This dessert is popularly known as brazo de Mercedes (translation, the arm of the Virgin Mary) in the Philippines. With the population consisting of about 90% practicing Christians (mostly Catholic) it’s no surprise that religion has influenced the food. Or could it be the other way around? Maybe brazo is that good! Filipinos love to get together and eat, a lot. I don’t think I can remember ever going to a Filipino party with less than 50 people attending. If you wanna be in the know they are called prayers not parties (but of course they have those too). I kid you not, it’s possible to never have to cook for a month if you just go all the prayers and parties. I am speaking from experience living in Champaign, Illinois where there is a huge Filipino community. With Easter coming up this weekend, this dessert is sure to show up on many tables.
Brazo de Mercedes
I have about five friends who I get eggs from. Lately the chickens have been laying so many eggs that I’ve been getting extra eggs for free. I had to use them up so I though I would make brazo for the first time. I got the basic recipe from a family friend, Tita (Aunt) Nissa. (Thanks Tita!) My modifications include less butter, adding the zest of a whole lemon to the custard and cooking it slow and long using a double boiler to get a semi-opaque, shiny, and creamy custard.
1 can condensed milk
4 T. butter
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. powdered sugar (set aside 1 T. for dusting the meringue later)
Separate the eggs whites from the yolks. First you want to make the custard. If you don’t have a double boiler like me, heat up a medium saucepan filled halfway with water. Check to make sure the bowl with the yolks fits on top of the pan. To the yolk, add an entire can of condensed milk, lemon zest, and butter. Cook (over slowly boiling water) while constantly stirring for about 40-45 minutes until you have a thick custard. Set aside, put a plastic wrap right on the custard so a skin doesn’t form.
While the custard cools, prepare the meringue. Heat the oven on to 250 degrees F. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract into the bowl with the egg whites. Beat until the mixture turns bright white. Continue beating as you slowly add the sugar until you have soft peaks. Spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the meringue is spongy and golden brown on top.
Invert the meringue immediately onto a new sheet of parchment paper dusted with the extra powdered sugar and peel off the paper on top. Spread the custard on one end of the meringue sheet and roll gently until you have a log shape. Refrigerate for at least an hour. This cake is just perfect served with fresh fruit. I hope you enjoy it!
Better Than Cadbury Eggs
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