Yema means EGG YOLK in Spanish. Surprise! Surprise! These candies look like egg yolks! I was enthralled with these candies from the first time I saw and tried one. Now, even though they look like egg yolks preserved in sugar, they’re actually a soft custardy candy. I’ve seen salt-cured egg yolks that look similar to these candies, but these are fully cooked candies that are sweet, bright, and delicious.
Their History According to Wikipedia:
The origin of the pastry is uncertain but there are several opinions about where it comes from. One theory assumes that it was a pastry shop in the Medieval Ages in Andalusia called “Flor de Castilla” that first sold a pastry under the name “Yemas de Santa Teresa”. Don Isabelo Sánchez, founder of the pastry shop “La Dulce Aviles” (nowadays known as “Flor de Castilla”) in Ávila commercialized the pastry in 1860 under the name “Yemas de Santa Teresa”. The success of the dish was great and other pastry chefs in Ávila soon started to sell similar pastries which they called “Yemas de Ávila”. Another theory credits the monks of the convent of Teresa of Ávila with the invention of the dish.
The yemas in Spain don’t normally have too strong of a flavor, it’s just a rich and sweet treat. My version uses lemon zest, and lemon juice to brighten the candy. I also like to add cinnamon sticks to the simple syrup because the mix of cinnamon and citrus is very Spanish to me. Some of my favorite desserts in Spain have this flavor profile.
In Spain you can also get Palmaeras, the heart/palm-shaped rolled pastry treats, with a yema topping. This is my FAVORITE topping for a palmera, followed closely by the versions topped with coconut and also the chocolate ones.
Make sure you reserve the egg whites when you’re making this recipe. You could easily use the whites to make meringues. You can also freeze the whites in a container or individually in muffin tins and then transfer them to a ziplock bag in the freezer once they’re solid.
I love any reason to buy fun paper muffin liners! Aren’t these ones adorable?!
Yemas de Santa Teresa
A custardy candy that is popular in Spain. My version is bright and very lemony with a touch of cinnamon flavor underneath. A delightful treat that's made even better by its stunning pop of bright yellow.
- 1 cup sugar 200g
- ½ cup water 120ml
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- juice of half a lemon
- zest of one lemon
- 10 egg yolks
- ½ cup superfine sugar for dusting
Add sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until a candy thermometer reads soft-ball stage.
Remove from heat and discard cinnamon sticks, and set syrup aside.
In a bowl, add lemon juice and zest to egg yolks and whisk until color lightens, ideally until the mixture is a pale yellow.
Slowly drizzle the yolk mixture into the hot syrup while whisking continuously.
Return pan to stove and stir constantly over moderate heat until mixture thickens. About 4-5 minutes.
Remove man from heat and continue to stir mixture with a wooden spoon while the pan is atop the bowl of ice. The mixture should thicken even more.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour the mixture onto the sheet. Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray and nudge the mixture into one or two lines about 1-2 inches wide.
Put the tray into the refrigerator and allow the mixture to cool until it's quite thick and you're able to easily handle it.
Spray your hands with cooking spray and cut off pieces of the mixture and roll them into ball shapes. The balls should be about the size of a real egg yolk.
Roll each ball in superfine sugar and put them in a parchment lined container. Once all the balls are made, allow the candies to chill overnight. The sugared outer layer will form a crust-like texture and dry slightly.
The next day transfer the balls to mini-cupcake liners and store until ready to eat.