Writing about the delicious goodies my mom brought us back for her Colombian vacation reminded me I should incorporate more “Colombianisms” into my blog– my fam and I may be American citizens now, but I was born and raised a Colombian so why not?
First up: Arequipe, or as the U.S. knows it, Dulce de Leche.
Arequipe is *not* caramel. Let me state this again: Arequipe ≠ Caramel. Why do I feel like I have to settle the difference?
When I was in high school, a good friend invited our group of friends to hang out at her house one afternoon. We had all been asked to bring our favorite snacks (kind of like a snack potluck, if you wish–by snacks I mean literally snacks and not booze–some high schoolers are actually normal). So I decided to bring in homemade Arequipe and Club crackers (just thinking about these makes my mouth water!).
Long story short, when I mentioned to the group what I had brought and one girl asked what Arequipe was, our hostess’ little sister simply said that it was caramel (oh those darn kids!). I kind of started to slightly fume inside because I knew back then that that wasn’t true–arequipe’s much tastier than caramel. However, having grown up with both, I wasn’t used to explaining what either was actually like. (It’s like if someone asked you about a certain expression from your native language. They may ask “how do you know that’s right?” to which you might reply, “I just know” or “It just sounds right.” Well, same thing here.)
Anyways, I don’t remember what I answered back then, but now I finally have a comeback:
A PoorButHappy commenter did a great job explaining it (third one down):
Caramelo is just basically melted sugar. You can add other ingredients, like different flavors and essences to make sweets that would be called caramelos. You can also melt just white granulated sugar with a little water in microwave oven to make thick, gooey substance (caramel sauce) to put on flans (puddings). Arequipe is a dessert made by cooking milk, sugar, a little cinnamon and a dash of bicarbonate in a paila de cobre. It takes a long time and the result is the arequipe or manjarblanco you know.
And here’s Arequipe’s Wikipedia entry too, in case you wanted more scoop.
Now for the Goods: Making Arequipe
I’m sure reading about it has made you want to crave a little bit so I’d love to teach you how to make it :D It’s super easy… Btw, the PoorButHappy link above also includes a recipe for great homemade Arequipe. But my family has one that’s much easier and yields the exact same thing. (Family pics coming soon!)
What you’ll need:
(1) A can of condensed milk (Nestlé [AKA Carnation or La Lechera] is our go-to brand)
(3) A pressure cooker
What to do:
(1) Fill the pot about 3/4 of the way with water and submerge the closed can (take off the wrapping first though!).
(2) Next, “cook” the can on Medium-High for about 3 to 4 hours.
And there you have it! Burnt condensed milk–i.e. Arequipe : )
Enjoy and let me know how it goes! Does you country of origin have delish unique staples or recipes? Share them below!