Thinking about tocinillo de cielo (sometimes referred to as heavenly custard in English) takes us back to Sunday lunches with the family when these traditional sweets were brought to the table at the end of the meal. Who could resist? Impossible to have a coffee without at least a couple of them.
However, although we all know the flavour of a tocinillo de cielo well, we don’t know much about how to make them and even less about where they come from. Bright orangey yellow in colour, there are three main ingredients in these mini custards: egg, sugar and water. They are quite simple to make, but it requires skill and patience for them to turn out like the tocino of our childhood.
So, we’re better off leaving it up to the team at Pastry Factory, which is always working to perfect the original recipe, and focusing on the history of tocinillo.
This dessert dates back 693 years, to 1324 when it was made for the first time by the nuns at the Convento de Espíritu Santo in Jerez de la Frontera. Although they have nothing to do with each other, the origin of these sweets was closely tied to the winemaking process. Around that time, egg whites were used to clarify wine and then discarded. Thousands of yolks piled up in tubs and no one knew what to do with them. Until the nuns at the Convento de Espíritu Santo came up with a solution. After the clarification process, the yolks were taken to the nuns. They quickly saw a culinary opportunity, making sweets that, years later, would occupy a noteworthy place among Spanish desserts. They came to be called ‘tocinillos de cielo’ because of their appearance, texture and religious origins.
Although it is easy to find them today in any pastry shop or supermarket, tocino de cielo is a very typical sweet in one region of Spain: Andalusia. It is commonly found not only in the city it originates from, Jerez de la Frontera, but also Cádiz, Palencia, La Rioja and Asturias.
Along with flan and coconut balls, tocinillo de cielo is one of the top specialties of Pastry Factory.