Manjar, also known as Manjar blanco, is a popular Spanish sweet pastry filling that is made with milk. This sweet filling, which is also used as a spread and in the preparation of various desserts, is made by simmering milk with sugar and condensing it to a thick consistency. That is how it gets its characteristic brown color from caramelized sugar; hence, it is also at times used interchangeably with dulce de leche, a similar popular caramelized condensed milk in UK. This delicious caramelized milk is used in the preparation of a variety of desserts, especially in the Latin American countries.
Origin of Manjar blanco
Manjar originates in Spain, where this term also means food. This sweet caramelized milk goes by various other names in different parts of South America and Europe, such as Dulce de leche in Chile, Cajeta in Mexico and Nicaragua, Natillas in Peru, Dulce de leite in Portugal and Dolce di latte in Italy. During the Middle Ages, Manjar blanco was served as a dessert that was made with the help of a mold and had the consistency of gelatin. In fact, this dessert was made with either chicken or fish, along with rice, sugar and almond milk or plain milk. This dish is believed to have been influenced by the Arab cuisine of the Muslim population of Sicily and Spain. However, these days this dessert is made with milk, almonds, sugar and corn starch. Gelatin is also used instead of corn starch.
Manjar is a popular sweet ingredient that is especially used in the preparation of desserts –
- It is used as a topping on muffins, cupcakes, used in cookies, pastries and cakes.
- Ice creams and crème caramel too are flavored with this sweet condensed milk.
- It is also used for making candies.
- This delicious caramelized milk also makes a wonderful spread for toasts, breakfast rolls, and jelly rolls and also on pancakes.
- Pies are also flavored with this sweet thick milk.
Method of Preparation
Manjar is prepared in the same manner as dulce de leche. Milk is boiled along with sugar on low flame, till the milk thickens to a consistency that can be spread easily. Milk, sugar and vanilla extract are boiled together, till the milk reduces to almost 1/6th its volume. Baking soda is added to the milk when it starts to thicken, which is further boiled till it thickens to the required consistency. At this point, the milk turns slight brown in color because of the caramelizing effect of the sugar.
Instead of milk and sugar, even condensed milk can be used for preparing Manjar. The Peruvian version of this dessert includes rice flour while condensing the milk, as it helps in the thickening process.
Popular Dishes using Manjar blanco
There are many desserts that include manjar in their preparation and some popular desserts are –
Panqueques Celestinos – This is a popular dish of Chilean origin where the thick caramelized milk is spread on crepes and then rolled and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The crepes are then broiled for a short while till the sugar caramelizes.
Frosted Cakes and Cupcakes – Various cakes are coated with a frosting that includes this caramelized condensed milk which provides a delicious caramel flavor. Nuts such as pecan and even nutella are included in the frosting to enhance the flavor of the frosting. Certain popular cakes include tres leches cake, chocolate cake, etc.
Mil Hojas de Manjar –This is a delicious thousand layered cake that is a variation of the popular tres leches cake. The cake is spread with manjar between the layers that not only enhances the flavor, but also gives a wonderful appeal to the cake.
Pionono Cake – This delicious sponge cake has a center filling of the condensed milk and is topped with whipped cream. The cake is given a wonderful glaze of caramel icing.
Ice Cream Pie – This dessert is prepared by topping a crusty cookie with ice cream and fudge and then topped with manjar. The ice cream can be of any flavor, depending on the cookie base. Cinnamon flavored cookies are the most favored ones.
Confiture de lait or milk jam of French cuisine, Hamar Palegg of Norwegian cuisine, Basundi of Indian cuisine, Boiled Condensed Milk of Russian cuisine and Vegan Dulce de leche are some popular variations of Manjar blanco.
Manjar is a high calorie dessert that is high on fat content (almost 23%) and it also contains a good amount of cholesterol (around 10%). A good amount of calcium (about 25%) and protein (about 14%) along with potassium (about 7%) can also be found in this dessert.