual tartlets. The filling to base ratio is much better in a slice and you usually get a whole heap more of meringue. I’ve tried a few individual ones here in Lima and none have been as satisfying as a giant slice.

A good Pie de Limon is a happy thing.

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Peruvian Desserts – Turrón de Doña Pepa

turronTurrón is extremely popular here in Lima, and I guess throughout Peru too. There are different kinds of turrón (plain, chocolate…), but the one I am concentrating on is Turrón de Doña Pepa. Although this type of turrón is sold throughout the year, October is the month where you will see it the most. This is due to it being the celebratory sweet food for the procession of ‘Señor de los Milagros’ (the Lord of the Miracles) which takes place in October.

It was originally made by a lady as a thank you gift for the Lord of the Miracles during the annual processions she visited, and it has become a tradition ever since. (If you want to read more about the history of the Turrón de Doña Pepa, have a look at Peru Delights who explain more about it, and give you a recipe to make it yourself!)

Turrón de Doña Pepa is made up of sticks of pastry-style dough (normally about 3-layers deep), stuck together with a certain variety of honey or syrup, and sprinkled with brightly coloured hundreds and thousands, sprinkles and/or candy pieces. The amount of sprinkles used basically shout out ‘I am a party in a dessert’.

The pastry is flavoured with aniseed, and the honey is also flavoured, but this time with acidic fruits like orange and pineapple. The honey is syrupy and very sticky, but alongside an unsweetened pastry, they make the perfect combination. A very tasty sweet treat that can be eaten all the year round, not just in October!

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Peruvian Desserts – Tres Leches

tres leches

Tres Leches literally translates as three milks, and the milks that it refers to is condensed milk, evaporated milk and crema de leche. Don’t worry it’s not some kind of milky, flan-type panacotta monstrosity, the dessert is actually a light sponge cake soaked in the three milks and sometimes topped partly or completely with soft meringue. Now that sounds so much better, don’t you think?! Also, it normally comes served with all the excess sweet milky mixture, so no mouthful should ever be dry at all. This dessert is heavenly and very rich, especially if you like big fat slices like I do. Coming from the person least likely to drink/eat anything milk related, you know this cake must be awesome.

I LOVE LIMAWhere would I recommend in Lima to try it?

1. Maga…mis suspiros. It costs s/8.50 a slice and it’s so worth it (did I just sound like a shampoo advert?). It’s a good hearty slice, with an amazing flavour and comes topped with little dots of soft meringue (this is the one pictured above). Happy days! It’s probably good to share a slice like this but to be honest you could be selfish and polish this off all by yourself. This is a very popular place to come for tres leches, along with all of her other desserts on sale. It is a small shop but there are a few tables to sit in and eat, otherwise you can take away and enjoy in the comfort of your living room in your pyjamas.

Av. Benavides 1113, Miraflores (Between Paseo de la República and Republica de Panamá)

2. La Bodega de la Trattoría (started by Sandra Plevisani). I tried her Cinco Leches (Five Leches) at Mistura 2013 (Peru’s main food festival) for less than s/7 and I was incredibly lucky. Topped with a soft meringue and served with strawberries, this is some of the best ‘Tres’ Leches I have ever eaten, and don’t just take my word for it. According to El Comercio she sold 10,600 portions of this in just one day at Mistura last year! You can try it too but you will have to pay s/22 in her restaurant for the pleasure. (I have not tried it here but I can only assume it’s just as good!) Honestly, you will not regret paying the money for it once you eat it, but you will regret it if you leave without trying it!!

P.S. Do you want to know what the other ‘leches’ were that made this particular dessert up to a Cinco Leches? They were leche de coco (coconut milk) and manjar blanco (basically condensed milk boiled in the can).

The Cinco Leches is also available at her other restaurant La Trattoría di Mambrino.

Av. Primavera 712, Santiago de Surco. (there are 4 other locations for La Bodega de la Trattoría, so check the website for more details)

****ADDITION TO THE LIST (5/10/2014)!****

Tres Leches La Heladeria3. La Heladeria. Technically you do have to travel outside of Lima city to find this, but the beach town of Punta Hermosa is only about 25-30 minutes away and seeing as summer is approaching, you will be much more likely to find yourself heading out in this direction. This small cafe sells artesanal ice cream, desserts, juices and more, and obviously I have tried more than a couple of the desserts here. The Tres Leches at La Heladeria is sublime. Smooth, creamy and sweet. There is barely a taste of milk, which suits me perfectly, and it is finished with shavings of chocolate. This is absolutely one of the best Tres Leches I have eaten in Peru.

(The map on the Facebook page is not in the correct location and I cannot find the name of the street. Ask anyone in Playa Caballeros and they will be able to direct you to the location! Security guards are really helpful.)

Coming from ‘Playa Caballeros’ you take the road out from the beach called Av. Las Tres Bahias, go through the security gate and just to the left in front of you is La Heladeria, on the other side of the small roundabout.)