This, my friends, is bienmesabe, or as near to heaven on a spoon as you can get! Food of the gods indeed. Doesn’t really look that appetizing, does it? But it is so rich that most people can’t finish a portion like the one above. I, however, can!
I’ve never even tried to make it, because I know that once I’ve done it, I’ll do it again – and again – and again……and I really don’t need the extra pounds that would pile on! It does sound very simple, though. For a long time I thought it was made with honey, but basically it’s almonds, a syrup made from reduced sugar, lemon peel, cinnamon and eggs. The almonds are toasted and then ground as fine as possible. You make the syrup by dissolving a ratio of roughly one and a half times weight of sugar to two of water, letting it thicken on a low heat once all the sugar has absorbed. It shouldn’t take all that long. I use the same syrup to soak oranges with some liqueur and the orange peel added for another simple but effective dessert. When the syrup is the right consistency you add the almonds, lemon peel and cinnamon, and stir well in, of course. You let it cool, add the beaten eggs, then warm it up again, cool it down again in the ‘fridge, and voilá.……tastes good to me, which is the translation of the name.
Like many Spanish desserts and sweets this originated in Arabia, and was imported to Spain when the Moors invaded in the 8th century and after. Indeed they imported the almond trees themselves, and this is definitely not the only traditional Spanish sweetmeat made from almonds. Later almond trees made their way from the Peninsula to the Canary Islands after the Spanish Conquest, and are as much a part of traditional cooking here as on the mainland.
The dish above was one I devoured recently in a small bar/restaurant in Santiago del Teide. Oh, heck, it sounds so easy – maybe I will give it a try after all!