Mucho Gusto

Sopaipillas: The Famous Chilean Winter Treat

Having lived the first few years of my life in Chile, there are a couple of memories that come to mind. One of the most prominent being all the snowy (or rainy) winter evenings spent eating sopaipillas as a family. It was our favorite thing as kids, whenever the weather was gloomy or the streets were covered in snow, because we knew that meant a trip to “Los Saldes”, our favorite bakery. As soon as we heard our dad’s car pull up to the driveway we would rush to the door and jump up and down in anticipation. He would walk into the house, greet us with a bear hug, put his work bag on the counter, and off to “Los Saldes” we went. 

The bakery was always packed: as if getting sopaipillas on a cold winter day was a nation-wide family tradition – which it was in a way. Sopaipillas, a fried squash pastry dusted with powdered sugar, is a common Chilean comfort food during the winter. After school or work chileans everywhere rush home or to a bakery to eat the famous winter treat. When we lived in Chile, “Los Saldes” was our tradition, but once we moved to Perú and couldn’t find our country’s treat in any of the bakeries, a new tradition was born where I would make sopaipillas for our family at home. And let me tell you, the winter pick-me-up is a pretty simple recipe to make. 


500 g squash

500 g wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit 
  2. Wash the squash thoroughly and remove the seeds. 
  3. Chop the squash into big chunks and place it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through
  4. Remove the squash from the oven and blend it until you obtain a puree
  5. Place the puree in a bowl and set aside to cool
  6. In another bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder and mix to combine
  7. Incorporate the squash puree and the melted butter into the flour mixture
  8. With your hands, unify all the ingredients until a smooth dough forms
  9. Form a ball and place in a covered bowl to rise
  10. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes
  11. Once the dough has risen, knead it on a clean and floured surface 
  12. Stretch the dough with a rolling pin until it is about half a centimeter thick
  13. With a glass or a circular mold, cut out circular shapes
  14. Add vegetable oil to a pan and put it on medium heat
  15. Fry the sopaipillas until golden or about two minutes per side
  16. Place the fried sopaipillas on a sheet of paper to absorb excess oil
  17. Dust the sopaipillas with powered sugar and enjoy!
Mucho Gusto

Peruvian Turron de Doña Pepa

October: the month of purple, El Señor de los Milagros, and of course el infaltable “Turrón de Doña Pepa”.

In the mid-seventeenth century, two earthquakes devastated the region of Lima, Perú, crumbling every building in sight except for a single wall built out of adobe. The wall stood tall amongst the ocean of debris, raising a multitude of questions in the local community. 

Why was it that a wall built out of a rather weak material stood, whilst the rest of its building and those surrounding it collapsed completely? 

The wall in question had been built as part of a church for the Pachacamilla community located on the outskirts of Lima, and on it contained the now-famed mural of Crucified Jesus painted by  Angolan slave, Pedro Dalcon. However, this mural homaged a version of Jesus the Spaniards were not used to seeing: a darker version, one that resembled the artist and the community in which the wall stood. Therefore, in the 32-year time period between the two earthquakes, there were many failed attempts to remove the mural that Spanish authorities had thought neglected religious norms. 

It was a miracle, the people of Pachacamilla thought, that this single wall was the only structure to survive the two catastrophic earthquakes that struck their region whilst simultaneously evading removal by Spanish authorities. And so the news of the phenomenon spread across all of Perú like wildfire. Peruvians everywhere indeed deemed it to be a miracle, one performed by none other than the deity in the mural, el Cristo de Pachacamilla, better known as “El Señor de Los Milagros”

The Pachacamilla community held ceremonies in tribute to The Lord of Miracles every Friday ever since the second earthquake struck on October 20th, 1687. People from all regions of Perú would travel to Pachacamilla to gift Him flowers and all sorts of offerings to pray for a miracle. Amongst the usual attendees, stood doña Josefa Marmanillo, a slave from the Cañete region in the south of Perú.  

Doña Josefa Marmanillo was an extremely highly regarded cook within her community, when suddenly she was afflicted by a puzzling disease that is the worst nightmare of cooks everywhere: paralysis in both of her arms. 

Devastated, Doña Josefa Marmanillo, otherwise known as Doña Pepa, made her way to Pachacamilla, where she prayed to El Señor de los Milagros. It was then, during the month of October, that Doña Pepa instantly regained the mobility of both her arms. Out of immense gratitude for granting her wish, she decided to make good use of the miracle and craft a new dessert devoted to the Lord of the Miracles – and so, el Turrón de Doña Pepa was born. A buttery and crumbly yet moist crumb covered in a deep complex honey with hints of anise seed and on top lay her staple sprinkles of all shapes and sizes. 

Thankful, Doña Pepa would return to visit the Lord of the Miracles every Friday night, bringing batches of her famous Turrón to share with the local community. Soon after that, her dessert had become a local staple and has now transformed into a treat Peruvian households impatiently await to enjoy as soon as the clock strikes twelve on the first of October. 



1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon anise seeds

500 grams all-purpose flour

250 grams butter 

5 egg yolks

½ cup anise tea

½ teaspoon salt


2 cups water 

2 cinnamon sticks 

3 cloves 

1 apple (diced)

1 orange (cut in half with peel)

250 grams Chancaca

1 fig leaf

10 gram fresh strawberries (diced)

2 Membrillos (diced)

1 cup sugar



Parchment paper

Sheet pan

22×22 centimeter casserole serving dish



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F 
  2. Toast the sesame and anise seeds on the stovetop on medium-low for 2 minutes
  3. Beat the butter until fluffy and add the toasted sesame and anise seeds
  4. Gradually fold the all-purpose flour into the butter mixture until fully incorporated
  5. Add a pinch of salt and incorporate the egg yolks one at a time
  6. Slowly add the anise tea while mixing the dough. The dough should not stick to your hands and should be manageable.
  7. Divide the dough into 22-gram pieces and roll them into 25-centimeter-long logs
  8. Place parchment paper on the oven pan and start placing the logs in the sheet pan
  9. With a spatula, slightly flatten the logs
  10. Cook the dough in the preheated oven for 15 minutes (flip the dough after the first 10 minutes)
  11. Remove dough from the oven and put aside


  1. In a pot, pour the water and add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, membrillo, apple, orange, fig leaf, strawberries, and chancaca. Let cook on medium low for 25 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture and transfer to a new pot
  3. Add the sugar and let reduce on medium-low for 30 minutes
  4. Turn off the heat and let the honey mixture cool. It should reach a stretchy caramel consistency. 


  1. Add parchment paper to the bottom of the serving dish
  2. Place the logs of baked dough in the same direction across the serving dish. Should the logs of baked dough be longer than the serving dish, break off the ends
  3. Add a layer of honey
  4. Place another layer of dough logs in the perpendicular direction
  5. Add another layer of honey
  6. Repeat until you run out of dough
  7. Finish with a substantial layer of honey on top
  8. Add decorative sprinkles
  9. Let honey settle before serving

Cover photo courtesy of Vital