Espumillas are a popular Ecuadorian street food, the word espumilla means foam. These delicious guava meringue cream desserts are made with fruit pulp, typically guava o guayaba, egg whites and sugar. It’s very common to find street vendors selling espumillas at the exit of most schools in Ecuador. You can also find them outside of the fruit markets in many cities and at most main plazas on the weekends or holidays. Espumillas look like ice-cream and are sold in ice cream cones. This traditional Ecuadorian dessert can be confusing for tourists or those who are not familiar with them. The first time my husband saw them on the street, he asked me “how do they keep that ice-cream from melting?”
Espumillas are a fun to make dessert that we would typically make with family and friends after school or on weekend get-togethers. Usually the entire process of making espumillas is done by hand and using a fork to mash the fruit and then the same fork to beat the egg whites until the espumillas have the right texture. For this espumilla recipe, I simplified it and made the process easier by using an electric mixer to beat the egg whites, but if you feel like your arm needs a massive work-out feel free to do it by hand. I also tried two different methods for peeling and removing the seeds from the guavas. You only need the meaty part of the fruit and the way it is done in Ecuador is to peel each fruit and then remove the seeds. The second way to do it, also known as Laylita’s lazy carishina method, is to put the guavas in the blender until they are pureed and then strain it. I joke about being lazy, but I feel like you waste a lot of the fruit by doing it the traditional way, and that by straining the blender puree you only get rid of the unnecessary bits. The espumilla texture will be coarser if you used the first way of pureeing the fruit – which is what you would usually get with homemade espumillas – and smoother if you used the blender process.
The most common flavor for espumillas is guava, which we call guayaba in Ecuador. You can also make them with other fruits such as banana, strawberry, mora or blackberry, naranjilla, passion fruit, etc. Guavas work great also because they have a consistency that thickens nicely with the egg whites and sugar. If you make espumillas with fruits that don’t have the same texture then you might need to add some unflavored gelatin to the fruit pulp – in fact, the extra spongy ones that are sold on the streets usually have gelatin in them. Homemade espumillas on the other hand don’t usually have the gelatin, it’s more of an eat and make immediately dessert. Some of the espumillas sold by the street vendors also usually have food coloring added to give the meringue cream more color. As you can see with these guava espumillas, even though the guava flesh is pink the end result is still a white-ish cream.
Espumillas are typically served garnished with an Ecuadorian blackberry syrup called arrope de mora, as well as some sprinkles or coconut flakes. To make the arrope, blend a cup of moras or Andean blackberries with ½ cup of water, strain the mix, and then cook it for about 30 minutes with ½ cup of sugar and a dash a lemon juice.
Espumillas are a a popular street food in Ecuador, this dessert is a meringue cream made with fruit pulp, typically guava or guayaba, egg whites and sugar.
- 8 ripe guavas or guayabas – if you can’t find fresh guavas you can get them frozen in Latin grocery stores and defrost them
- 1 - 1 ½ cups sugar, adjust based on your preference, you can start with 1 cup and then taste and add more if needed
- 2 egg whites
- Garnishes: Arrope or berry syrup, sprinkles and/or coconut flakes
- Peel the guavas -they should be very soft and ripe- with a vegetable peeler. Remove the seeds and just keep the meaty flesh parts. Put the guava pieces in a large bowl and mix it with sugar until everything is pureed. You can use a fork or a vegetable masher for this part.
- The alternative method is to cut the guavas in halves, place them in the blender (no water), and blend until you have a puree. Then strain the puree and use an electric blender to mix in the sugar.
- Add the egg whites to the guava and sugar puree, mix using the electric mixer until you have stiff creamy texture. As mentioned the texture will be coarser if you made the guava puree by hand and smoother if it was done in the blender.
- Serve immediately in ice cream bowls or ice cream cones, drizzle with the arrope or berry sauce and sprinkles or coconut flakes.