Suspiro (Meringue Icing for Dominican Cake) is the poetic name given to meringue in our country, the perfect icing for our divine national cake.
Some of our foods have very poetic names that at first impression bears no resemblance to the actual food at hand: Suspiro (Meringue Icing for Dominican Cake) seems to be one of those. Suspiro means "sigh" in Spanish.
Once past the first impression, this fluffy-as-a-cloud icing seems to have found its perfect name. In other Spanish-speaking countries, this is known as merengue (meringue), a confusing state of affairs, as Merengue is the Dominican Republic's national music.
What is Suspiro?
To be more specific, suspiro is nothing else than "Italian Meringue", and bears some resemblance to Royal Icing. It is made with egg whites.
The resulting meringue has firm peaks, but a smooth texture, perfect for covering cakes and making elaborate decorations. Depending on the amount of sugar added, the suspiro will remain soft but with firm peaks, or will start to harden after a few hours. Unfortunately, the latter means that it will contain so much sugar as to get past my tolerance level.
In this recipe, I've incorporated some techniques that I've tested and yielded a meringue that is firm, but not sickly sweet.
Though I'm not sure why this technique was first used, adding boiling caramel to the egg whites has the fortunate side effect of decreasing the chance of salmonella contamination, a small but worrying possibility whenever we consume raw eggs. If you find pasteurized eggs where you live, I suggest you use those instead.
If you're looking for an easier alternative to suspiro, you can use powdered royal icing (affiliate link), just follow the instructions in the package.
The amount of suspiro this recipe yields is enough to cover the half-pound cake in our recipe, if you wish to decorate further, please double the recipe.
Suspiro Recipe (Meringue Icing for Dominican Cake)
- 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
- 4 tablespoon of superfine powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar or lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
- Making the caramel: Mix granulated sugar, cream of tartar, and water. Boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer (Amazon affiliate link) -I do recommend using one- boil until it reaches 112 °C [235 °F]. If you do not have a thermometer, boil until it reaches a syrup consistency (It will be thick but still a light color, see notes)
- Whisking egg whites: In the meantime, using the stand mixer wire attachment, whisk the egg whites for 30 seconds at low speed. Increase speed to medium and whisk until they become white and has doubled and formed peaks (about 3 mins).
- Adding caramel: Slowly, and in a thin stream, pour the caramel into the bowl while whisking over high speed until it forms very firm peaks (about 5 mins).
- Finishing: Add the vanilla extract, and once incorporated, the powdered sugar, whisk until it's combined. The meringue should have firm peaks, and some of the meringue has "climbed" into the center of the wire whisk.
- Storing: It can last a few hours well covered and refrigerated. If you notice that it starts to form a crust, add a few drops of lime juice, and incorporate with a spatula.