Chile: Panqueques con Manjar

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Recipes | 4 comments

Today we travel to the west coast of South America and visit Chile on our VeganMoFo world tour.

Okay, so I have been to Santiago twice, and neither of them recently. The first time was a just over ten years ago and I remember it distinctly because I was there when Chile adopted a law allowing divorce. Yes, you read that right. Until 2003, divorce was illegal in Chile. I was attending a regional meeting on sexual and reproductive health and rights and remember the absolute elation of Chilean feminists when they learned the news that they finally had attained that most basic of rights.

A view of Santiago, one of only a handful of pics I took there

A view of Santiago, one of only a handful of pics I took there

The last time I was there was in 2006. My favorite memory of that trip was deciding with friends at the last minute that we absolutely must see Manu Chao, who was touring the region at the time, and running to the record store to buy tickets the afternoon of the concert. I had no idea who Manu Chao was, but I was game, and I didn’t regret it for a second. It was one of the best shows I have ever been to! The venue was packed to overflowing with what must have been thousands of Chilean kids, who were so damned full of life. Manu Chao was on fire and played a solid two-hour set, while all the kids danced and sang along. I came home and promptly bought every Manu Chao album that ever existed and played Radio Bemba Sound System (my favorite) on repeat for probably a month or so afterward.

Somewhere in Santiago

Somewhere in Santiago

And those two anecdotes essentially describe how I experienced this country, its people, and its politics. On the one hand, it is deeply, deeply conservative. The Catholic Church is still pretty powerful and has a stranglehold on its politicians. It is one of the few countries where abortion is still illegal without any exception (although there is some movement that may lead to change). A couple of hours ago I just watched its President, Michele Bachelet, speak at a meeting at the UN that is primarily focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality and manage to not utter any of those words even once. 

On the other hand, when I was there I loved the energy and the passion and the potential that exuded from the young people I met and hung out with (and let’s not forget, I was pretty young then myself). Just over a decade after the fall of Pinochet, the terror and repression of those dark days were still fresh in people’s minds. One of my own dear friends was exiled with her family in Canada as a child, before her family returned to Santiago after his fall. It felt as though its young people were embracing the freedom denied their parents with two arms.

So today I am bringing you a recipe that is quintessentially Chilean (okay, it’s pretty common across the region…): Panqueques con Manjar!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Manjar is the Chilean word for dulce de leche. I never actually tried it until I picked up a can of vegan dulce de leche in Brazil. But I’ve been intrigued by it ever since and until last weekend had never tried making my own. It took me four attempts to get this right, but on the fourth attempt I finally nailed it.

It is really easy to do, and if you prepare it the way I recommend, it takes less than an hour from start to finish. It takes just two ingredients: full fat, creamy canned coconut milk and coconut palm sugar. 

The trick with this vegan version is two things: getting the right coconut milk and knowing when to stop. First, look for a canned coconut milk with as few ingredients as possible: ideally just coconut and water, and perhaps guar gum. The best dulce de leche I made started from a can of Native Forest unsweetened organic coconut milk. 

Second, unlike traditional dulce de leche you don’t let it simmer until it becomes so thick you can turn a spoonful upside down and it will hold. No, you only simmer it until it becomes thick enough to leave a good (not too thin) coating on the back of a spoon (it took me about 45 minutes). 

Stop cooking the dulce de leche when it looks like this!

Stop cooking the dulce de leche when it looks like this!

Then you turn it off, pour into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature and then put it in the fridge for an hour or so to thicken up.

After it has cooled to room temperature

After it has cooled to room temperature

The coconut oil will help to set the dulce de leche and make it nice, thick, lighter in color, and oh so creamy. And if you’re like me and can’t wait, it’s still thick enough and yummy enough, to eat right away!

After being refrigerated for an hour

After being refrigerated for an hour

If you cook it for too much longer, the dulce de leche will continue to thicken, but will break and the coconut oil will separate. If that happens you can salvage it by letting it cool a little and blending it up until smooth. But the texture is not nearly as nice and I found that if you put it in the fridge then instead of a thick but gooey delight, it becomes rock hard.

Panqueques con manjar

Panqueques con manjar

So without further ado, here are two of the simplest recipes I have ever posted!

Manjar (Dulce de Leche)
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  2. ½ cup coconut palm sugar
Instructions
  1. Combine coconut milk and sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Heat on medium until the milk begins to boil.
  3. Reduce to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick enough to leave a nice thick coating on the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit on the counter, and then refrigerator for an hour or so, to thicken.
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
The panqueques are actually crepes and contain just a handful of ingredients. 

Panqueques (Crepes)
Yields 9
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup gluten-free flour mix*
  2. 2 cups vegan milk
  3. ¼ tsp salt
  4. A little coconut oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Sift flour and salt together.
  2. Add milk and mix until fluffy.
  3. Heat pan on medium, when hot turn down to medium-low and add a tiny touch of aroma-free coconut oil.
  4. Pour ¼ cup of batter in the pan and swirl the pan around so that the crepe mixture spreads out.
  5. Cook on one side until the edges begin to curl up, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for about a minute.
Notes
  1. * I use a gluten-free flour mix that is made of 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour, 1/2 cup of arrowroot powder and 11/2 tsps xanthan gum.
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
Spread some dulce de leche on ½ a crepe. Fold the crepe in half, and then half again. Or cover the entire crepe in dulce de leche and roll it up! 

Oh yes please!

Oh yes please!

I can’t think of a sweeter way to start your day! Thank you Chile for bestowing us with this deliciousness!

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4 Comments

  1. holy moly, those crepes look amazing!! Crepes are one of my spiritual power foods, but I have never had them with dulce di leche sauce -> mind is blown!
    P.s. I am also a Manu Chao fan!

    • Oh you must try it! It’s soooooo good!

  2. Ooh, ah! I feel compelled to make these! Would that be a 14oz/400ml can of coconut milk you used for the dulce de leche?

    • Great! A 13 or 14 oz can is perfect for this recipe.

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