What is suspiro limeño?
Suspiro limeño, suspiro de limeña or suspiro a la limeña is a traditional Peruvian dessert whose name can be translated to “sigh of Lima”.
The recipe’s slow cooking process results in a golden, silky smooth caramel-like custard base, which is then crowned with a light and creamy liqueur meringue.
Suspiro limeño should not be confused with suspiros, which are meringues, popular in Portugal as well as some Latin American countries.
What is the origin of suspiro limeño?
The origins of the dessert date to the middle of the nineteenth century in Lima. It is the wife of Peruvian poet Jose Galvez, Amparo Ayarza, who created the recipe. Galvez gave the dessert this peculiar name because it is sweet and light “like a woman’s sigh”.
The first known record regarding the development of the recipe though, appeared in the New Dictionary of American Cuisine, published in 1818, where this dessert was named “manjar real del Peru” (royal delight of Peru).
Suspiro limeño is based on manjar blanco, the Peruvian name for what is mostly known as dulce de leche elsewhere in South America. An ingredient that Vera told us about this week in her post about chocotejas. Manjar blanco comes from blancmange, a European dish from the Middle Ages that was brought to South America by the Spaniards and that Vera discussed in her article about the more modern version from the French West Indies.
Even though manjar blanco can be used as spread much like jelly or jam, it is also often used as a filling for Latin American desserts such as alfajores or tejas.
The other element of suspiro limeño is meringue, which was also brought to Peru by the Spaniards. The meringue top layer, similar to the one that is made for lemon meringue tart, is made from egg whites but also port wine before being sprinkled with cinnamon.
I presented my suspiro limeño in a champagne coupe glass, but you can also use a martini glass for a fancy presentation. The dessert is indeed very sweet so I recommend you have a glass of water handy. It is nonetheless delicious and quite original.
I will definitely make it again soon!
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup Port wine
- Ground cinnamon
In a heavy saucepan, cook the evaporated milk, the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla extract over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns to a caramel color, for about 40 minutes. Take off the heat.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add a couple tablespoons of the hot milk mix and keep beating for a few seconds. Pour everything in the saucepan. Mix carefully and reserve.
In another saucepan, mix the sugar and Port wine. Boil over high heat for 6 minutes without stirring. The syrup is ready when it forms a caramel thread when dropped from a spoon.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form.
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. Cover with meringue in a decorative fashion by using a piping bag and a decorative tip.
Dust with ground cinnamon.
Serve cold or at room temperature.