Panela – Brown Sugar Cakes

I have used the panela brown sugar granules, well more like a powder for many of my recipes. Recently I decided to use it in place of the molasses called for in my baked bean recipe. It worked rather well so I went out and bought a few of the cakes of the solid panela and cooked it into a syrup.

San Clemente 1.9.2014 005 It has the consistency of molasses and is very dark compared to the powder form I have purchased. Now lets see what it does for my cooking.

San Clemente 1.9.2014 011The locals have said that using panela is not like using white sugar if you are a diabetic. There is some wonderful thing in panela that you do not find in processed “to death” white sugar. I am sure my friend and resident scientist Keith Daniels can give me a good lesson on the reasons.  Come on Keith, I know you are out there help me out here!

The day after I cooked this into a syrup it started to solidify again so I added about 1/4 cup of water and put the jar in a pan of water heating it again to get it a thinner consistency. It worked, it now pours like syrup and I used it on a batch of french toast. This will replace the pancake syrup we can only find in the bigger stores in Portoviejo, we can buy this at the tienda right down the street for $1 for two big cakes.

7 thoughts on “Panela – Brown Sugar Cakes

  1. I always thought those were breads. Are they actually solid cakes of brown sugar? Did you add anything when melting down? You are truly an amazing woman. Where do you learn all these things?

    • Hi Lyndell, Solid cakes of brown sugar that almost taste like molasses. I added nothing the first time but you need to be careful as it will burn, and it really went back to a solid mass the next day, so that is when I added some water to keep it a liquid. I found out about panella when we were living in Panama, I used it then but in place of white sugar. That did not work that well because a cake with panella kind of tastes like gingerbread, not everything should taste like gingerbread…ha ha If I see something I don’t know about I will normally ask folks and even with my small Spanish I can figure out what it is, if not I bring it home and ask a neighbor or just play around with it until I figure out what it is. This past week I found huge cinnamon sticks they are at least a foot long and about and inch across…I added a piece to my Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Soup that we had for supper….very fresh and rich flavored. Learning something new every day….thanks, be well, N

      • where did you find the Cinnamon sticks that big. I bought a panella when we came in May last year. I tried to crack it open. Thought they had something in it. We were puzzled and Mary didn’t know what it was either then. Now I am laugh that it was brown sugar. Thanks for the info.

        • Hi Susan, the small tienda where you wait for the bus near the church has the huge cinnamon sticks on a shelf to the left side. I found them about a week ago there. Nancy

  2. Panela is “first press” cane sugar, which is the same thing as sorghum, if you’re from the southern U.S! It tastes very similar to molasses,though has less nutritional value. To make my pancake syrup, I use 2 parts panela to 1 part water and bring it to a full boil……boil for 2-3 minutes and it’ll stay liquid. Yumm!

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