One of the things we have seen consistently throughout our journey so far, is the influence other countries have brought to bear on cuisine around the world; Uruguay is no exception. From the early 16th century, European influences in the form of the Portuguese, and then Spanish settlers, began to shape the cuisine of Uruguay. Later came French, Italian and German with their own methods and recipes. The European influence on this country is so great that in a 2011 census, over 87% of the population laid claim to European origins.
Meat dominates, especially beef which was introduced by the Spaniards, but other meats and fish are still used, as well as a variety of vegetables. For this week, I have decided to leave behind the starters and mains and go for a rich and tasty dessert. It takes a fair amount of work, especially if you don’t have an electric whisk, but the results are worth it.
What you need
*400gtin sliced peaches in juice
*55g caster sugar
*500 ml thickened cream
*1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
*2 x 20 cm sponge cakes
*225g dulce de leche, warmed slightly (caramelized, sweetened condensed milk)
For the Meringue
*110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
*1 tsp vanilla essence
For the sponge
*4eggs, at room temperature
*165g caster sugar
*60 ml milk
*110 g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
*30 g cornflour
The cake, without the meringues on top, will keep in the fridge for up to 3 hours. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
What to do
For the sponge.
*Preheat the oven to 170°C. Brush 2 x 20 cm shallow (sandwich) cake tins with some of the melted butter.
*Line the bases with baking paper; brush the paper with the remaining melted butter. Dust the bases and sides of the tins with a little flour.
*Using an electric whisk on medium, whisk the eggs until frothy.
*Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the mixture is very thick and pale (about 8 minutes).
*Draw a figure eight on the mixture, if it stays on the surface long enough for you to finish drawing, the mixture is ready.
*If not, whisk for a further minute and then test again.
*Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the butter melts. *Remove from the heat.
*Sift the flour and cornflour together over the egg mixture.
*Immediately pour the warm milk mixture down the side of the bowl and whisk again briefly, until the flour mixture is just incorporated (be careful not to overmix).
*Divide evenly between the cake tins and gently tap the tins on the worktop to settle.
*Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a pale golden colour, springs back when lightly touched in the centre, and starts to pull away from the sides of the tins.
*Remove from the oven and stand for 2 minutes before turning onto a wire rack, top-side up, to cool completely.
For the meringues,
*Preheat the oven to 110°C. Line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper.
*Warm the sugar in the oven for about 5 minutes.
*Place the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer and start to whisk.
*Add half the sugar and allow combining before adding the other half.
*Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and glossy and stands in peaks.
*Spoon into a large piping bag with a plain 1 cm nozzle.
*Pipe small ‘kisses’ about 2.5 cm in diameter and 2 cm apart on the lined tray.
*Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until the meringue is crisp and hard to touch, but not coloured.
*Allow to cool completely in the switched off oven with the door slightly ajar (about 1 hour).
*Drain the peach slices, reserving 100ml of the juice.
*Set the peach slices aside.
*Combine the reserved juice in a small saucepan with the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
*Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat.
*Use a mixer or balloon whisk and whisk the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
*Turn the sponge layers upside down and brush with half the peach syrup.
*Turn the sponges right way up and brush with the remaining syrup.
*Place one layer on a serving plate and spread with half the dulce de leche.
*Spread with one third of the whipped cream.
*Crumble over about 12 of the meringues and then top with the peach slices (reserving 6 for the top).
*Cover with the remaining sponge layer.
*Spread the top with the remaining dulce de leche and then spread the remaining cream over the top and sides.
*Decorate the top with the remaining meringues and peach slices.
I hope you enjoyed the forty-fifth of our eighty dishes from around the world. Please join me next time when we visit Paraguay.