Filipino Brazo de Mercedes is a type of rolled cake made from a sheet of soft meringue with custard filling. This heavenly cake is considered as one of the all-time favorites in the Philippines. What is good about this cake is the light sponge-like texture of the meringue that melts in my mouth. The light flavor of the meringue is balanced by the flavor of the rich custard filling. Many might think that this rolled cake is hard to create; you might be surprised how easy it is!
Back in the old Spanish colonial days, egg whites and egg shells were used as binders for plaster to build churches. Believe it or not, some of these buildings are still standing today. Since only the egg whites were used, the yolks were being thrown away. And so, people started to find ways how to use egg yolk more extensively in dishes and desserts. This is how Brazo de Mercedes was born.
As for Brazo’s name, the article, “Brazo de Gitano,” (published in Spanish Food website) says that in Spain, cream-filled cake rolls are known as brazo de Gitano (gypsy’s arm). And the brazo (arm) appellation has filtered down to colonial variants like the Chilean brazo de reina (queen’s arm) and our very own brazo de Mercedes (our Lady of Mercy’s arm). Leave it to us Filipinos in coming up with a religious name for a cake :)
- 10 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- Separate the egg whites from the yolk.
- In a bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Make the meringue by gradually adding the granulated sugar while mixing the ingredients. Mix until the texture is semi-firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place wax paper on top of a cookie sheet or large rectangular baking pan and grease the surface.
- Place the meringue on top of the greased wax paper then spread evenly using a spatula.
- Bake the meringue for 20 to 22 minutes or until the color of the top part turns light to medium brown.
- While the meringue is in the oven, make the filling by combining the egg yolks and condensed milk in a small cooking pot. Cook the mixture on the stove (low heat) while continuously stirring until the texture becomes thick.
- Add the vanilla extract to the condensed milk and egg yolk mixture, turn off the heat, and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Remove the meringue from the oven and cool down for a few minutes.
- Sprinkle the confectioners sugar on top of the meringue then place wax paper on the top part of the meringue, place a similar sized baking pan or tray on top. Note: The meringue should now be in the middle of two baking trays.
- Flip the trays. The tray you just placed on top should now be under. Remove the baking tray that is now on top and the wax paper (you should now see the opposite side of the baked meringue) then spread the filling (cooked egg yolks, condensed milk, and vanilla extract mixture) over the meringue.
- Roll the meringue starting at the longest side. Make sure that the filling is rolled inward and in the center of the roll.
- Transfer to a serving plate, slice then serve.
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