There are days when Manila feels like one big sauna. When the short walk from the grocery store to the parking lot becomes an excruciating trek if you happen to be outdoors around noon, and you have a bag or two in hand. What’s even more excruciating is those first few minutes inside the car, when the air conditioning hasn’t kicked in, and the steering wheel is piping hot. In a word, ugh.
Photo by Kris Alcantara
It’s on incredibly hot days like this that I think of Dimpy Camara and her Frozen Brazo. The first time I hear of the Dasma treasure that is Dimpy’s Kitchen, I was on the hunt for the best chocolate cake in Manila. Dimpy’s, I find out after some requisite crowd-sourcing, is among the favorites from the homebaking front. Fellow food-obsessed friends vouch for her chocolate cake, and often in the same breath would say, “You have to try her Frozen Brazo!”
Photo by Lori Baltazar
And so I order one, one Christmas. In that party, the Frozen Brazo is the dessert that’s wiped out and subsequently talked about. “Where is it from?” “Who makes it?” “Where is Dimpy’s Kitchen?” I’m asked. To this day, when I give Dimpy’s Frozen Brazo as a gift or bring it to parties, it’s met with a lot of excitement. Sometimes it even ends up being secretly stashed in the freezer because the host or the celebrant doesn’t want to share!
There’s nothing complicated about the way it tastes; the flavors are true to the original rolled cake. Now I’m not the biggest Brazo de Mercedes fan around, but what wins me over about this frozen version is how a few upgrades make all the difference. The ice cream and meringue pairing is simple but genius; the subtle crunch from the pie crust enhancing the experience without being an overkill.
Photo by Lori Baltazar
Dimpy’s Frozen Brazo marries four very different textures so seamlessly, from the swathes of whipped meringue draped on top that cushions the custard, down to the slathering of vanilla ice cream on a buttery crust that cradles everything together. The meringue is what I imagine clouds would taste like—unbelievably light that it dissolves on the tongue. Every forkful is a medley, and on sweltering summer days it becomes even more irresistible.
It’s been seven years since my first encounter with Dimpy’s Frozen Brazo, and three since my last slice prior to this story. Over a family dinner, I hear the familiar ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ when the cake is served for dessert, both to those who have enjoyed it once before and those about to discover it for the first time. It’s nice to know that in the decade that it has been around, nothing has changed.