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Espumilla: Ecuadorian Meringue Cream Dessert

When my friend Michelle told me about espumilla, a traditional Ecuadorian dessert that she ate in Cuenca, Ecuador, I was intrigued.

You’ll see espumillas being sold on the corners of the plaza or outside of churches. They look like ice cream that never melts, but don’t be fooled! It’s actually a soft meringue served in a cone. Espumilla de guayaba (guava) and espumilla de mora (blackberry) are the most popular flavors.

Meringue that looks like ice cream? Sure, why not! Let’s give this Ecuadorian food a try!

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You've got to try Espumilla - a traditional meringue dessert from Ecuador!

I’ve made espumillas a few times now and it’s a deliciously light and fluffy meringue that only takes a few minutes to make. It’s a treat that Ecuadorian kids love!

You’ll find the recipe below but first, take a look at this short video to see how espumillas are traditionally made (by hand!) and served in Ecuador (in an ice cream cone!).

By the way, the video is in Spanish but you don’t need to understand the words for the video to make sense.

How to Make Espumilla

I’ve made espumilla a couple different ways. I’ll first share the more traditional way to make espumilla, then I’ll tell you my preferred method.

Here’s the simple (and more traditional) espumilla recipe. First, you want to puree the fruit. You can use a variety of fruit in your espumilla but some fruit, such as guava or banana, naturally provide a thicker texture. As Michelle said, in Ecuador, guava and blackberry are popular flavors. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find guava at the store so I used mango. It doesn’t naturally provide the texture that guava does but it tasted great!

You’ll notice in the photo collage below that I used a potato masher to puree my mango. It worked fine but I did lose some of the fruit when I pushed it through a sieve. You can also use a food processor to puree your fruit.

The next step is to mix in the sugar, stir until dissolved, and then run the puree through a sieve. If you used a food processor, you can probably skip the sieve.

The final step is to begin whipping the egg whites. I used a stand mixer but you can use a hand mixer or beat the egg whites with a whisk. Add the fruit mixture a little at a time while continuing to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Serve immediately in a cone or cup. Top with sprinkles, shredded coconut or a drizzle of fruit puree.

Espumilla Ecuadorian Meringue Cream Dessert

Here’s how I prefer to make espumilla. 

The first couple times I made espumilla it tasted great but didn’t look like the photos I’d found online – it was more foam-like than ice cream-like.

And…there’s the raw egg white issue. From what I read, raw egg whites don’t pose that much risk to a healthy person, but some people aren’t comfortable taking even a small risk when it comes to raw eggs.

I tried making espumilla with pasteurized liquid egg whites but it didn’t whip up very well (adding gelatin might help?). I also tried making a meringue where the egg whites are cooked before whipping into a meringue, but that didn’t turn out very well, either.

So, if you’d like a thicker “ice cream look” and don’t want to eat straight up raw egg whites, here’s what I recommend. First, use very fresh eggs, wash the eggs before cracking, and follow other guidelines outlined here. Then do this… (full recipe is below):

  1. Heat 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup water to 240 F.
  2. Whip the egg whites and the fruit puree to stiff peaks.
  3. Slowly pour the hot simple syrup into the egg whites. Keep the mixer going as you do this. Mix on high until thick, stiff peaks form.
  4. Serve in a cone or a dish with sprinkles and/or a drizzle of any remaining fruit puree.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the results of both methods:

Espumilla Ecuadorian Meringue Cream Dessert

The espumilla on the left is the result of the basic recipe that uses raw egg whites. The espumilla on the right is the result of the recipe that incorporates hot simple syrup.

As you can see, the espumilla on the left came out lighter and more foam-like. It also deflated quickly. The espumilla on the right came out denser and more ice cream-like. It also stayed fluffy longer. If you’re nervous about raw eggs or want to serve espumilla in a cone, try adding the hot simple syrup.

Let me know which one you try!

Espumilla Ecuadorian Meringue Cream

Espumilla Ecuadorian Meringue Cream

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A light and fluffy meringue cream dessert that's a traditional favorite in Ecuador! 

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup fruit (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups sugar (divided)
  • 1/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. Puree the fruit. (I used a potato masher but you can also use a food processor.) Add 1 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Push mixture through a sieve. 
  2. Heat water and 1 cup sugar on the stove to 240 F. 
  3. Begin whipping egg whites (I used the whisk attachment and a stand mixer). Slowly add the fruit puree and whip to stiff peaks (or as close as you can get). This may take several minutes. 
  4. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the meringue. Keep the mixer going while you do this. Whip the meringue to stiff peaks. 
  5. Serve the espumilla immediately in a cone or bowl. Top with sprinkles, shredded coconut or a drizzle of left-over fruit puree. Enjoy!

Notes

For the best texture, use fresh guava or banana. You can also use other fruit, such as mango, blackberry, raspberry, lemon, etc. If you use frozen fruit, defrost it before you puree it. 

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Ellie Hill

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Another school presentation question, how long do you think this could go unrefridgerated, would it last half an hour or would you just recommend against that. Or would it lose its shape if I were to make it the night before and refrigerate it overnight?

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Thursday 6th of May 2021

To be on the safe side, I recommend serving it right after you make it. It might work to make it the night before and then refrigerate it until serving but it could also deflate overnight. I haven't tried that, so I can't say for sure...but I think it might work. I highly recommend testing it ahead of time and seeing how it looks after being in the fridge all night. Let me know if it works!

Sötsaker du aldrig hört talas om – Fikabox.se

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

[…] också användas, såsom citron, banan, mango, hallon och björnbär. Traditionellt så serveras Espumilla i glasstrutar och toppas med strössel, strimlad kokosnöt eller sirap som kallas ”arrope de […]

11 Traditional Ecuadorian Foods & Dishes You Must Try | Travel Food Atlas

Sunday 12th of April 2020

[…] Espumillas recipe. […]

Shanoya

Saturday 14th of March 2020

Is there a way to store this for a couple hours without refrigeration. I wanted to make some For my Spanish class at school, but I doubt it would last

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Saturday 14th of March 2020

I wouldn't let it sit unrefrigerated. Is there any way you could make it in class?

10 Must-Try Colombian Desserts and Sweets - International Desserts Blog - Recipes with a sprinkle of travel

Thursday 5th of March 2020

[…] How to make Ecuadorian espumilla  […]

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