October is the month of Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles) in Peru. It’s commonly known as ‘purple month,’ as the devotees of this Catholic holiday wear purple all month long, as well as capes adorned with the image of the milagroso Cristo de Pachacamilla (miraculous Christ of Pachacamilla.)
According to legend, many years ago during the colonial period in Peru there was a humble woman named Josefa Marmanillo. Due to grave health problems, Josefa could not work and prayed to Cristo Morado (the purple Christ) in search of help. In her prayers she pledged that she would devote the rest of her energy and work to his holy name if cured. Afterward, Josefa was cured one day and that same night had a dream where the recipe for (Peruvian) turrón was revealed to her. In gratitude to the Lord she dedicated herself to making this dessert for offering at all the religious processions of the ‘Lord of Miracles’ and sold enormous amounts of her special cake.
This holiday treat is made with flour, shortening, egg yolks and anise– giving it its characteristic flavor. To give the ‘cake’ a bit of color without extra cost, chefs have traditionally colored the dough with water and achiote. With the dough, long ‘canes’ are rolled-out and baked, then layered side by side using a chancaca or molasses syrup to ‘glue’ the canes together, forming two layers. This is a long and delicate job, but a well made turrón is a delicia that will simply melt in your mouth. Make sure to not confuse this preparation with any other type of turrón, especially the Spanish version as they are not similar at all; that wouldn’t be a nice surprise.
Over many decades, this Peruvian turrón has been prepared and eaten in exactly the same traditional way, but recently given the innovation and creativity of chefs, this dessert has been combined with various other recipes, such as the well-known cheesecake. Here the turrón will form the base of the cheesecake, lending its special flavor to
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 package of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- Large cupcake pan, for baking
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- In a bowl, place the crumbled turrón and combine with the melted butter.
- Cover 10 individual cupcake molds with a paper cupcake base and place one tablespoon of the turrón mix in the bottom of each one. Press the turrón down with the back of a spoon to form the cheesecake crust and refrigerate for ten minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 °F, then prepare the filling by combing the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in a separate bowl. Blend the mixture with an electric beater and slowly add the egg yolks.
- When the mixture looks uniform, pour into the prepared cupcake molds and fill 3/4 of the way. Transfer the mold(s) to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
- In another bowl, add the ingredients for the topping (sour cream, sugar and vanilla) and stir well. When the cupcakes have finished baking, add one tablespoon of the prepared topping over each one and bake for 12 more minutes.
- When ready remove from the oven and let cool over a wire rack. Afterward, place in the refrigerator to chill.
- To serve, sprinkle crumbled turrón de doña Pepa over each cupcake.
- This dessert is very easy to make, especially if you purchase a ready-made (Peruvian) turrón de doña Pepa. Now they also sell individual ?portion-sized? packages just as if they were cookies. You can also use these according to the recipe instructions.
- You can also purchase miel de chancaca (spiced brown sugar syrup) and use at room temperature in place of preparing your own syrup.
- To give your finished ?cake? a more festive appearance, decorate with colored sprinkles or tiny candies used for cake decorating.