Tocino de Cielo (also called Tocinillo de Cielo) is a dish that hails from Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia. In English, its literal translation is ‘Bacon from Heaven’. But in reality, it has nothing to do with the salty cured stips of a pig we know as bacon. As it was explained to me, the name comes from the likelihood that eating a lot of it may well add a layer of fat to your body. And the reference to heaven is because it tastes heavenly! It may not be the healthiest thing you can eat but I can vouch for it tasting heavenly.
It’s also very similar to something you’re more likely to be familiar with: Créme Caramel. The main difference being that Tocino de Cielo is made with just three main ingredients: egg yolks, sugar and water. Vanilla extract and orange (or other citrus fruit) zest complete the recipe. So if you’re lactose intolerant, this is a pudding you can enjoy too! The fact that it just uses egg yolks rather than the whole egg must be how it gets its richness despite not having any milk or cream in. And this pudding is deliciously rich!
A bonus from sherry production
When I looked to find out more about the pudding, I read that it was created by nuns at a convent in Jerez. They’d received lots of egg yolks from local wineries who had plenty leftover because egg whites are used in the sherry-clarifying process. I can’t tell you if that’s true but I do like how it ties into Jerez’ sherry history.
There’s more on this story as well as a recipe if you’d like to try making it yourself at: spanish-food.org.
A local’s top recommendation
I’d actually learnt about Tocino de Cielo from a stranger. On my first night in the city, I met a few people for tapas at the popular Meson del Asador in the heart of the Old Quarter. We were eating and chatting when a friendly family overheard us talking in English and struck up a conversation with us. The dad, a lifelong resident of Jerez, was particularly happy to share what he loved about his hometown with a visitor. Like Seville and Granada, Jerez has a rich heritage with many Andalucian traditions. It’s the capital of Andalucian horse culture and is one of the best places to experience flamenco. Of course, Jerez is also Spain’s sherry capital. Interestingly, however, when I asked the dad for his top thing to do in Jerez, it wasn’t about any of these. Instead, he told me the thing that I must absolutely try is Tocino de Cielo.
Where to find it: La Rosa de Oro
I didn’t have to search too hard for it either. On one corner of Plaza del Arenal, the main square in the city, stands the historic La Rosa de Oro. It’s a pasteleria and bomboneria that is as close to a French patisserie shop as you can get (but with Spanish cakes and pastries). In business since 1928, La Rosa de Oro is committed to creating beautiful cakes, pastries and sweets. They focus on those from the Andalucian region and make them in the traditional way. It has a prime position on the square and if what they serve tastes half as good as they look, then this place is definitely a winner.
It was a good thing I’d already had in mind to have their Tocino de Cielo… With so many amazing cakes to choose from, I could have been there for ages trying to work out which beautiful cake to try!
Tocino de Cielo and Sherry flavoured ice cream
On hot summer days, it’s worth a trip to La Rosa de Oro to sample their ice cream too. They have really good ice cream with the flavours you’d expect to find alongside flavours more typical of Jerez. This includes Pedro Ximenez (the dark, sweet sherry that tastes like raisins to me) and Tocino de Cielo, which had chunks of the custard dessert amidst the ice cream.
For someone with a sweet tooth looking for some regional food to try, your sweet tooth will thank you forever if you take it here!
Finding La Rosa de Oro
La Rosa de Oro
Calle Consistorio, 7
11403 Jerez de la Frontera
Tel: + 34 956 33 84 08
Opening hours: Mondays to Sundays from 10.00am to 9.00pm. The heladeria section (for ice cream) opens later in the day at around 3pm.
Located as centrally as you can get in Jerez de la Frontera on Plaza del Arenal, it’s easy enough to find. If you’re staying around the Old Quarter, it should be walking distance. La Rosa de Oro actually have three branches in the city. You can find them at: www.larosadeoro.net.
With so much to see, do and taste in Andalucia, it’s worth having a Spain car hire to get around in. Use our search tool below to get a quote. In Andalucia, you can pick up a low-cost car hire from a number of airports, train station and city centres including Jerez Airport, Seville Airport and Malaga Airport.