Around the World in 80 Plates: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is it: The final stop on our edible adventure. It’s been quite a journey, tasting our way through nearly a dozen unique cuisines, and racking up just as many recipes as souvenirs.  Converting a different palate of flavors into a vegan plated dessert every week has proven more difficult than I initially envisioned, but it’s impossible to imagine having approached the challenge any other way. To think, that I would have once considered adding savory dishes into the mix! I guess that’s just not what comes most naturally to my sweet-toothed disposition. So, for a grand finale to cap off a feast of world travel, we’ve arrived at last in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

While I’d like to say that I’m well acquainted with the culture and the fine nuances in the indigenous edibles, the truth is that I spent about 15 minutes just trying to pronounce “Uruguay” correctly. Sure, it doesn’t seem so complicated, but for some reason I could just not wrap my tongue around all of those consecutive vowels. Luckily, it turns out that one of the most popular desserts there is much easier to swallow.

Postre chajá, a layered affair involving sponge cake, peaches, whipped cream, and meringue is actually named after a type of bird. Somehow the fluffy dessert made its inventor think of this feathered creature, however inexplicably, and the name has remained intact since. Though the combination of flavors and textures immediately grabbed me, inspiration for my final dessert didn’t come until the last minute. Rather than simply creating an elegant, bite-sized version of the original, it suddenly became clear that I had all the components here for a baked Alaska to remember.

Tender rounds of vanilla cake are topped with a dome of creamy peach ice cream. The whole stack is smothered in my foamy eggless meringue, doused in high-octane spirits, and promptly set ablaze. Admittedly, I hit a snag at this stage and had to resort to the trusty kitchen torch for a more even browning, but the little cakes can easily be tossed into a fast oven should the meringue need a bit more of a crisp. The quickly melting interior is revealed after slicing each snowy peak in half, and the plate is completed with slices of soft peaches and a simple fresh peach sauce. In fact, the sauce is so simple that I didn’t measure a thing. Two whole, ripe peaches went into the blender along with agave to taste, and just enough non-dairy milk to puree. It’s a fittingly sweet note to end this series on.

The final episode of Around the World in 80 Plates airs this Wednesday at 10/9c on Bravo. Who will win, and what will they cook? Don’t miss the culmination of this whirlwind trip across the globe!

Postre Chajá Baked Alaska

Vanilla Cake
Peach Melba Ice Cream, Minus Raspberry Ripple (Vegan a la Mode, page 164)
Meringue (Vegan Desserts, page 191)

80-Proof or Greater Rum, Brandy, or Vodka
Sliced Fresh Peaches
Lightly Sweetened Peach Puree, if Desired

To put the baked Alaska together, freeze the freshly churned and still soft peach ice cream into silicon hemisphere molds. Let them set up solidly in the freeze; at least 4 hours. Meanwhile, slice out rounds of cake with 2 3/4-inch circular cookie cutters. Line the pieces up on a small tray, and chill thoroughly in the fridge.

When you’re ready to serve, top each round of cake with a hemisphere of ice cream, and smooth a generous coating of meringue all over. Make sure that you seal the edge where the cake meets the plate, to prevent heat from getting in and melting the ice cream too soon. Sprinkle each meringue-covered dessert with alcohol, and use a long match to set each on fire. Once the flames burn out, quickly slice the towers in half, and plate each half with a few fresh peach slices and a smear of peach puree, if desired. Eat immediately!

Makes about 6 Servings

For participating in this competition, Bravo has compensated me for my time, but all recipes and opinions are solely my own.

22 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Plates: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

  1. I have been so amazed by each and every one of your desserts! Not only have they been plated to perfection, but they sound amazing! This one is no exception. Way to go out with a bang!

  2. You are crazy !
    OMG i’m jalous oh yeah very jalous to this pastry !

    Bravo Hannah c’est spectaculaire et somptueux ! Je suis admirative, on ne pourrait pas penser que c’est vegan tellement c’est parfait ♥

  3. Wednesdays are my fave night of TV b/c of 80 Plates – don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s done. Sniff.

    This looks awesome and how you got the layers so PERFECT – food artwork!

  4. When I made your meringues as cookies, after I baked them I ended up with an unpleasant raw vanilla taste which I suppose was my fault, and a really off-putting starchy goo-ball in the center of a chalky powdery outside. They looked like real meringues, but I ended up throwing out the full batch.

    Does this quality transfer over to this raw meringue application?

    1. It sounds like your oven might be running a bit hot, which would cause the outsides to finish baking before the insides could set up. You might have better luck if you try turning down the oven by 25 degrees, and giving the meringues an additional 10 minutes or so.

      For this baked Alaska version, the meringue isn’t raw since it’s either cooked by the flame or toasted by a kitchen torch. If you’re concerned about it tasting raw on the inner layer, just try to spread it onto the ice cream and cake very thinly.

  5. Gosh, that is a gorgeous dessert! The peachy colors paired with that pretty blue plate really make it pop! It sounds delicious too, I have been eating peaches nonstop lately. :)

  6. Cheers Hannah…now I have to go and buy a new keyboard as this one has been ruined by all of the drooly slobbering that I just did thanks to your amazing recipe… oh well…the dog has been trying to get this one for quite some time now… its a win-win situation for all! ;)

  7. Oh Hannah…always so nice your desserts…like the pear dessert and so tasty with rum.
    Again, thank you for this wonderful dessert and inspiration.
    Hope you are having a great week :)

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