With an irresistible layer of dulce de leche custard topped with a port spiked meringue, Suspiro de Limeña is one of the most beloved desserts in Lima, Peru. Tracing its origins to the reputable cook Amparo Ayarez from the early 19th century, this Peruvian parfait has earned its renown as a cultural favorite. Translated to mean "the sigh of a woman (from Lima)", it is believed that this special name was coined by Ayarez’s husband, the famous Peruvian poet and author José Gálvez. When asked what inspired the name, he reportedly replied "because it is soft and sweet like the sigh of a woman". If that statement doesn’t melt your heart, the delectably smooth richness of this dessert surely will.
This classic Peruvian dessert has a clear Spanish influence. The limelight of Suspiro de Limeña, Dulce de Leche, comes from a Spanish dish common in the Middle Ages known as Blancmange. It was a thick custard made from milk, sugar, almonds and flour. The concept of meringue also came to Peru via Spanish colonizers. Despite this Spanish influence, this mouth-watering parfait is distinctly Peruvian.
Add some ethnic flair to your cuisine and impress your friends by preparing these remarkable parfaits yourself. Although time-consuming, Suspiro de Limeña is relatively simple to make. The traditional recipe for dulce de leche uses only milk, sugar and egg yolks, but more modern versions of the dessert use evaporated and sweetened condensed canned milks. Suspiro de Limeña is sweet, creamy and unbelievably rich. It will spark an explosion of flavor and texture and elicit a sigh of pure pleasure.
The recipe below is found in our favorite Peruvian cookbook: The Art of Peruvian Cuisine by Tony Custer. This book is not only a gastronomical wonder abounding with authentic recipes, it is a feast for the eyes with a smorgasbord of beautiful photographs. Even though the book is no longer in print, we harbor a limited supply at our retail stores. If you are interested in snagging one of these foodie gems, please call our Customer Service department at (800) 221-8520 and an agent will be happy to assist you. I hope you feel as inspired to delve into the Peruvian culinary arts as I do!
-1 can evaporated milk (14 1 /2 oz)
-1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
-8 egg yolks
-1 cup port wine
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-4 eggs whites
-ground cinnamon for dusting
To prepare the caramel:
Combine the two milks in a heavy-based pan and simmer gently over low heat, stirring continually with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and the spoon leaves tracks across the bottom of the pan, about 1 hour.
Take off the heat and whisk in beaten egg yolks. Leave to cool and then pour into shallow dessert bowl or individual serving cups.
To prepare the syrup (for the meringue):
Combine sugar and port in a small pan and boil until syrup forms an unbroken thread when dropped from the spoon.
To prepare the meringue:
Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Continue beating, adding hot syrup in a slow steady stream.
Mound the meringue on top of the caramel mixture and dust lightly with ground cinnamon.