On a recent vacation, I had a waiter tell me about an exciting new dessert they had on the menu. He then tick off the ingredients to a perfectly ordinary key lime pie (I opted for the chocolate tamales instead).
It always strikes me how everyday comfort foods take on an exotic glow when they cross borders. I thought of this when I was looking for variations on mote con huesillos, a refreshing summer dessert beverage that’s sold all over Chile: from street carts, prepackaged and bottled in stores, or mixed up at home. Dried peaches (huesillos) are soaked overnight then poached in a light syrup with caramelized sugar. Once chilled, the meltingly sweet peaches are poured over tender wheat grain (mote de trigo) then scooped out a little at a time.
Stateside you may be as American as apple pie but in Chile you can be más chileno que el mote con huesillos. They couldn’t be more different, but whether it’s new or familiar, they’d both be welcome at a barbecue, whatever part of the world you’re in.
Mote con Huesillos
8 ounces dried peach halves
5 cups of water
1/4 cup of sugar
Whole cinnamon stick
Lemon or orange peel
1 cup pearled barley or wheat berries, cooked*
- Combine dried peaches and water and soak overnight in refrigerator to rehydrate.
- In a large heavy pot, pour sugar and cook over medium heat, moving pan frequently but not stirring until the sugar melts and takes on a light amber hue. Off heat, careful to avoid any steam or sputtering, add one cup of the soaking water from the peaches. Stir over medium heat until the caramel has dissolved. Add the remaining soaking water, peaches, cinnamon stick and lemon (or orange) peel. Return to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature then chill until cold.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of cooked barley or wheat berries to the bottom of a tall glass. Add 2-3 peach halves and top off with juice. Stir in additional sugar or honey to taste. Serve with a spoon to break up the peaches and scoop out the grains.
Note: Chile and mote can be difficult to find in the United States but cooked barley or wheat berries can be substituted.