Yesterday, our Lima correspondent Anna Virkama de Cabrejos gave us an explanation of some classic Peruvian dishes that might go overlooked by travelers or those unfamiliar with Peruvian cuisine due to their odd names. Today, she’s talking dessert, giving us some insight into the sweeter side of Peruvian fare. From squash donuts to a dessert that might confuse some Texans, the sweet side of Peru’s national menu is just as delicious and tantalizing as the savory. See for yourself.
By Anna Virkama de Cabrejos
Here’s a look at ten Peruvian desserts with curious names and delicious flavors.
A popular dessert sold in parks and public gatherings, especially in religious feasts of October celebrating El Señor de los Milagros (The Lord of Miracles). The main ingredient of this pudding is maíz morado, Peruvian purple corn. It is also known as “combinado”, as it is often combined in layers with another typical dessert, arroz con leche (see below).
Arroz con Leche
This sweet rice pudding is a dessert that is common in many parts of South America. In Peru, it often comes in combination with Mazamorra morada, layered on top of it. You can also enjoy it alone. There are many variations to this basic recipe, so a wide variety of flavors is available.
Crocante de lucuma
Lucuma is a fruit that goes particularly well in desserts as it has a soft and sweet caramel taste. In crocante de lucuma, the fruit is baked into a crunchy, crumble-like pie. Lucuma is also used for cheesecakes, ice creams, pralines, pies and puddings.
These doughnut-like deep-fried pastries soaked in sticky chancaca molasses are often sold in parks and events, or served as a dessert in anticuchos (grilled meat skewers) restaurants. Instead of flour, the main ingredient of picarones is squash or sweet potato.
Turron de Doña Pepa
Like Mazamorra Morado, this sweet pastry is also typically consumed in October, when celebrating the Lord of Miracles. The story has it that an Afro-Peruvian lady known as Doña Pepa was healed by the Lord of Miracles. Grateful for this miracle, she decided to come every October to Lima to sell her turrones. They are made of anise-flavored cookies layered and glued together with chancaca molasses and topped with colorful candy sprinkles.
Terremoto de Chirimoya
Apart from lucuma, cherimoya (also spelled chirimoya) is another sweet Andean fruit that goes extremely well in desserts. In terremoto (literally, “earthquake”), the chirimoya fruit is mixed with cream and topped with meringue. Try chirimoya also in cheesecakes, soufflés, crumbles and ice creams.
“Whisper” is one of the most common Peruvian desserts and you can find it everywhere from fancy restaurants to street vendors’ stands. It is made of manjar blanco (milk caramel spread), egg yolks and milk, flavored with vanilla and covered with a meringue layer.
Although the name translates as “cheese ice-cream”, this dessert does not have cheese in it. It is made with milk, coconut and cinnamon, and it is a typical dessert in Arequipa. Why the name? Cut into square pieces, this ice cream looks like cheese on your plate.
If someone stops you on the street to sell old-fashioned looking sweets wrapped in white paper, chances are you’re being offered tejas -sweet confections from tbe Ica region of Peru. They are either covered with white fondant or with chocolate, in which case they are called chocotejas. They are filled with manjar blanco caramel spread and various other ingredients including: peanuts, prunes, pecans, etc.
Although this dessert is not uniquely Peruvian -one can find it in Spain and many other parts of Latin America -it is one of the most popular desserts in Peru. Delicious pastry or cake made with spongy cake is moistened with three types of milk: heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk. The texture is very similar to an Italian tiramisu . Variations on the dessert include chocolate and vanilla versions, as well as layered with fruit, and so on.