Food is an important part of cultural heritage and national identity. Cooking and eating together can connect us to people and places, bringing friends and families together with the same goal: to discover a new culture.
If we really want to deeply explore the beauty of Hispanic traditions, learning to prepare a couple of traditional recipes is a must!
When I was eight years old my mother enrolled me in cooking classes. Every Thursday for six months in a row, I discovered the beauty of cooking different dishes that somehow impacted my way of seeing food in daily life. For me eating a meal together means sharing values, traditions and building memories for the future.
Today I would like to share with you a recipe to prepare my favorite Venezuelan dessert Quesillo. This decadent dish is a treat that I frequently make for my husband and children when I see their need for some comfort food and also for special occasions.
Quesillo is a typical Venezuelan dessert made with eggs and condensed milk. The whole surface of the mold is cooked in a water bath and caramelized. It is usually served as a dessert specially on birthdays, however, I make Quesillo whenever I feel homesick or want to emotionally connect to my roots.
History of Quesillo
Many historians relate the origins of Quesillo to the well known Leche Asada Española, a traditional Spanish flan originated in the Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) and brought to Venezuela by the Spaniars during Colonial times. The name Quesillo means “little cheese” and comes from the fact that this dessert has pores reminiscent of cheese holes. These pores are produced by being made with whole eggs (unlike the flan in which only the yolks are used).
By giving all of you my go-to recipe for Quesillo, I feel like I am sharing a piece of my childhood memories and also letting you in on my culture and values. Quesillo brings to me memories of my mother, family reunions, the smile of my children and holiday traditions.
Quesillo Venezolano a la Flor
6 Medium Pastured Eggs (kept at room-temperature)
1 Can Condensed Milk
1 Can Whole Milk
Dark Rum (optional)
For the caramel:
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
How to do this delicious dessert?
Heat oven to 325 F.
Pour 1 cup of sugar in a warm pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of water. Constantly stir the sugar and the water while they heat until they brown and turn into caramel. It should be like a dark-brown liquid.
Immediately pour caramel in a custard dish or large ramekin, tilting it so the caramel swirls around on the inside. Work quickly, as the caramel will cool and harden almost as soon as it hits the dish. Reheat caramel in the pan if it thickens too much to work with.
Blend all other ingredients until smooth. I use the blender, but my mother preferred the electric mixer. Your choice.
Pour the custard mixture into the caramel-lined dish. Place this dish in a large glass, ceramic, or metal baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan around the custard dish to a depth of about 2 – 3 inches. This process is called “Baño de María” or hot water bath.
Bake the Quesillo for 60 minutes in the water bath. Check with a knife inserted just off-center into the dish; if the knife comes out clean, the Quesillo is ready.
Remove the large baking dish from the oven and carefully take the individual dish out of the hot water. Let cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for three hours or overnight. (Leave Quesillo in the dish it baked in until time to serve.)
To serve, invert dish onto a serving plate or platter, allowing the Quesillo to drop out and the caramel sauce to flow over the custard. Enjoy!