Dear Mr. Morino,
So many incredible things have happened since my last letter that I hardly know where to begin.
I’ll start with the best news first – I’m hitchhiking back to Wisconsin and our dear Henry is coming with me!
Yeah, trust me when I say that I’m every bit as surprised as you are.
I’m sure you can imagine my astonishment when I happened to chance upon Henry along the trail to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu… no, on second thought it wasn’t chance at all, but fate.
It was pure fate that reunited me with our most prized llama whom I found plodding up the very same rainwashed path I was traveling on.
I am now certain that fate will soon carry us over the Andes, clear our path through the Amazon, and deliver us safely out of South and Central America without anymore major calamities to report.
Eventually, fate will see us all the way back to the Badger State where I can finally be restored to my rightful position as lead de-fleecer at Shear and Shave Llama Services. As you must know, in your heart of hearts, my position at your company was outright stolen from me by that dastardly Senor Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza. Still, I hold no grudges against the man and pray one day he will realize that he’s a useless human being and llama grooming just isn’t his cup of tea.
Thus far, Peru has certainly been no picnic -but don’t you worry none about me, Mr. Morino! I now have Henry back by my side and I believe the worst of it is definitely behind me. To be honest, it’s Henry I worry about the most. His heart was broken way up there on that mountain and losing love brings tremendous hurt – even to a wooly, old guanaco llama. Although my llama translating skills are a bit rusty, I was able to get the gist of what happened to Henry through a series of tail, body, and ear postures coupled with humming and a high-pitched rhythmic shrill. Basically the story Henry told me went something like this:
For me it was love at first sight. Though she was traveling down from the highlands within a harem of five other females, she was the only llama to catch my eye. She had an elongated neck, the roundest muzzle, and the cutest cleft lip I’d ever seen. She was the kind of llama that could make your wool unfurl and stand up on end. Her name was Lena and she was beautiful.
I thought I could just ignore those passions stirring within me. I wish now I would’ve simply turned and pranced away. I knew how much you needed me and how worried you’d be if I lingered there any longer, but it wasn’t I who betrayed you; it was my cursed, infatuated heart. I was unable to break my gaze away from her and she soon captured those stolen glances with long fluttering eyelashes over big cow-like eyes. She had me with that look and everything after that was sunny skies and alfalfa sprouts- life was good!
When she told me she was pregnant I was so overjoyed that I believed my chest would just burst. So surely you can imagine my shame, disgust, and hurt when Lena, surrounded by the entire herd, gave birth to an alpaca half-breed. She tried to say it was just a runt and that the little cria was mine. She wasn’t pulling the wool over my eyes though; those pointy ears and that hairy little face was telling a much more scandalous story!
“I don’t need your baby llama drama!”, I told her. “This llama is going back to Wisconsin where the only worries I’ll have is being made to stand six hours in a covered corral for a silly 4-H Best of Showmanship award!”
So that was that and now Henry is every bit as determined to make it back home as I am. Aside from my constant hunger pangs, I’d say we both were faring pretty good under the current circumstances. After a recent dinner ordeal involving poisonous berries and glow-in-the-dark grub worms, I’ve resolved to mimic Henry’s diet regiment by sticking to lichens, tree foliage, and native shrubs.
Eating like a llama really isn’t all that bad; although I still haven’t quite mastered that whole cud regurgitating technique. It’s amazing how much a person takes food for granted until they’re reduced to eating flower petals and mysterious prairie biscuits. Oh, how I would give my left arm right now for just a handful of honey-roasted peanuts ! Truth be told, it was those honey-roasted peanuts I found in the abandoned missionary’s camp that proved to be the real life-saver. How did honey-roasted peanuts save my life, you ask? Well, it wasn’t from starvation if that’s what you’re thinking. I had a much more sinister demise awaiting me.
If you recall from the last letter I sent, that witch doctor, Cocobo, seemed to become more hospitable the longer I sat dangling in that smelly cage. When he informed me that I was to be his guest-of-honor in a barbecue being thrown for the Imajaeatcha people, I just knew things were definitely looking up for me. Well, I waited and waited in that cage while they incessantly beat their drums and danced around…beating and dancing… beating and dancing…
Yeah, I knew it was rude to spoil my appetite just before a dinner invitation but I was getting really hungry and those two packs of honey-roasted peanuts were still stowed safely away in my pocket for just this sort of occasion. I hadn’t popped but a few handfuls of them into my mouth when I noticed the Imajaeatcha people heading my way. At the head of these two advancing columns was the witch doctor, Cocobo. He was clutching a knotted staff in his right hand; its head smartly adorned with a miserable, shrunken head. As he marched, Cocobo swung the curious staff wildly into the air; keeping tempo with the beat while leading his ghastly jungle parade straight towards my cage.
Not certain how long it would take to prepare the food, and still feeling rather famished, I quickly jammed any remaining peanuts into my mouth before the natives reached the vicinity of my cage. It wasn’t but a second later, I was being swiftly lowered to the ground through a rudimentary system of ropes and pulleys.
Once grounded, Cocobo unlatched my cage and quizzically examined the fullness of my face. “Ya’ eating something?”, the witch doctor asked.
I fibbed by shaking my head no. The Imajaeatcha people silenced their drumming, lowered spears, and curiously leaned in towards my cage to gather a whiff.
“You most certainly are eating something”, Cocobo replied. “Open your mouth!”
There was no use trying to hide it at this point, I had been caught.
“It was just a handful of peanuts”, I confessed, “but by no means did I spoil my appetite.”
“What was that?” the witch doctor inquired.
I leaned down and picked up one of the small empty packets lying on the cage floor and held it up for all to see. “It was just a small pack… Just a small pack of honey-roasted peanuts.”At the mere mention of “peanuts”, all of the Imajaeatcha people let out a shriek and took a sudden step back from my cage.
Now there’s a certain fact concerning the Imajaeatcha people that’s not widely known outside their inner circle. The Imajaeatcha people are deathly allergic to peanuts and they always have been. The Spanish learned of this in the 1500’s but that knowledge was long ago carried with them back to Spain. The monkey king, Cheechee, knew of this as well but was bound to total secrecy.
The sinister witch doctor, Cocobo, who’s lived for years amongst the Imajaeatcha people, truly had no idea they all suffered from peanut allergies. Nevertheless, when the Imajaeatchas discovered I’d been eating the noxious nuts, they instantly became convinced that the witch doctor had devised this elaborate plot to kill them. Perhaps Cocobo’s long history of failed potions and bitter medicines had eroded any trust that once existed between him and the Imajaeatcha people. Perhaps none ever really existed at all. Regardless, the Imajaeatchas were certain my invitation to supper was all but a sinister scheme to serve up some badly tainted food.
I guess I should’ve felt angrier upon learning I was to be the main course at the Imajaeatchas’ barbecue, but I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for that bony little nose-ringed fellow. Oh, Cocobo tried everything in his power to reason with them.
“How would I even know you were all allergic to peanuts when I’ve seen you eat everything else under the sun including everybody we’ve ever met?”
He tried desperately to plead his case.
“Please don’t eat me! Where will you find another witch doctor who can do as good a job witch-doctoring as me?”
I thought Cocobo brought some valid points to the table, but I guess those natives weren’t all that impressed. In the end, the Imajaeatcha people passed on the Wisconsin bred, all-white-meat barbeque. I can’t say they made the tastiest decision, but I didn’t dare argue that point. As it turned out, they had a hankering for more of a localized dish; something resembling a gamey Peruvian dark-meat stew.
In closing, give my regards to Linda. I’m certain my next letter will be written from a safer place, far removed from the nasty jungles of Peru.
Thank you for reading my article and I hope you visit my site again real soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and show some love on social media.
Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged llama, Machu Picchu, peru by Big John with no comments yet.
One of the most exciting aspects about international travel can be the simple joy of sampling new desserts. If you’re a globetrotter with a sweet tooth, you know I’m speaking your language.
In the following article I’ve compiled an assorted list of scrumptious confections from around the world. If you’re currently not traveling, no need to feel left out. I’ve included the complete recipe for each dessert featured; this way you won’t have to journey any further than your own kitchen to enjoy these tastes from around the globe.
Chinese migrant workers first introduced banana plants to Queensland in the 1800s. Since then, the taste of this sweet pulpy fruit has become an Australian favorite. The banana fritter is not only delicious, it makes for a low-fat , high-fiber dessert.
Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 10 mins Ready In: 15 mins
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of margarine
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 quart of vegetable oil (for frying)
- 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)
First, in a large bowl mash the bananas. Mix in milk, eggs and margarine until it’s completely smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir these dry ingredients into your banana mixture.
Next, heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pan to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C. Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil, and cook, turning once, until browned 2 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners’ sugar. This may not be the prettiest dessert but they sure are tasty.
Coconut Truffles (Beijinho de Coco)
Brazil is the fourth largest producer of coconuts in the entire world. With those sort of statistics, it’s only fitting that I feature the coconut truffle as this South American country’s favorite dessert.
Prep Time: 10 mins : Cook Time: 2 hrs, 5 mins Ready In: 2 hrs, 15 mins
- 1 can (13.5oz) coconut milk, full fat
- 3 tablespoon of honey
- ½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon real vanilla extract
First mix the coconut milk and the honey in a medium sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally . You will notice the mixture thickening during the 2 hours. It should become thick enough that it doesn’t run off the spoon easily.
Next, add the butter, vanilla and the shredded coconut. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. When the mixture starts releasing off the bottom of the pan with a very thick consistency, remove from the stove and allow to cool.
Next, place the mixture in the fridge for 2 hours. It’s very important it completely cools before you roll. After the allotted time, remove from fridge. Using your hands, start rolling the truffles into balls. Lastly, roll each ball in shredded coconut to make approximately 20 truffles.
Almond Tahini Date Balls
The date palm is the most abundant tree in Egypt. These magnificent trees produce over a million tons of fruit each year. With this many dates, I just have to feature them in this Egyptian dessert. The almond tahini date ball is one sweet treat that’s truly fit for a pharaoh!
Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 0 mins Ready Time: 20 mins
- 2 cups of raw almonds
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of tahini
- 18 large dates, pitted
- 1 pinch of sea-salt (optional)
- 1/4 cup of sesame seeds to coat
First, grind almonds and cinnamon in food processor until finely chopped. Add the tahini and continue to pulse.
Next, add dates and a pinch of salt. Chop until mixture is completely blended. Form into 1″ balls, roll into sesame seeds to coat, and refrigerate.
Almond Tahiti Date can be eaten at room temperature, but I find that they are best served chilled.
English Butter Toffee
Chocolate and almonds compliment the rich buttery flavor in this gorgeous British treat. Growing up, this toffee was one of my mother’s favorite Christmas-time candy recipes.
Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 15 mins Ready In: 20 mins
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of slivered or chopped almonds (pecans or walnuts may be used as a substitute)
- 1 cup of chocolate chips
A candy thermometer is recommended when making this toffee to ensure the mixture reaches a hard crack stage.
First cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set it to the side.
In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar. Heat mixture, stirring constantly until sugar begins to golden or become caramelized ( 300 degrees F or 150 C).
Upon reaching the correct temperature, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet spreading the toffee evenly. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Allow the chocolate chips to sit atop the toffee momentarily until it begins to melt. Utilize the back of your mixing spoon to spread the melting chocolate in a consistent layer across the toffee. Sprinkle the nuts . Let cool completely in the refrigerator before breaking into pieces.
The French dessert, Clafoutis, meaning “to fill”, has an origin that traces back to the rural region of Limousin. This scrumptious treat, consisting of sweet cherries suspended in a pancake-like filling, will have you saying “oui” for another slice!
Prep Time: 40 mins Cook Time: 45 mins Ready In: 1 hr, 25 mins
- 1 1/2 pounds of pitted sweet cherries
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 8 egg whites
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons of cherry brandy
- 2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F(165 degrees C). Grease a 10 inch tart pan or a similar sized baking dish. Spread out the cherries in the bottom of the prepared pan then set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and cream. Stir in the cherry brandy and vanilla extract. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until smooth. Now take your complete mixture and pour it over the cherries.
Next, bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until puffed and browned. Let cool until the top sinks in just slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving and top with some vanilla ice cream or light whipped cream. B
Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte )
Many assume this cake was named after the Black Forest mountain range that sweeps across southwestern Germany. It’s actually inspired by the specialty liqueur flowing through that same region. The ingredients, cherries and alcohol, give this spirited sweet a very distinct European flavor.
Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 30 mins Ready Time: 1 hr
For the cake:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- 2 cups of sugar
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of strong brewed coffee, cold
- 1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract
- 1 can (21 ounces) of cherry pie filling
- 1/2 cup of cherry liqueur
For the whipped frosting:
- 3 cups of heavy cream, chilled
- 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans. Make the milk sour by mixing in the vinegar. Set aside. Take a medium sized mixing bowl and chill in the freezer (used later for whipped frosting).
Next, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, coffee and vanilla. Stir in the sour milk. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until fully incorporated.
Next, pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake layers to completely cool on wire racks before adding filling.
For the cherry filling: Combine the cherry pie filling and cherry liqueur. Refrigerate cherry mixture until chilled before adding to cake.
For the whipped frosting: Removed the chilled mixing bowl from freezer. Add chilled heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Beat at a high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the whipped frosting and set it aside.
Once the cake layers have cooled, remove from pans and set on wire racks. Using a long serrated knife, split cakes horizontally creating four layers. Take one of the layers and crumble into a small bowl. Set aside.
Next, gently brush the loose crumbs from each cake layer. Place the first remaining layer on a plate and spread on 1 cup of the whipped frosting. Now top with 3/4 cup of the cherry filling. Add the second cake layer on first and repeat the process. Top with the third cake layer. Take some whipped frosting and spread around the entire sides of the cake.
Next, pat the reserved cake crumbs over the frosting on the sides of the cake. When completed, take the whipped frosting set aside and pack inside a pastry bag with a starred decorator’s tip. Utilizing the starred decorator’s tip, pipe frosting around the bottom and top of the cake. Finally, spoon in the remaining cherry filling into the center of the cake.
This may look like a French croissant , but the Israelis have taken these sweet crescents to a whole new level of doughy goodness! Rugelach, a word in Yiddish meaning “little twists”, is a traditional Jewish pastry that can be eaten at any time of year. Most often these treats are favored on Hanukkah and other religious celebrations.
Prep Time: 1 hr Cook Time: 25 mins Ready In: 1 hr, 25 min
For the dough:
- 7 ounces of sweet butter
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
For the chocolate filling:
- 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of grated bitter-sweet chocolate (65-85% cacao)
- butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup of sugar
- 1/8 cup of cinnamon
First, in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth. Add flour and mix lightly. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into four balls. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one ball out into a circle until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.
Next, in small bowl, mix the first four filling ingredients together (cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, grated chocolate). Spread some melted butter on the center of the circle. Sprinkle the chocolate mixture on top.
Now cut the pastry into pie-shaped wedges. For bite-sized and aesthetic looking rugelach, the thick end of wedge should be about 1 1/2 inches wide. Start at the wide edge of the wedge and roll the dough up toward the point.
Next, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place each pastry, seam side down, on the paper. Brush each pastry with the egg and sugar/cinnamon.
Finally, bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown –
The Emirate of Sicily was once an Islamic state that existed in southern Italy from 827 to 902 AD. During this time of Muslim rule, a popular pastry was introduced to the land consisting of a deep-fried doughy tube filled with various sweets. Although the Arabs no longer occupy the land, this scrumptious confection is here to stay. The cannoli, meaning “little tube“, is now every bit Italian as the Pantheon or Vespasian’s Colosseum.
Prep Time: 45 mins Cook Time: 1 hr Ready Time: 3 hrs, 45 mins
Special equipment needed:
Cannoli tubes; pasta maker (recommended )
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of shortening
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup of Marsala wine
- 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 quart of vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 (32 ounce) container of ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup of candied citrons
- 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
First, in a medium bowl mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the shortening until it is in pieces no larger than peas. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water. Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish it by hand, kneading on a clean surface. Add a bit more water if needed to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Next, divide the cannoli dough into thirds, and flatten each one just enough to get through the pasta machine. Roll the dough through successively thinner settings until you have reached the thinnest setting. Dust lightly with flour if necessary. Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a form or large glass or bowl, cut out 4 to 5 inch circles. Dust the circles with a light coating of flour. This will help you later in removing the shells from the tubes. Roll dough around cannoli tubes, sealing the edge with a bit of egg white.
Now, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) in a deep-fryer or deep heavy skillet. Fry shells on the tubes a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Use tongs to turn as needed. Carefully remove using the tongs, and place on a cooling rack set over paper towels. Cool just long enough that you can handle the tubes, then carefully twist the tube to remove the shell. Using a tea towel may help you get a better grip. Wash or wipe off the tubes, and use them for more shells.
To make the filling, stir together the ricotta cheese and confectioner’s sugar using a spoon. Fold in the chopped citron and chocolate. Use a pastry bag to pipe into shells, filling from the center to one end, then doing the same from the other side. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar and grated chocolate for garnish when serving.
Green Tea Ice Cream
Green tea has been part of Korean culture for centuries. There are historical documents detailing Emperor Suro and Queen Seondeok enjoying this hot brew. It’s widely believed that Buddhist monks first introduced green tea to the Korean Peninsula upon their arrival from China’s Yunnan province. Because the beverage is so popular in the Land of the morning calm, green tea ice cream tops the list as a summertime favorite.
Prep Time: 25 mins Cook Time: 5 mins Ready In: 6 hours
Special equipment needed:
Ice Cream Maker
- 2 cups of Half and Half
- 3 tablespoons of green tea powder (matcha)
- ½ cup of sugar
- Pinch of salt
First, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, sugar and salt.
Begin cooking the mixture over medium heat and then add the green tea powder. Stir often. Cook until the mixture starts to foam and is very hot to the touch but not boiling.
Next, remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl sitting in an ice bath. When the mixture is cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, transfer to a pre-chilled ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacture’s instructions (20-25 minutes). Transfer the soft ice cream into an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.
Nothing is more American than baseball and hot apple pie. My babydoll, Rebecca, divulged her Grandma Erna’s family recipe for this star-spangled favorite. Trust me, you won’t want to skip out on this dessert!
Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 1 hr Ready In: 1 hr, 30 mins
For the Pie crust:
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of Wesson vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 4 tablespoons of ice-water, for joining crusts
For the pie filling:
- 6 McIntosh apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
First, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
To prepare the crust:
Whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Pour oil and milk into one cup (do not stir). Add all at once to flour. Stir until mixed. Press into a ball. Roll out between 2 sheets of wax paper. Place prepared crust into 9 inch pie plate and form edges to fit.
To prepare the pie filling:
In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Place sliced apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Toss until apples are thoroughly coated. Spoon apples into pan.
Dot apples with butter then cover with top crust. (Seal edges by brushing a little water around the edge of the bottom before placing the top crust. This helps create a good seal once the two are crimped together. Crimp as desired and cut steam vents into top.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Serve warm topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I dedicate this Eastern European cake to my sister-in-law, Daria. Recently, she moved from her homeland in Ukraine to settle down with my brother in the sunshine state of Florida. Daria, here’s to you. I hope this recipe makes you feel just a little bit closer to those loved ones you left at home.
Rest time for the egg whites: 24 hrs
Rest time for the meringues: 3 hrs
Prep Time: 1 hr, 30 mins Cook Time: 2 hrs, 30 mins
For the meringues:
- 12 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups of cashews, crushed
- 2 packages of vanilla sugar (.32 ounce)
For the buttercream:
- 2 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, soft
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups of caster (finely ground) sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- cup cocoa powder
- 2 packages of vanilla sugar (.32 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- Food coloring
First, preheat the oven to 300 F. Next, separate the egg whites and refrigerate them for 12 hours in an airtight container. Then leave the egg whites at room temperature for 12 hours.
After waiting the allotted time, beat the egg whites until stiff. While continuing to beat, add 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar and 1/4 cup of sugar.
In a bowl, mix the remaining 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of flour and 1 1/4 cup of cashew nuts. Fold this mixture gently into the egg whites by lifting it from the bottom of the bowl to the top.
Grease two 12-inch molds with removable bottoms and spread half of the meringue mixture into each. Bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Carefully unmold and cool the two meringues on a rack for at least 3 hours.
For the buttercream:
In a large nonstick saucepan, combine sugar and milk and bring to a boil. Beat the egg yolks for 5 minutes. The mixture should double in volume. While beating, add half of the hot milk syrup to the egg yolks.
Put this mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk syrup and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and continue to stir occasionally until cool.
Beat butter and vanilla sugar at high speed. While beating, gradually add the milk-egg mixture. Divide the mixture into three equal parts.
In the first part, add the cognac and whisk.
In the second part, add the cocoa and whisk.
The third part will be used for the decoration of the above by mixing with food coloring.
Assembly of your Kiev cake:
Place the first meringue. Spread the cognac cream generously over it and then place the second meringue. Cover the sides and top of cake with the cocoa cream. Cover the sides of the cake with the remaining 1 1/4 cup of cashew nuts. When decorating the cake, use different colors and allow your creativity to be your guide. Lastly, refrigerate the cake 4 – 6 hours before serving.
This article isn’t complete until you add your own scrumptious confection in the comment section below. When doing so, don’t forget to include its country of origin. Thank you for reading and I hope you visit my site again real soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog and share some love on social media.
Posted in Adventurous Places, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Great Dining, North America, South America and tagged culture foods, desserts, scrumptious confections by Big John with no comments yet.
Dear Mr. Morino,
It’s been several weeks since I sent that first letter and I’m starting to believe I’ll never make it out of Peru . The majority of those ill-fated days that have since passed, I’ve spent here in agonizing captivity. As I sit, suspended high above the jungle floor, I can’t help but assign blame to the man responsible for all of this… Senor-Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza! Even now, locked away in a lofty bamboo cage, I can scarcely bear to speak his name. In my absence, please tell Linda not to allow Juan to touch any of my trade tools; especially not my hand shears or my Heiniger shearing kit. If I ever make it out of Peru, and I’m restored to my rightful position at Shear and Shave Llama Service, I will ensure Juan Espinoza never shaves another LLama again… so help me God!
Now concerning the details surrounding my captivity, it seems they finally got me, Mr. Morino. Those heinous monkeys got me just like I said they would. The entire harrowing event unfolded not long after my missionary friend returned from the Ucayali region. At first I just thought he was upset because he found me sleeping in his tent again. I tried to calm him down. I even showed him that I hadn’t left anymore crackers in his sleeping bag. But then he said things were much more serious than that. He said he would be breaking camp immediately and that if I had any sense I would find a way out myself. The missionary stated to me that his trip to convert the natives had been cut short. He said things were no longer safe and there were rumors afoot in the jungle….dark rumors.
The monkeys were coming, he said. They were coming for me and any other outlandish soul who dared to remain in this jungle region of Peru for even one more day. According to rumors, the monkey king Cheechee had formed an alliance with Cocobo, the sinister witch doctor of the Imajaeatcha people. They were planning something devious, details not forthcoming; but the entire plan was sold to the monkey king for five jugs of 90 proof jungle punch.
I begged the missionary to take me with him. I pleaded with him to get me out of this bedeviled place. Still, he refused to let me tag along. He told me he was flying out of Peru in a 2-seater Cessna 177 and that the pilot wouldn’t want me sitting on his lap the entire way. Before he left, he offered me some sound advice. He said don’t wait for the monkeys to come and find you. Go to them. Extend your arm in a gesture of peace. Offer them some kind of gift…anything to serve as a token of your friendship.
Just as soon as my missionary friend had gathered his essentials and bugged out, I scoured the grounds of his primitive campsite. I needed a gift for the monkeys; something they would truly enjoy. As luck would have it, fate was smiling upon me that day. The missionary had left a Styrofoam cooler wedged into some rocks down at the stream. You wouldn’t believe what I found inside!
Much to my wonderment… much to my surprise, I discovered a 12-count unopened box of banana popsicles! There is not a single monkey in all the jungles of Peru that wouldn’t sell his own sister for just one banana popsicle. I was quite confident that me and these monkeys could now come to some sort of amicable agreement.
When I started out on that one-hour journey to the monkey encampment, everything seemed to be going just fine. Sure it was a bit warm outside, but I was pretty much acclimatized to the subtropical conditions by this point. I was still about fifty yards out when the clan of them came swooping down from the trees and encircled me. The monkeys growled and bared jagged sets of menacing teeth. They danced circles around me, hooting and hollering; all the while beating their fists upon their brawny chests. I just knew I was done for. I just knew that my journey had come to a grievous end. My entire life began flashing before my very eyes. Then I thought of Henry. I thought of him plodding down the mountain and stumbling upon my meager remains. I thought of my home back in Wisconsin and my job at the Shear and Shave Llama Service; and then…and then I thought of Senor-Juan-Know-It-All-Espinoza. If I were to be torn apart by these vile monkeys, then Juan would certainly be the first to lay claim to my hand shears and my Heiniger shearing kit. I had to survive!
Dropping to my knees, I placed my left hand over my eyes and threw my right one into the air.
“Banana popsicle!”, I screamed. “Who wants a banana popsicle?!”
In an instant, everything became eerily quiet. Warily, gingerly, I slid trembling fingers down the contours of my face and surveyed the scene that lay before me. King Cheechee had pushed his way through the crowd of primates and was now towering over me; his face appearing oddly expressionless. He examined the box I was holding, struck a quizzical pose, and then snatched the thing right out of my hand.
It’s the strangest thing to see a monkey smile; even stranger to see one smiling in the Peruvian jungle while holding a box of 12-count banana popsicles. At any rate, I was very relieved to see that the gift I brought was much appreciated.
Perhaps, had the fierce rays of the sun not pierced through the trees to such an extent; perhaps, had the trip to the see the monkeys not taken quite as long; perhaps, if my life wasn’t such a long drawn-out series of unfortunate events, then I might have ended this letter with much happier news to report. I can say though that what happened next taught me a very valuable lesson about monkeys. They get extremely angry when they reach into a 12-count box of banana popsicles and come out holding just a bunch of sticks!
After being set upon, beaten unmercifully, and violated in every unspeakable means imaginable, I awoke to find myself perched high up in this cage. For the most part, the time spent in this cage thus far has been free of any further abuse or molestation. Queen Patootie periodically climbs into my cage to pick nits out of my hair with her teeth; but those sort of things around here are really quite expected. I’ve also observed that Cocobo has been coming around a lot more in recent days. Surprisingly the witch doctor has a rather pleasant demeanor. He even allowed me to write this letter. The most unexpected news is that his people are throwing a barbecue tonight and I’m to be the guest of honor! I told Cocobo I hope they weren’t planning on serving piranha because I don’t eat fish.
Well, I had better end this letter for now. There’s a lot of drum beating that’s just kicked up below and I think they’re heading my way. Please attempt to track down that missionary, get my location, and send a rescue party my way. When help comes… if they actually find me here, make certain they’re carrying with them a lot of banana popsicles. Those sweet and sticky treats are the only thing that will save a person trapped in the tangles jungles of Peru.
PS. Once more, please express to Linda how sorry I am for shaving her head. In all honesty, it’s probably a much better look for her. She always seemed to have this weird frizzy thing going on with her bangs.
Thank you for reading this tragic story to its completion. Please visit my site again soon to hear the rest of the story. In the meantime, feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and share some love on social media.
Posted in South America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged peru by Big John with 4 comments.