Origin of Canarian bienmesabe
Bienmesabe is a typical dessert in Canarian gastronomy but its origin is actually Arabic. It arrived on the island during the archipelago’s conquest and is believed to have been adapted from a confectionary tradition originating from the south of the Peninsula. Specifically, it comes from Antequera, where it is still made today with some variations in the recipe: in the Malaga area it is more like a cake as it has a thin sponge base, unlike the Canarian version.
Although bienmesabe is prepared throughout the Canary Islands, with different versions in each kitchen, it is in La Palma where there is the greatest tradition. In fact, local confectioner Matilde Arroyo (1926-2014) was recognized in 2009 with the Gold Medal of the Canary Islands for being a pioneer in the commercialisation of this delicious dessert outside the islands.
The Canarian bienmesabe is also very popular in Tejeda, on the island of Gran Canaria, a municipality known for its almond trees. But, as is often the case, it is not always made with local almonds, due to their price, and the ingredient is often imported from places where it is cheaper to source.
Canarian bienmesabe ingredients
To prepare the Canarian bienmesabe only a few ingredients are necessary. Therefore, as we will see, its preparation is very simple. What ingredients will you need for a dessert for 4-6 people?
- 250 grammes of raw peeled almonds.
- 250 grammes of white sugar.
- 250 millilitres of water.
- 4 egg yolks.
- The zest of half a lemon.
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
Canarian bienmesabe is a dessert with a thick, unctuous and grainy texture and its elaboration is one hundred percent handmade. In addition, it does not contain preservatives, colourings, or added flavourings. Therefore, it can be prepared at home without any difficulty.
Canarian bienmesabe preparation
The preparation of Canarian bienmesabe is quite easy and will only take you about ten minutes, although you will have to wait at least another half an hour until it is cooked and cools down. How is it made?
- Grind the almonds until you have a coarse sandy texture (better to use a food processor to do this).
- Prepare the syrup. You have to bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan without stirring.
- Add the almonds, lemon zest and cinnamon when all the sugar has dissolved. To do this, reduce the heat.
- Stir constantly until it thickens. Once at this point, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool down.
- Beat the egg yolks and add them to the mixture when it is cold.
- Mix everything well and cook over a medium heat stirring continuously until you get a dense consistency.
Once the process is finished, you can place the dessert in the fridge. Canarian bienmesabe is ideal as an accompaniment to flans and ice creams, although it can be served as a complement to many other desserts and dishes. For example, it can be served on almond tarts and cakes, biscuit desserts or nougat. It can also be spread on toast or on a sponge cake as if it were jam, or even mixed with natural yogurt.