April 18, 2008

A Taste of Yellow: Tocino del cielo

Tocino del Cielo 1

My mom and I can be polar opposites when it comes to certain things. Case in point:
My mom is a walking medical encyclopedia and a frustrated pharmacist. Give her just two symptoms and she'll diagnose your problem, suggest a prescription and even give you a prognosis. You will later make a trip to the doctor who will more often than not echo mom's words and charge you for it. Regardless, doctors are her friends. And she has lots of them, most of whom she visits quite frequently. My dad likes to tease that the hospital is her second home.

And then there's me. The apple couldn't have fallen farther from the tree. The mere thought of going to the doctor gives me the heebie jeebies. Not counting the time I went to the ENT two years ago (I had a major cold/earache that threatened to ruin a trip to Mexico) the last time I was at the doctor for a check-up was at least 6 years ago. I hate the smell of hospitals and I don't like popping pills in my mouth unless they're vitamin supplements.

Although I think my mom teeters on the edge of hypochondria, it is because of this same caution and keen sense of awareness that her breast cancer was caught at an early stage. They found the lump on her left breast when she went in about a pain on her right breast. She was grief-stricken and we were in shock. Until then, our family did not have a history of breast cancer. Mom was fearful and depressed at first. But armed with unwavering faith and buoyed by a tremendous support group and prayers she trudged forth and began the gruelling battle of tests and more tests. Treks to a multitude of doctors for an opinion and a second and a third. Enduring those agonizingly long waits in between tests and results. Countless hours spent praying for the wisdom to make the right decision. And all the while trying not to break down from sheer mental exhaustion, managing to even put up a brave front.

Today, a year later, you couldn't tell that she's had a mastectomy much less cancer. She's a survivor, my mother. :) And I will forever be grateful for that! Her story, like those of other survivors, is one of hope. And a reminder of the importance of early detection. I no longer get annoyed when she nags me about going for a check-up. In fact, I'm scheduled for blood work and a mammogram next week. Yes, we can all learn a thing or two from our mothers. :)

So any chance there is to support those who are fighting the big C or to celebrate my mom and the rest of the survivors, I'm there. Which brings me to the reason for this post: to do my share for the LiveSTRONG Lance Armstrong Foundation via A Taste of Yellow, an event founded and organized by Barbara of Winos and Foodies to promote cancer awareness around the world via the blogging community. Thank you, Barbara, for being the kind and generous person that you are and for hosting an event that gives us an opportunity to show our support and to help promote awareness and hope! :)

I first heard about this event from Joey when she participated last year and I had wanted to join but didn't make it on time. This year though, I had to. The idea is to make a dish using any yellow food and the submitting it for the round up to be posted on LiveSTRONG day falling on the 13th of May this year. So for LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow 2008, I am submitting my mom's Tocino del Cielo recipe. If you don't already know, tocino del cielo literally means bacon of heaven. Well! If that doesn't sound decadent, I don't know what does! But there isn't any bacon in it. It's primary ingredient is egg yolk, lots and lots of egg yolk.

Since this post is already too long, I won't go into details about this dessert here, instead I will point you into the direction of Santos' post about tocino del cielo where you can learn more about it and ogle her stunning photos. This dessert is not for the faint-hearted. I had wanted to make something a little healthier (ie: cha ca la vong - wait for it!) for this health-related event but I didn't have anymore fish in the icebox and I was already trying to beat the deadline with this entry.

Something as rich and delicious as this should come with a license!

Tocino del Cielo 2

Tocino del Cielo

(Egg yolk custard)

3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 Tbsp vanilla

For the syrup:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar

Separate 6 egg yolks from the whites (keep the egg whites for a nice healthy scrambled egg breakfast the next morning). Whisk the yolks and whole egg together.

In a saucepan, boil water and sugar in until syrupy, then set aside to cool.

In another saucepan, boil the brown sugar in water until caramelized. Use this syrup to line the tin molds you'll be using. Whisk the egg yolks and the 1 whole egg together, then stir in the cooled syrup. Strain the mixture before spooning into the molds. Arrange the molds in a bain marie where the water comes halfway up the molds then let it cook in the oven for 4o-50 minutes or until it's set.

Remove from the oven andleave to cool for a bit before unmolding. When ready, slide a clean knife around the edges to loosen it up. Slowly turn it over on individual plates or paper cups, letting the syrup drizzle over the tocino del cielos.

Makes 6 individual servings.

A cousin of mine passed away very recently after struggling with his cancer for a long time. He suffered profoundly and he was way too young (only 36!), but now he is at peace. He was an advocate of the LiveSTRONG foundation. Like Lance Armstrong (who incidentally visited him while he was in the hospital in NY) he too was a professional triathlete and cyclist who succumbed to testicular cancer. So I'd also like to dedicate this post to his memory and to the family he left behind.


Anonymous said...

Tocino del Cielo remind me of those little thingies in Dulcinea that fascinate me when i was a kid....:)

Ruy said...

A very worthy cause!
Cancer is truly a disease to recon with. Like the HP dementors who suck out all happiness and hope till their victims succumb, Cancer does the same physically, emotionally and financially...
Unless the victims succesfully fight back.
Faith, knowledge, positive reinforcement and hope are the keys I believe and these events are bright rays of sunshine that help do the trick.
Your tocino del cielo I believe is well picked and brings that positive message across wonderfully (bacon of heaven!) like a charm.

Expecto patronum!;p

katrina said...

I'm sorry about your cousin. Too, too young! And an athlete pa! :-(

But I'm glad to hear your mom's doing wonderfully now. And that very happy-looking tocino del cielo is a fitting tribute. :-)

christine said...

Hi Sakai! You're right. :) Incidentally, I'm actually used to the tocino del cielo of my grandmother which looked like golden thimbles but I couldn't find that mold.

I couldn't have said it better, Ruy. Thank you! :)

Thanks, Katrina. :) I was hoping it would be.

isabelle said...

My mom went through the same ordeal, and like yours, is one hell of a survivor!

Oh my, Cyril was your cousin? I was so saddened by the news of his illness when I first heard about it a few years back and even more so when I heard of his demise from Margaret, Myra's sister. It really is such a pity. Who would've thought that someone as active and healthy as he could would suffer from it, and at such a young age?

Veron said...

I'm glad your mom is doing fine. When I saw tocino del cielo ...I was scratching my head expecting tosino... but then I love all-yolk custards!

ScroochChronicles said...

Yum!! I've always liked tocino del cielo more than leche flan. Didn't Red Ribbon carry these treats many years ago (like in the 80's)? I just love the chewiness of this dessert. My next fave would be yema (the ones from Choc'-full-of-Nuts in Greenhills).

My condolences to your family. My dad also succumbed to cancer 2 years ago. We're still reeling from the 5-month long battle. It's a long and slow recovery but we're getting there :)

mtan said...

That's the tastiest tribute I've ever seen, Nena. Hope your mom's doing well.

christine said...

Hi Isabelle, yes Cyril is my cousin. So true, it only goes to prove cancer does not choose. It no longer matters whether your family has a history or not, how active, healthy you are. It comes like a thief in the night.

Cookie, I don't remember the ones of Red Ribbon, but I'm a yema lover like you. That's why I love brazo de mercedes so much especially if it's stuffed well with yema. :) I'm sorry about your dad, Cookie. I hope you're all ok. Keep the faith!

christine said...

Thanks Mila, she is! :) So far so good.

Barbara said...

That looks fabulous Christine. Your Mum sounds wonderful and I'm glad she is well. Thanks for supporting LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellwo.

Senor Enrique said...

Awesome photography. You made the Tocino del Cielo really look so tempting.

Am very sorry to hear about your cousin.

christine said...

Thank you, Barbara! :)

Hi Eric, thank you. For the compliment and for extending your sympathies. :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Brazil was once a Portuguese colony and tocino del cielo is very traditional in Portugal and here (we call it "toucinho do céu"). Yours looks so beautiful and vibrant!

ChichaJo said...

Great post Nens! I'm so happy your mom is doing well...she is such a jolly person :) You have a wonderful family!

I told K and another rower friend about Cyril, they remember him too from rowing...so sad...nice tribute...

That tocino looks gorgeous! This is one of Anj's faves...she would faint if she saw this photo!

christine said...

toucinho do céu Oh I can imagine how that's said, Patricia! I don't know if I've mentioned this before but the Portuguese language is one of my favorites. :) So did this originate in Portugal? Or Spain?

Aww thanks, Jo! That's so sweet of you to say, and I have to agree with you. :) We are the Adams Family accdg to some, but I love each of us to bits! haha BTW, if any of your friends would like to pay their respects, Cyril's ashes will be in San Antonio starting May 4. I'll be heading over after Tati's baptism with my folks.

Lori said...

Hi Christine,
I haven't been here in a long while. My goodness, that tocino del cielo is the devil! I think of my mom whenever I see these golden orbs because they're her favorite dessert. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

christine said...

Hey Lori, what a nice surprise. You're welcome, I hope it's to your liking. :)

Anonymous said...

I was looking for a Tocino del cielo recipe and I've found out yours. I read your dedication and it shook me. I'm right 36 as your cousin that passed away. We don't know when it's our time but in the meantime we have to love, learn and enjoy this gift. Thank you for your recipe.

christine said...

Anonymous, thank you for your comment and your inspiring words. You're so right. :)

depression support group said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe and for sharing your cousin's story.

Anonymous said...

i like tocino del cielo..

Catherine said...

I'd never understood what this was, till I saw it on a menu in this restaurant I work. Really interesting dessert, when done right, Great recipe! soooo DELICIOUS!
I linked back to your site from my post.

Beautiful dedication, was really moving. Thanks for sharing your story and recipes!

Juegos de Ben 10 said...

i love tocino.