Filipino breakfast—dasilog, tocilog, and the like—is a festive affair at Manny’s, complete with slice of cake for dessert. Quite often it’s purple ube cake complete with purple frosting. Purple birthday cake should be a part of every complete breakfast! The other morning as I finished an up an order of longsilog—fatty pork sausage with two eggs and garlic rice—I prepared to attack the day’s dessert. It appeared to be meringue rolled around some sort of custard.
And that’s exactly what it was: light fluffy meringue rolled around a sweet eggy custard. An entire Brazo de Mercedes, as it’s called, will run you $16. The name, which means “arm of Our Lady of Mercy,” and the dessert’s origin date back to the days when The Philippines was a Spanish colony. The story goes that egg whites were used to make plaster for churches. Rather than see all the discarded yolks go to waste somebody decided to use them in a dessert. I don’t know if that story is true or not, but one thing’s certain. Brazo de Mercedes eats like a cloud wrapped around sugary sunshine.
Manny’s Bake Shop, 161-18 Union Turnpike, Flushing, 718-380-0802
I wonder where the ‘Our Lady’ part came from because the name just translates to ‘Arm of Mercedes,’ with Mercedes just being a Spanish woman’s name. And yes, the story is true: egg white was mixed with quicklime to make mortar used to anchor/bond stone blocks together. This was how Spanish colonial churches were built in the Philippines before the 20th century. The wealthiest regions and towns (where a lot of stone structures were built) developed yolk-based sweets (which became part of local cuisine) so that the many thousands of egg yolks would not go to waste.