This recipe is my tribute to a Peruvian favourite dessert, Suspiro de limeña - now in tart form! A silky smooth custard filling topped with port meringue, all in a quick and easy cookie crumb crust.
What is Suspiro de limeña?
Suspiro de limeña (also referred to as suspiro a la limeña) is a classic Peruvian dessert. The name translates to 'sigh of the lady of Lima' referencing the pudding's origin in Lima in the 19th century.
The dish is essentially comprised a dulce de leche like custard known as manjar blanco and a meringue top.
Manjar blanco is a Spanish term used for certain milk-based desserts. Manjar is technically different from dulce de leche, however, the sweet milk flavour is quite similar. In English, manjar blanco translates to blancmange.
Creating Suspiro de limeña tart
When my husband and I visited Peru a few years ago, we took a cooking class offered by SkyKitchen Peru. It was one of the highlights of our trip! We learned a few recipes, which we now make often and we love to host 'Peru Day' - basically our own gastronomical celebration of Peru.
While reading about Peruvian desserts for one of our Peru days, I came across suspiro de limeña and fell in love. After a few experiences making a version from Curious Cuisiniere, I realised how perfect the flavours and textures would be as a chilled pie.
There are three parts to this tart:
1. Easy Lotus Biscoff Biscuit Base
The cookie crumb crust is three simply ingredients:
- Crushed Lotus Biscoff Cookies - you could also use other biscuits such as digestives or graham cracker crumbs. Due to the flavours in the recipe, the spice to Lotus Biscoff biscuits is the best to complement the suspiro de limeña filling.
- Sugar - caster sugar (or superfine granulated) will help the crust to hold it's shape more stably.
- Butter - unsalted and melted.
For tips and a full how to see my Biscoff crust recipe here.
2. Manjar Blanco Custard Filling
For the manjar blanco, you will need:
- Evaporated milk - one standard sized can (12oz/350g). In the UK, the evaporated milk generally comes in slightly larger cans (14oz/410g) - you can still use the whole can, but you may find that the mixture takes a little longer to cook and results in a slightly lighter colour mix. It shouldn't effect it setting solid enough to slice the tart.
- Condensed milk - one standard sized can (14oz/396g).
- Eggs - for the manjar blanco, you only need the yolks, but reserve the whites for the meringue topping.
- Vanilla extract - this is technically optional in suspiro de limeña, but I would always recommend a touch of vanilla for accentuating the sweet milk flavours.
3. Port Meringue Topping
The port meringue has three ingredients:
- Port - use good quality port in the recipe. This will be brought to a boil, so be assured the alcohol content will cook off.
- Egg whites - the whites reserved from the manjar blanco.
- Sugar - caster sugar or superfine granulated.
Manjar Blanco Process
In order to make the manjar blanco, the process is very straightforward. Begin by placing your egg yolks in a bowl and setting these aside.
Then, simply pour the cans of condensed and evaporated milk into a large, deep sided saucepan and begin cooking over a medium heat.
Stir this occasionally to ensure it isn't sticking to the bottom and bring to a boil. Once it begins boiling, stir constantly as it can easily start to burn to the bottom of the pan. Boil for about 5 minutes - the milks should start to darken a bit turning a more yellow or light caramel shade.
Take care as the mixture will boil up and may sputter - so it is best to use a long handled whisk if possible.
After 5 minutes, begin whisking the egg yolks. While whisking them constantly, slowly and carefully pour about half of the milk mixture into the yolks. This will temper the eggs. Pour these back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
Cook this for a further 5 minutes whisking continuously. The mixture should thicken a bit into more of a light pourable custard consistency.
Remove from the heat and pour into the prepared chilled pie shell. Leave to cool on the counter while you prepare the meringue.
Making Port Meringue
So the port meringue is probably the most unique element of this recipe. It is a really interesting, purple pillowy soft meringue. The port adding flavour and sharpness to cut the sweetness.
Begin by placing the port and sugar into a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved into the port. Keeping the mix on a medium heat, bring this to a boil, but don't stir. As with caramel, stirring once the mixture starts reaching heat can cause sugar crystals to form.
Let the mixture boil for about 3 minutes, while you whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl using a handheld electric whisk. Whisk these to soft peaks.
After three minutes, while whisking the whites continuously, slowly pour a stream of the port syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Continue whisking on high until thick, glossy and cooled down a bit. This should reach stiff peaks.
Pipe or dollop the meringue over the custard filling and allow to cool.
FAQs for Suspiro de Limeña Tart
Allow the custard and meringue to cool at room temperature first before storing in the refrigerator. This will help avoid the meringue sweating in the fridge. I like to leave mine out for about half an hour before transferring to the refrigerator.
Leave in the tart case until ready to serve.
This tart can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. It is best made a day in advance of serving, to let it chill and set. After a couple of days (especially if storing leftovers after slicing), the cookie crust may start to become a little soggy due to the custard filling.
Not strictly though the port meringue is certainly a traditional part of the dessert. You could instead use another favourite Peruvian liqueur in the meringue - Pisco. As the syrup is boiled for a few minutes, this will cook off the alcohol content. However, if you prefer to leave out these liqueurs entirely you can also just use water to make a simple sugar syrup.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Pisco Sour Cupcakes - another Peruvian inspired recipe
Or some other tarts and cheesecakes:
Suspiro de Limeña Tart
Ingredients for Biscoff Biscuit Base
- 2 cups crushed Lotus Biscoff biscuits
- ¼ cup caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted
Ingredients for Manjar Blanco
- 12 oz evaporated milk or 1 standard sized can of evaporated milk
- 14 oz condensed milk or 1 standard sized can of condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
Ingredients for Port Meringue
- ½ cup caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon port
- 2 egg whites
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for serving
- Begin by mixing together the crushed biscuits, sugar and melted butter to form the biscuit base. Press this firmly into a 9" tart or pie shell and refrigerate for an hour while preparing the filling. For tips see my recipe here.
- Place the egg yolks in a heat proof bowl and set aside.
- In order to make the manjar blanco, pour the condensed milk and evaporated milk into a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to boil. Then, stirring constantly continue to boil for about 5 minutes.
- Removing the milk from the heat and begin to whisk the egg yolks. Whisking the yolks constantly, slowly pour about half of the milk mixture into the eggs. Pour this back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and whisk, returning to the heat.
- Continue whisking constantly for another 5 minutes until thickened to a pourable custard consistency. Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla extract and pour straight into your prepared pie crust.
- Set the manjar filled tart aside while you prepare the port meringue.
- Place the port and ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to heat on medium, bringing the syrup to a boil.
- Once the syrup begins boiling, stop stirring and allow to to boil for three minutes. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- After 3 minutes, remove the syrup from the heat and, while whisking the egg whites continuously, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the meringue.
- Continue whisking on a high speed until the meringue is glossy, cool and stiff peaked. Then, transfer to a piping bag to pipe or dollop onto the manjar blanco custard filling.
- Allow to cool for at least half an hour at room temperature before refrigerating.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.