The Peruvian Caramel Dessert That Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Winchester Hospital notes that scientists now believe that the tongue map taught in school that shows where we pick up sweet flavors isn't accurate; we can actually detect sweetness anywhere on our tongues. And, while Statistareports Europeans and Russians having the sweetest tooth of all, it's no secret that most humans love the taste of sugar.
As it happens, Brazil tops the charts in sugar production, alongside other South American countries, such as Peru, per NationMaster. This may explain why Peruvians have serious game when it comes to desserts, many of which feature manjar blanco.
This milky caramel goodness is something you may know as dulce de leche, cajeta, or arequipe, explains BBC. (On a side note, Serious Eats warns of asking for cajeta while in Argentina, as that colloquial reference is ... well, let's just say not for virginal ears.) But, if a caramel by any other name should taste as sweet, diehards like those at Lima Easy vow that manjar blanco differs. Wherever you land on its name, it's the very foundation upon which a Peruvian sweet legend was built — Suspiro a la limeña.
If food is your love language, you can relate to the story of how Suspiro a la limeña got its name. Dating to the 19th century, Peruvian poet José Gálvez Barrenechea found inspiration in a decadent dish first concocted by his wife, Amparo Ayarez. A bit of a romantic, he waxed poetically of her masterpiece as "a soft and sweet sigh of a woman," according to Peru Travel. The tourism site notes that most of the ingredients Ayarez used for the dessert arrived on the South American continent by way of Spain during the colonial period. Among these components were blancmange (the precursor to manjar blanco) and meringue.
Undoubtedly a favorite, Suspiro a la limeña requires a few steps. The basic method of making this classic starts with manjar blanco, followed by a heaping mound of meringue with port wine and cinnamon, according to Serious Eats. Served in a small glass, Suspiro a la limeña can be further enhanced with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon as a garnish.
So, next time you're inclined to practically purr while indulging your sweet tooth, channel your inner Barrenechea and consider Suspiro a la limeña the perfect muse.