Chimbo is a typical sweet bread from the State of Chiapas, a “marquesote” bread that is submerged in a delicious syrup perfumed with cinnamon and star anise.
What sweet treats remind you of your childhood? In the south of Mexico during the 70’s, the sweets that reigned were the homemade ones. One of my favorites was “El Chimbo”. With an undefined origin, it uses as a base a homemade bread similar to “Marquesote” (a simple cake-like bread); this is then soaked in a cinnamon-sugar syrup to transform it into a delicious dessert.
Hailing from the State of Chiapas, there are people that place the origins of this dessert in San Cristóbal de las Casas and in Comitlán, although it is often found in the markets and corners of the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
The Marquesote, widely known throughout central and southern Mexico for being a bread that’s easy to make and perfect for accompanying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, is also known in Chiapas by the name “mamón” (“sucker”), since its porous interior is good at absorbing liquids.
It is common during religious celebrations to offer this bread in cutely adorned baskets as an accompaniment before the main dish. It is easily found in bakeries and public markets.
Marquesote can be baked in sardine cans, which gives it a characteristic oval shape. This should not be confused with the “Cazueleja” bread, which uses lard and shredded dry cheese, which makes the dough “crack” when it rises. In the case of the Marquesote (or “mamón”) bread, the surface of the bread stays flat.
This dessert is very easy to make. We first need to prepare the Marquesote bread, which can also be used as a sweet bread (“pan dulce”) by itself, without the need to soak it in the syrup.
HOW TO MAKE CHIMBOS
RENDERS 32 SMALL SERVINGS
For the bread (Marquesote):
- 8 eggs (yolks separated)
- 100g of sugar
- 220g of flour
- 15g baking powder
- 100g of melted butter (room temperature)
For the syrup:
- 600g of sugar
- 4 star anise
- One stick of cinnamon
- Use a rectangular mold (buttered and floured) that is no larger than 50 cm in width, and no deeper than 5 cm.
- When submerging the bread in the syrup, the syrup needs to be cool enough for you to handle, but still warm to the point that it is liquid enough to be soaked up by the bread (if it’s too thick the bread won’t absorb it).
- The 100g of sugar is if you’re making the Chimbo soaked in the syrup. If you’re making the Marquesote as a stand-alone sweet bread (without soaking in the syrup), use 200g of sugar instead.
INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE CHIMBOS:
- Preheat your oven to 175º Celsius. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form peaks, then slowly mix in (while still beating) the egg yolks one by one. Also mix in half of the sugar.
- Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the mixture along with the rest of the sugar. Do this slowly, gently turning over the batter, in order to preserve its spongy consistency.
- When adding the butter, you must first mix it separately with a small portion of the batter, then incorporate it slowly into the rest.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared mold and bake for 20 minutes. The crust must be firm and have a slightly golden color.
Allow the cake to cool completely before handling it. Cut it into long pieces ranging from 5 to 8 cm in length. It is traditionally cut in a diamond pattern.
TO MAKE THE SYRUP:
6. To make the syrup, add the sugar, star anise, and stick of cinnamon to a pot with 1 liter of water.
7. Bring the water to a boil, but do it slowly at first. As soon as it starts releasing dark bubbles/foam, you must scoop it out with a spoon. At this point, reduce the heat and keep cooking the mixture until it reduces to half its size.
8. Let the syrup cool slightly. While it is still warm, submerge the pieces of the marquesote bread in it. Squeeze the bread a little so it absorbs enough syrup to get moist on the inside. Drain the excess syrup from the “Chimbos” and serve them on a plate.
The Chimbos are now ready to enjoy!
During the season of the Day of the Dead, it is common to see these “Chimbos” on the altars, and they are without a doubt one of the favorite local desserts.
It’s a pleasure for me to share this recipe from our friend in the State of Chiapas. María Inés Muñoz Gordillo
María Inés Muñoz Gordillo is a communicator who is passionate about Mexican cuisine and its relationship with the culture of small towns in Mexico. Since her childhood—inspired by her grandmother Lupita, an amazing cook from Chiapas—she began her culinary journey among markets, street food stands, stoves, and restaurants. Her field of work is documenting the gastronomy of southern Mexico.