Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 4 Comments
When I told y’all about turron the other day, I mentioned that one of the ingredients is chancaca syrup. It’s not really an ingredient that you hear of often in the US, where white sugar and corn syrup are the most commonly used sweeteners. So, just what in the heck IS chancaca?
Chancaca (also known as panela, raspadura or piloncillo depending on where you come from) is sugar. It’s the pure, unbleached, unrefined sugar that you get from the juice of the sugar cane. It’s made by first milling raw sugar cane to extract all the juice. The juice is then cleaned and filtered to remove any impurities. The raw sugarcane juice is then simmered at low temperatures to evaporate out the water content, leaving all the vitamins and minerals intact. The raw sugar left behind is molded into blocks, like shown in the picture.
What’s that you say? Vitamins and minerals in sugar?? Yes, it’s true!
We’ve all heard a million times how bad for us sugar is, and that’s because we’re all so used to thinking white sugar when we hear sugar. But chancana – raw, unprocessed sugar – is good for you! You see, white sugar is sent through a process where the sugar crystals are separated from the molasses – all the good stuff stays in the molasses. Pure chancaca has potassium, magnesium, iron – even a trace of fluoride to help combat tooth decay.
But what’s really good about it – of course – is the flavor. It has a delicious caramelized flavor compared to plain white sugar. And it makes a delicious syrup.
- 1 block of Chancaca
- rind from one orange
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3-4 cloves
- 3 cups of water
- Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Let the mixture simmer for as long as it takes to reduce to about half. It should be caramel colored and about the same consistency as maple syrup.
- Run it through a sieve to remove the peel and cloves.
Serve this on top of pancakes, Peruvian picarones or use it in turron.
Something I haven’t tried, but think would be really tasty is to drizzle it over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Buy blocks of chancaca at your local Latin market, or you can find it at Amazon.com –Chancaca
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