Tocinillo de cielo is a traditional Spanish dessert that has been delighting taste buds for centuries.
Known for its rich and smooth texture, this heavenly custard is made with simple ingredients such as egg yolks, sugar, water, and lemon zest. The name “tornillo de cielo” translates to “heaven’s little bacon” in English, but don’t be fooled – this dessert is pork-free, and its name points to its divine taste and velvety consistency.
Originating in Andalusia, tocinillo de cielo is a popular dessert served in many regions of Spain. It is believed to have been created by nuns in the 14th century, who used leftover egg yolks to produce egg-white-based desserts such as nougat. Making this luxurious treat involves creating a syrup with sugar, water, and lemon zest, which is then slowly mixed with the beaten egg yolks to create the custard base. The mixture is poured into a caramel-lined dish and baked in a bain-marie to ensure even cooking and a silky texture.
Despite its rich flavor, tocinillo de cielo is surprisingly simple to make at home, requiring only a few ingredients and some patience. The key to a perfect custard is in the gentle application of heat during the cooking process, ensuring that the texture remains smooth and creamy. With its melt-in-your-mouth consistency and exquisite taste, this divine dessert is perfect for special occasions and will impress anyone lucky enough to enjoy it.
History of Tocinillo de Cielo
Tocinillo de Cielo is a traditional Spanish dessert that traces its origins back to the 1300s in the city of Jerez. The dessert emerged as a creative solution to the abundance of leftover egg yolks from the winemaking process, during which egg whites were used to clarify wine. The surplus yolks were given to the local nuns, who then developed the recipe for this delicious treat.
The dessert’s name, which translates to “Bacon from Heaven,” is a testament to the indulgent nature of the dish rather than any actual connection to pork products. Over time, the recipe has evolved, resulting in the decadent, sweet, custard-like dessert we know today. It is primarily composed of egg yolks, sugar, and water, with the addition of lemon peel or other flavorings to enhance the taste.
During the 19th century, Tocinillo de Cielo became widespread in the monasteries of Jerez de la Frontera and Montilla-Moriles. The nuns refined and popularized the recipe, ensuring its place in Spanish culinary history. The dessert is now enjoyed in various forms, such as crème caramel, throughout the country and even internationally.
Tocinillo de Cielo has a rich history that reflects the ingenuity of Spanish nuns and the country’s culinary heritage. It is a prime example of how a simple solution to a practical problem can lead to the creation of a timeless and beloved treat.
Just like our mouth-watering Crema Catalana Recipe, this Tocinillo de Cielo Recipe is equally divine and creamy, making it a must-try dessert!
12 egg yolks
500 gr. sugar
500 ml. water
For the caramel:
125 gr. sugar
¼ cup water
Non-stick baking mold (around 30 cm x 12 cm)
Big baking tray (that can fit your baking mold)
How to Make Tocinillo de Cielo
1. In a small pot, make the caramel by adding sugar and water and cooking without stirring until it gets golden brown. Transfer immediately to your baking mold and try to cover it as much as possible.
2. In another pot, heat the sugar and water and slowly bring them to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook for 12 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it get cold. You should have medium-thick syrup.
3. Beat the egg yolks with a hand mixer and add the medium-thick syrup gradually until fully incorporated.
4. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to the mold with the caramel and place it over a big baking tray. Add water until you reach about half of the height of the baking mold to make a water bath.
5. Preheat the oven to 130ºC.
6. Cover the mold with foil and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Remove from the oven and let it get cold. Flip over a baking tray, slice, and serve.
Recipe Notes & Tips
Be very careful, and if possible, wear protective gloves when covering the inside of the baking mold with the caramel since it will be boiling.
Add the sugar syrup as slowly as possible to the egg yolks, this will help it get incorporated quickly and smoothly, and you will end up with a soft and smooth texture.
Cooling and Serving
Tocinillo de cielo is a delightful and decadent dessert that needs proper cooling and presentation to maximize its heavenly flavor. In this section, we will discuss refrigeration and presentation ideas for Tocinillo de cielo.
After steaming the Tocinillo de cielo, it is crucial to allow the dessert to cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, it should be placed in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours or ideally overnight. This will help the dessert to set and develop its full flavor. When ready to serve, it should be gently unmolded from the pan or molded onto a serving plate.
Plating and presentation are essential in making any dessert appealing to the eye. Here are some ideas for presenting Tocinillo de Cielo to your guests:
- Drizzle a thin line of caramel sauce on the plate before placing the Tocinillo de cielo, adding a touch of elegance and enhancing the caramel flavor.
- Garnish the dessert with a light dusting of powdered sugar, contrasting with the rich, golden color of the Tocinillo.
- Add a small dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream beside the dessert to add a refreshing creaminess.
- Place a few fresh berries or a sprig of mint on the plate for a pop of color and a positive flavor twist.
When presenting Tocinillo de cielo, the key is maintaining a balance between simplicity and sophistication. With these tips, your dessert will not only taste heavenly but will also look stunning, leaving a lasting impression on your guests.
Tocinillo de cielo, a delightful Spanish dessert, can be prepared in various ways to satisfy different taste buds. While the traditional recipe typically uses egg yolks, sugar, and a touch of citrus or cinnamon flavoring, experimenting with the ingredients can lead to delightful culinary surprises.
One popular variation involves adding golden raisins to the recipe. Soaking the raisins in warm water or rum before incorporating them into the custard mixture adds a hint of fruity sweetness and an interesting textural contrast. Combining fruit zest such as orange or lime with the standard lemon zest can also brighten the flavor profile of the dessert.
Spices provide another avenue for diversifying the taste of tocinillo de cielo. Instead of using the ordinary cinnamon stick, consider incorporating crushed cardamom pods or a pinch of ground nutmeg for a unique twist on this Spanish classic.
For those seeking an indulgent treat, adding a layer of whipped cream or a drizzle of melted chocolate can elevate the dessert even further. The rich, creamy taste of the whipped cream or chocolate contrasts perfectly with the tender, delicate custard.
Another delightful option is to serve the dessert in individual ramekins, perfect for personalizing each dish and making it a picturesque addition to any dinner party. In doing so, tocinillo de cielo can easily transition from a classic treat to an artisanal delight.
Are you still looking for more delicious Spanish desserts? Then, take a look at our comprehensive list of 40 traditional Spanish dessert recipes.
Storing and Shelf Life
Tocinillo de cielo is a delicate dessert, and proper storage is essential for maintaining its freshness and quality. When storing your tocinillo de cielo, it’s crucial to protect it from air exposure to prevent spoilage and preserve both its flavor and texture.
After cooking and allowing it to cool to room temperature, place the tocinillo de cielo in an airtight container. If it’s in a ramekin, you can cover it with plastic wrap to create an effective seal. Then, refrigerate your dessert as the cool temperature will help to prolong its shelf life.
Typically, tocinillo de cielo can last in the refrigerator for up to three to four days when stored properly. To serve, remove it from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for around ten to fifteen minutes before unmolding and plating.
For those who wish to store it for an extended period, freezing this dessert is an option. However, it’s essential to be aware that freezing may alter the texture of the custard. To freeze, use an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Store the tocinillo de cielo in the freezer, where it can last for up to one month. When you’re ready to enjoy it, defrost the dessert in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Tocinillo de cielo is a traditional Spanish dessert known for its heavenly texture and simplicity of ingredients. This delicacy has its roots in Andalusia and has been enjoyed by generations. Made primarily from egg yolks, sugar, and water, this custard-like dessert is lighter and sweeter than flan.
In conclusion, tocinillo de cielo is a time-honored dessert that showcases the versatility of simple ingredients. Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a more extensive dessert spread, this Spanish treat will surely delight anyone who can savor its heavenly goodness.
Tocinillo de Cielo Recipe
- Non-stick baking mold (around 30 cm x 12 cm)
- Big baking tray (that can fit your baking mold)
- 12 egg yolks
- 500 g sugar
- 500 ml water
For the caramel:
- 125 g sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Be very careful, and if possible, wear protective gloves when covering the inside of the baking mold with the caramel since it will be boiling.
- Add the sugar syrup as slowly as possible to the egg yolks, this will help it get incorporated quickly and smoothly, and you will end up with a soft and smooth texture.
- In a small pot, make the caramel by adding sugar and water and cooking without stirring until it gets golden brown. Transfer immediately to your baking mold and try to cover it as much as possible.
- In another pot, heat the sugar and water and slowly bring them to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook for 12 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it get cold. You should have medium-thick syrup.
- Beat the egg yolks with a hand mixer and add the syrup gradually until fully incorporated.
- Transfer the egg yolk mixture to the mold with the caramel and place it over a big baking tray. Add water until you reach about half of the height of the baking mold to make a water bath.
- Preheat the oven to 130ºC.
- Cover the mold with foil and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and let it get cold. Flip over a baking tray, slice, and serve.