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Taste of Uruguay: peach meringue cake

I had a fabulous dessert for Noche Buena that made me want to go back to Uruguay and track it down: Chaja, a Uruguayan peach meringue cake that is a cousin to a trifle. It’s sponge cake brushed with rum-spiked peach syrup then layered with crisp meringue, peaches, dulce de leche and huge quantities of whipped cream. The proportion of less-than-solid ingredients to cake are such that it was structurally unsound. The cake came wound in a wide strip of plastic that acted as a girdle and helped the cake hold its shape. But after the plastic was removed and a few slices cut, the cake slumped to the side, which is when it began to resemble trifle. No matter. It was still delicious. Here’s a recipe that sounds very much like the version we had. Note that this recipe says the layer of dulce de leche is optional. Don’t skip the dulce de leche! In addition, our chaja was topped with slices of mandarin orange and dollops of more dulce de leche. Heaven! I was in Uruguay last year and just wish I’d known about it then. I may have to make a return trip.

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