Tenerife produces some of the most delicious exotic fruits you’re likely to find anywhere on the planet but that wasn’t always the case. Until irrigation methods found ways to bring water up from underground galleries, water was precious and rarely used for anything so frivolous as fruit. Consequently, traditional desserts had to rely on basic ingredients which were plentiful, and Tinerfeño housewives learned how to make the most of eggs, sugar, lemon, cinnamon, gofio and almonds. So much so, that you could fill an entire recipe book with the traditional postres or puddings, all of which use the same half dozen ingredients, give or take an addition or two.
If, like me, you have an inherent need to end a meal on a sweet note, these are the most common desserts you’ll find on menus in traditional Tenerife restaurants.
Mousse de Gofio. Enjoying something of a resurgence with the island’s more progressive chefs, gofio is finding its way onto even the most creative menus. The gofio is blended with milk, egg yolks and whipped cream to create a light and frothy mousse with the taste of an ice cream cone. This one was at Mirador de Garachico.
Arroz con Leche. Basically, cold creamed rice made with condensed milk, lemon and cinnamon, arroz con leche is a staple of Canarian menus and you’ll find it cropping up everywhere. Not a personal like but one which many people love.
Bienmesabe. I first encountered this dessert on La Palma several years ago but have recently seen it making guest appearances in La Orotava and in Garachico. Almonds, water, lemon, cinnamon and sugar are boiled to form a jammy paste to which beaten egg yolks are added and the whole is left to cool. Sweet, almond and very tasty, with a texture like soggy sponge.
Quesillo. A sort of milk flan, quesillo is eggs, condensed milk and caramel cooked in a Bain-Marie (a bowl set in a pan of water) until set and then cooled. Often served with Miel de Palma, quesillo tastes like crème caramel without the cracked topping. Rich and sweet and not really my kinda thing.
Frangollo. Literally translated as ‘a mess’ in Mexico, frangollo is made by boiling milk, cinnamon, sugar, lemon peel, almonds and raisins and then slowly adding the frangollo, or maize flour, until it’s a thick paste. Not the best looking of desserts but surprisingly tasty and a bit like bread and butter pudding. Very filling though so a portion between two is a safer bet.
Huevos Mole. Sometimes appearing on menus just as mole (mo-lay), I confess I have never tried this as it just doesn’t appeal. Beaten egg yolks are added to a syrup of sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon and boiled until the whole thickens to a custard consistency, then it’s left to cool.
Leche Asada. Another leading light of the traditional menus, leche asada is a bit like frangollo with eggs. Beaten eggs are combined with milk, condensed milk, cinnamon and lemon zest, then poured into a mould and cooked in a Bain-Marie until set. To serve, it’s then baked or fried in butter until golden. My favourite Tenerife postre. This particular beauty was actually in a restaurant in Lanzarote.
Category : food and drink
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