Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brazo De Mercedes - Meringue and Egg Yolk Custard Roll

        This is another attempt to make a Filipino dessert. Like the Leche Flan, I was introduced to this dessert at one of the parties which were held at Ryan's place. These dinner parties are usually pot luck style with many people bringing different dishes and it's usually the desserts that I look forward to as Ryan's mum doesn't really cook or make desserts.
        I've only ever seen this dessert once before, just faintly remembering the taste and not remembering the name (Ryan didn't even know what it was called) but I do remember that it looked quite strange and intriguing to me at the time. I remembered that it looked like a swiss roll, but made of meringue and custard. I wanted to try and make another Filipino dessert so did a bit of googling and in my search found that this dessert was called Brazo De Mercedes. The one we had was definately store bought though as it was quite a perfect looking roll and came out of a cake box.

        I was also excited to find that there were recipes to make the Brazo De Mercedes, how awesome to be able to make my own. Like the Leche Flan, the main ingredients of this dessert are eggs and condensed milk, with the addition of a few other ingredients. Ryan thinks this is why so many Filipino's suffer from all sorts of health complications, their desserts are so rich!

        I work with a few recipes, taking pointers from each and making a few slight adjustments such as reducing the amount of sugar used! The main recipe I refer to uses 8 eggs, both the whites and yolks, unlike the Leche Flan that used 12 yolks and left me with 12 whites to use up. The photo on that page, even though messy, still looks a lot better than mine, it's almost what I had pictured in my mind.
        I think the more traditional method of making this dessert involves reducing down some milk for the filling but some recipes, like the one I referred to, call for a can of condensed milk which works perfectly fine. I also read that some recipes included some ground cashews in the filling which I decided to omit this time around.

        As I am beating my egg whites, I am kind of mesmerised at how someone, some time in history invented the method of beating egg whites to make all these yummy desserts (and some savoury dishes too of course). I am simply fascinated by the science happening between my egg beaters and the egg whites.

        The egg yolks are mixed with the condensed milk and are gently cooked over a pot of water (double boiler). As I hadn't really done this method of custard before I had the water on the lowest setting and kept stirring and stirring for about 30 minutes. Looking back at the photo I think I could have done with the heat up a little higher, I don't think I cooked the custard enough as it ended up being quite runny even after refridgeration.

        As I am pouring the beaten egg whites onto the baking tray I panic a little thinking maybe there was too much egg white or my tray was too small (it was as wide as my oven is already so couldn't have been). Looking at the tray side on, it looked extremely thick but I thought that I should follow the recipe to the tee here.

        I havn't really baked meringues before so wasn't quite sure what to expect when making this. When seeing how brown it was I had imagined that it was maybe quite solid but when I touched it, it was very soft to the touch. The outer layer is dry enough to handle, with the soft meringue in the middle so it is still pliable. It looked a little thick still so I was worried wether it would roll up properly or not.

        I panic a little when I discover that the whole thing shrinks! Panic changes to relief as I realise it's now the perfect thickness for rolling. Though the shrinking has made the surface quite ugly. This is generally the side that is used for presentation, sometimes people make groves and patterns in the meringue before baking. It's then flipped over after baking and the other side is rolled and inverted into the roll. I decide that I like the underside of my meringue so make that become the outside of my roll.

        As my custard was a little on the runny side I was worried the hot meringue would melt my custard further. I was hesitant to leave the meringue to cool too as I wasn't sure wether it would stiffen or not. I take a gamble and spread the filling over the meringue sheet. In my mind I had the image of a swiss roll so I wanted to have the alternating layer of custard and meringue. Some recipes tell you to just spoon the filling along the one side and then roll the filling into the centre with the meringue surrounding it.

        I find the whole thing quite fragile and the meringue doesn't quite want to roll up as I had imagined it to. Because the filling is runny it starts to just flow out all of the sides like lava and my hands are just completely covered in sweet sticky custard (mmm they were finger licken good though!). I didn't get the nice perfect roll that I had envisioned. This is as good as it got. I put the whole thing into the fridge hoping that the custard would maybe set and it would be better.

        For photo purposes I decided that I would transer the roll to a nice platter. Tough task it was, I felt the meringue break a little as I attempted to lift it up, it also refuses to budge from the baking paper getting stuck from all the sticky filling. I almost have to flip it twice from the baking tray onto the platter.

        I definately wanted Ryan to try this dessert. I was going to split the log into 3, but ended up cutting it in half, one half for my uncle, aunty and cousins to try and one for Ryan's family. I wasn't sure if anyone at home would want to touch it because they're not fond of strange looking food but I end up cutting a few slices off to leave at home, I end up eating it all anyway. Ryan loved it but commented that it was extremely rich. Apparantly when his parents discovered what they were in posession of they ate almost two thirds of the half that I gave them. Brazo De Mercedes is an extreme popular dessert of the Filipino's. The fact that I got Ryan's dad excited meant alot. He's not one to try strange foods either.
        I found out that Grandma was down from Queensland and staying with my uncle and aunty and had a slice of my log, the next day she was over for dinner and told me how much she enjoyed eating it. I'm definately making this again. I made so many mistakes to learn from, next time I am expecting to make a much more improved roll. I think I like this even more than the Leche Flan now. The soft, almost melting meringue together with the sweet creamy filling. Oh it is blissful to eat!


Justin said...

i've never heard of or seen something like this before, but it looks really interesting

Maria @ ScandiFoodie said...

I always think of the same thing when beating the egg whites! And it's always as fascinating!

Sara @ Belly Rumbles said...

I love reading your blog, always something I haven't seen before. Thank you for sharing this dessert, it really is very interesting, fantastic first attempt and well done on tracking down the recipe.

penny aka jeroxie said...

That looks so rich and naughty! just up my alley though ;)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That looks so interesting! I've never seen that dessert before! :D

chocolatesuze said...

oh baby anything with condensed milk gets me excited im def trying this on the weekend!

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Justin: Thanks for dropping by =)

Hi Maria: Baking is such a fascinating science too =)

Hi Sara: Aww thanks =)

Hi Penny: Yup very very naughty indeed! Haha but am keen to making it again! =D

Hi Lorraine: Thanks! Oh really? Hmm if you have any Filipino friends (who can make this) I'd go pester them, or you might have to look up some Filipino bakeries and go hunt some down (note: they're all out far west though)

Hi Suze: Haha if you do, hope you do a better job than I did =)