1 Apr 2014

Manjar Blanco

*MANJAR BLANCO*
(Peru)


As manjar de leche or simply manjar, is a term used to refer to a variety of related delicacies in the Spanish-speaking world all milk-based. In Spain the term refers to 
blancmange, a European delicacy found in various parts of the continent as well as the United Kingdom. In the Americas (South America primarily) it refers to a sweet, white 
spread or pastry filling made with milk. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with dulce de leche or cajeta in Latin America but these terms generally refer to 
delicacies prepared differently from those just described. Related dishes exist by other names in other countries, such as tembleque in Puerto Rico. In Portuguese-speaking 
countries the dish is known as manjar branco.This term is used in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina (not to be confused with natillas which is a separate but similar dish. 
It refers to a set of similar dishes traditionally made by slowly and gently cooking pure (normally non-homogenized) milk to thicken and reduce the volume, and gradually 
adding sugar. In some regions other ingredients such as vanilla bean, citrus juices, cinnamon, and even rice may also be added. Usually a double boiler of some sort is 
employed so as to prevent browning of the mixture (which would give it a different flavor). The result is a white or cream-colored, thick spread with a consistency much like 
that of a thick cake frosting although the flavor is more like that of sweetened cream (with accents of whatever additional ingredients may have been added). 


The cooking 
process is largely the same as for creating sweetened condensed milk except that the result is normally thicker. Although manjar blanco can be used as spread much like 
jelly or jam is used in the U.S., it is also commonly used as a filling for pastries and cookies such as alfajores and tejas. Manjar Blanco, also known as Dulce de Leche isn't 
a dessert for itself. But as it's popular throughout South America and used in numerous cakes like Pionono, pastries, cookies like Alfajores and even ice cream in Peru, this 
sweat, caramel-like, sticky reduction of milk and sugar just belongs here. Even though Manjar Blanco or Dulce de Leche is easy to find outside South America nowadays, 
homemade is so much better. The procedure of reducing the sugared milk to a thick and creamy caramel-like paste isn't difficult at all, but takes its time. And just one 
recommendation if you want to enjoy a really good Manjar Blanco: stay away from preparing it by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk in water for 90 minutes. In my 
opinion the results are more than disappointing and neither the taste nor the pudding-like consistency have anything to do with real Manjar Blanco. 



Yes I know the traditional 
preparation is a slow and time consuming process, but be assured it's worth every single minute. 
This rich, caramely sweet is known by many names: dulce de leche in much of South and Central America; cajeta in Mexico and Nicaragua; arequipe in Columbia; manjar 
in Chile, Ecuador and Panama; and manjar blanco in Peru. Its origins are obscure. But it is essentially the same everywhere: slow-cooked sweetened milk, reduced down to 
a thick caramel pudding consistency.


-RECIPE MANJAR BLANCO:

Condensed milk       2 cans (28 oz.)
Evaporated milk       2 cans (24 oz.)
Baking soda              1 tsp.
Vanilla extract           1 tsp.

Combine milks and soda in a high, heavy copper-bottomed saucepot two to three larger than the amount of liquid. Bring to low boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. 
Reduce to very low heat; whisk until foaming ceases and volume falls. Continue to cook, stirring very frequently; watch for scorching.
Reduce by at least one-third to one-half volume. Cook to a medium caramel color (about 45 minutes to1 hour). Be careful when it begins to color, because it will turn very 
dark very quickly. Manjar blanco is ready when the mixture stays separated for a few seconds when a wooden spoon is dragged across bottom of the pan.
Alternately, you can take a small spoonful out and allow it to cool, in order to determine if it has reached the desired thickness. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
Cool completely in pot.
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