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. According to legend, 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 to devote the rest of her energy and work to his holy name if cured. Josefa was cured one day and that same night had a dream where the recipe for (Peruvian) turrón was revealed to her. In gratitude, she devoted her life to making this dessert as an 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. Make sure to not confuse this preparation with any other type of turrón, especially the Spanish version as they are not similar at all.
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 this classic dish.
I recommend that you try it at home and let us know how your own version turned out. I’m sure that you family will be delighted by this unique twist on an old favorite.