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Manjar – Caramel Heaven

Picture of a foil pouch of the popular Manjar filling

Picture of a foil pouch of the popular Manjar filling

There is a sweet filling/sauce in South America that I just love, called Manjar. It’s caramelized sugar in milk. It’s light brown  in colour, and tastes like a taste of creamy caramel heaven.

Manjar is far more popular than chocolate down here, and you find it in cakes, sweet pastries, ice cream and sometimes served with toast in places that offer toast and jam for breakfast (which is really rare around here – it’s usually just bread, maybe margarine or butter on the side, a slice of deli ham, and tea).

I first encountered it in Argentina, where it’s called dulce de leche. In Peru it’s called Manjar blanco and in Chile it’s usually just called Manjar. You can buy it in pouches in all the corner stores and supermarkets here (and I’ve seen it on the shelves in Superstore in Canada).

I was shocked when I found out how easy it is to make. You take a can of sweetened condensed milk, knock some holes in the top, put it in a pot of water (water filling the pot to almost the top of the can), and let it boil for about 2 hours. It will reduce and turn a cafe colour. When it’s like a thick spread, it’s done.

There are other ways to make it too. This recipe explains how to bake the sweetened condensed milk in a pie plate covered with foil for 45 minutes. http://www.recipezaar.com/Dulce-De-Leche-76284

And here you can read and see how to make it from scratch on the SBS.com site, using  butter, two kinds of sugar, milk, baking soda and liquid glucose http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/599/Manjar%20blanco. There’s a video on this site that makes it look simpler than pie to make, with the recipe posted just below the video clip  (but the recipe is in grams so you need to have a scale handy).

It’s delicious cold or hot. You can even eat it in spoonfuls like pudding. It’s very addictive, though so cuidate (be careful in Spanish).

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