imbb 16: tocino de cielo

tocino del cielo 2

this edition of is my blog burning? is hosted by the lovely viv of seattle bon vivant, and the theme is eggs. i wasn't going to participate this time because of other obligations, but i had a fitting entry: tocino de cielo, a flan-like dessert brought to the philippines by the spanish and the portugeuse, but of arabic and moorish origin. i picked this particular dish

the literal translation of it is "heavenly bacon" or "lard of heaven";

i've been mesmerized by it ever since my tita f exclaimed, "tocino de cielo? oh it's simple--just 25 egg yolks and a kilo of sugar....";

the good people of jerez de la frontera in spain needed to do something with all the egg yolks left over from using egg whites to mellow tannins in red wines and remove the bitterness in sherry, so they came up with this delectation to serve with their lovely wines;

it is one of those dishes that sets your mind agoggle when you realize what's in it, but once you've tried it, with its lightness, sweetness, and cleanliness despite its depth of flavour, it becomes a perfectly reasonable proposition;

and because
it is simple, yet stunning, and a celebration upon itself; have you ever seen such golden sunshine on a plate?

tocino del cielo

thank you to viv, once again, for a great edition of imbb!

tocino de cielo

25 egg yolks
1 kilo (5 cups) of white sugar
2-3 cups of water

combine sugar and water in a saucepan; boil the sugar syrup until it reaches soft-ball stage. set aside all but 1/2 to 1 cup of the syrup to cool. continue cooking the smaller amount of syrup until it has caramelized. pour the caramelized sugar into individual molds or pan, and coat the bottoms evenly.

beat the egg yolks in a large bowl, then pour the syrup in a steady stream, whisking it thoroughly into the eggs. make sure the sugar syrup has completely cooled, or you risk cooking the eggs or ending up with a gloopy, clumpy mess. strain the mixture into the molds or pan, then steam or cook in a bain-marie for 20 to 25 minutes. cool before unmolding.


When will you do a post about how to photograph food, because you are AMAZING at it. I'm subscribed here and also to your Flickr pictures using Bloglines, and even when I don't have time to read, I love your pictures. I must have a million of your pictures starred as favorites!!

I agree - never has a flan looked so gorgeious

Simply stunning photos! Found you through flickr and am completely amazed at how wonderful your shots are!

Looks gorgeous and sounds delicious! So, what are you gonna do with all those egg whites?

Hi Santos,

Wonderful pictures and dessert. I'll definitely have to try this!

My arteries have clogged up a wee bit more just looking at your tocino. And I second Cathy's question about the egg whites. Souffle?

hi abby, petit, and conny--thank you for your kind words! frankly, the secret to the photos is finding the right spot in the house for best lighting, and taking LOTS of them so you can pick and choose which ones look best.

hi cathy and bramble! i hear the romans used to use egg whites as mortar for bricks--maybe i can get to work on an outdoor shed? or maybe i'll do what the winemakers of jerez did with their egg whites and use them to clarify sherry. because you know i can't stand a cloudy sherry (grin).

hi reid--it was super simple. i steamed the individual cups in my rice cooker--took no time at all.

Now that's what I call a dessert! I could almost hear the chorus of angels accompanying that ray of light!

whoah! that looks truly spectacular...am definitely gonna try your recipe...had tried penelope casas' tocino del cielo recipe once, which called for 10yolks and 2 eggs, and it was already very rich. can only imagine yours is even richer! yummy...

You could use the egg whites to go all beefcake.

Stunning pic, I'm convinced of AG's light of god but the agnostic in me is guessing the blowtorch.

hi gloop! more like dogs howling.

hi j! this was plenty rich, but surprisingly light at the same time. having said that, i don't think i could eat more than a small ramekin of it at any given time.

anthony--no blowtorch for this one, m'fraid. just a particularly strong shaft of light. lightsaber or isaac hayes, you be the judge.

Damned straight.

Hi, santos.
It seems to me that your photography is day by day upgrading. It's amzaing. In comparison with you, I'm a baby who faltered first steps. ^^ It looks very tasty

The flan looks very delicious! And the picture is splended!

That is a stunning piece of work. I hope I will be able to try it someday, even if 25 egg yolks is extremely daunting!

oh dear this looks so so rich and the colour just so stunning and beautiful! Gosh, I could use some right now :)


Whenever I come to this site, I always end up getting hungry.

Anyway, I think your blog is amazing. FOOD EVERYTHING and it's great!

You are an amazing chef AND an amazing photographer. I wish I could just dive into your pictures!

amazing! looked so shiny and delicous but so much egg yolks... so rich...

Wow, there's 25 egg yolk in it?! It looks delicious.. and I bet it tastes good too! ;-)

But Ate, what's not simple for Auntie F? ... if we're talking about the same person.

Do you know that they used to strain leche flan and tocino del cielo mixture with cheesecloth?

Your work looks heavenly as usual! I wish the Auntie Z can see this, hehehe!

santos this is amazing ok the photo alone speaks for itself... I will try this recipe.. a real artery clogging food but whats the heck. just came back from France and no patisserie in South of France can beat this.

Wow! Just simply wow! That looks amazing! And decadent. I can see why you had to make it Santos. And I can just picture you carrying around that plate for ages until you found the right light!

hi chocopie and dilek--thanks for the lovely words. i hope the photos are getting better, not worse.

hi colin--you can easily divide this recipe. use 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of water to 5 egg yolks and work your way from there. 5 egg yolks should give you 2-4 individual servings, depending on the size of your molds.

hi pinkcocoa--it's a definite treat worth trying.

hi ces and toni--thanks for your support and for visiting the blog. i hope one day i can actually cook something for you both :)

hi babe and piggy--25 yolks is a lot as is 1 kilo of sugar; it's really scary how much of this you can eat too :D

hi karen! i know, auntie f is like a human dynamo, i don't know how she does it. she can cook *anything* effortlessly. i remember lola's muslin and cheesecloth that she used to strain the leche flan; we have cheesecloth for that purpose, but i've never actually used it for that, just a strainer. imagine the work involved in that, but how utterly fine the product would be.

hi schatzli, you jet-setter you...you just need to hop on over to spain :)

hi zarah! (laughing) sadly, no. the rice cooker where i steamed this literally millimeters out of the frame. the plate moved six inches at most :D

can i add my praise to the chorus of angels, or dogs, or whatever? i would make this based on the name alone, but after seeing your picture, i'm just kicking myself for already using up my leftover pavlova egg yolks...

hi melissa! i was just admiring your pavlova. i give myself heartburn everytime i look at the little baggies of eggwhite i've got littering my freezer, i may have to attempt making meringues again soon.

I'll join everyone else and just say that both the recipe and the photo are incredible. What did you do with those egg whites, Santos?

wow. i've added you as a contact to my flickr account, i hope that's okay? like everyone else, i think your photographs are awesome. love your blog! =)

How absolutely 'cholesterolific', but oh so pretty!

pretty and yummy!

Yummy yummy... I need to make this for my next party and soon!

hi, santos.

wow! that tocino del cielo does look scrumptious. i can't wait to try the recipe.

a little fyi: in brazil and portugal, the tocino del cielo is actually made in the shape of bacon rashers!

"golden sushine on a plate" - beautiful description (and picture) Santos!

OMG, that has got to be the best ingredient list for any dish ever!!! I must try this - anything with caramelised sugar has my name written all over it...

25 egg yolks and 5 cups of sugar? Well at least we'll die happy.

OMG!!! That looks soooo good!! Very simple ingredients for such a beautiful thing!

-Makan Kings-

Egg whites--whisked just until they start to lose their viscosity--can be mixed with pigment to make egg tempera paint. Very big in Renaissance Flemish art.

Egg yolks whisked with sugar syrup also form the basis of classic buttercream. After the mixture is cool and pale and fluffy--several minutes on high speed--you beat in softened butter and flavorings liike vanilla, melted chocolate, liqueur etc. Use as cake filling or frosting (I use it between layers of a flourless hazelnut torte.)

hi everybody! sadly, all i did was make a bunch of omelettes. i could've gone a more interesting route, but after the indulgence of the tocino de cielo, i felt a need to reign in the excess.

although, i'd love to see the bacon shaped tocino de cielo!

I lived in Puerto de Santa Maria
(14 Km from Jerez de la Frontera) for 4+ years, so I am well acquainted with tocinio de cielo. Just wanted to set the record straight: it is NOT the result of doing "... something with all the egg yolks left over from using egg whites to mellow tannins in red wines and remove the bitterness in sherry..." Although it is true that this desert results from one of the creative ways of using leftover egg yolks,

1. They do not make red wine in that part of Spain -- they make Jerez (Sherry).

2. It is not bitterness that the egg yolks are used to remove from the sherry -- it is the "flor" -- the scum ("flower" sounds so much better, don't you think?) from the growth of natural yeast that is allowed to grow on top of the sherry while it ages in partially filled oak barrels, in the criadera system (see wikipedia if you are interested in how the criadera system works).