There's no doubt this heavenly dessert by chef Alejandro Saravia is a labour of love. Fortunately, most of the components need to be prepared the day before, so you'll be looking cool, calm and collected as you watch your guests swoon. At his restaurant, Alejandro serves this dessert with marinated cherries.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (19 votes)


  • 250 g (1 cups) self-raising flour 
  • 1½ tsp baking powder 
  • 3 eggs
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar 
  • 300 ml thickened cream
  • 2 x 395 g cans condensed milk 
  • 2 x 375 ml cans evaporated milk
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 2 cloves 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 

Berry sorbet

  • 500 g strawberries, hulled, halved
  • 125 g blueberries
  • 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Manjar blanco (sweetened milk caramel)

  • 375 ml can evaporated milk
  • 395 g can condensed milk
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 cinnamon quills (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp corn syrup or honey
  • 1 small custard apple, peeled, seeded or 2 small granny smith apples and 2 tbsp caster sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Freezing time 10 hours
Chilling time overnight
Cooling time 30 minutes

Canned dulce de leche, from selected delis, can be substituted for the manjar blanco. Start this recipe a day ahead to make the sorbet, and allow cake to soak.

DRINK 2010 Primitivo Quiles Moscatel, Alicante, Spain

To make sorbet, blend berries to a purée. Strain, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Place 375 ml water, sugar, lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt in a pan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add fruit purée and stir to combine. Pour into a 1 litre-capacity freezer-proof container and freeze for 6 hours or until frozen. Remove sorbet from container, roughly chop, then pulse in a blender until slushy. Return to container, cover surface with plastic wrap and freeze for a further 4 hours or until frozen. Keep frozen for up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 170°C. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar for 15 minutes or until creamy and mixture has reached the ribbon stage (see Note).

Whisk cream to soft peaks in a bowl. In 3 batches, fold into flour, alternating with egg mixture, until just combined. Pour into a greased, lined 23 cm deep square cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and the cake comes away from the sides of the pan.

Meanwhile, place condensed and evaporated milks, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla in a pan over medium heat. Heat for 5 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Using a fork, pierce cake several times, then pour milk mixture over hot cake; discard cloves. Cover cake with baking paper and place a heavy weight on top. Refrigerate overnight.

To make manjar blanco, place evaporated and condensed milks, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, if using, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Discard cinnamon quills and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking occasionally for 30 minutes, then continuously for a further 15 minutes or until mixture turns golden and is very thick; to check, drag a spoon along base of saucepan. You should see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before mixture closes in on itself. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and corn syrup. Cool.

Meanwhile, blend custard apple to a purée. Alternatively, peel and finely chop apples and place in a saucepan with 80 ml water and sugar. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes or until softened. Purée and strain. Stir purée into manjar blanco.

Cut cake into 12 squares. Cut each square in half horizontally. Cover the base of a frying pan with baking paper and heat over high heat. Working in 4 batches, cook cake slices, turning, for 4 minutes or until golden.

Spoon 1 tsp manjar blanco in the centre of plates. Top with a piece of cake, then 1 tbsp manjar blanco and another slice of cake. Serve with berry sorbet on the side.


• To check if your mixture has reached the "ribbon stage", lift your whisk from mixture and do a figure-of-8; if the "8" sits on top of the mixture like a ribbon for 8 seconds before settling back into it, you have reached the ribbon stage.


Photography by Alan Benson.