Natilla, Natilla, Natilla
This year I did a short series of Christmas posts for the Cooking Channel’s Devour on traditional holiday dishes served in Latin America. This meant spending a lot of time speaking with friends’ parents asking them just how they made that thing I had at their house that one time. One of my first calls was to my friend’s father Oscar Marin who generously gave me his recipe not only for the buñuelos Colombianos but the natilla con panela they serve with it. I’ve always loved joining friends for their novenas but it wasn’t until I spoke to Oscar that I realized how lit up Colombian Christmas can be. Jump here to read more.Natilla con Panela/Sugar Cane Custard
5 cups whole milk, divided
1 pound panela, roughly chopped (see note)
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1¼ cups cornstarch
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Ground cinnamon to taste
Optional: dark raisins or ground cinnamon
Combine 2 cups of milk, panela, and cinnamon sticks in a heavy 4- to 5-quart pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and store the sugar is dissolved, 5 to 8 minutes.
Place the remaining milk and cornstarch in a blender and process until smooth. Strain the cornstarch/milk mixture into the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, stir in the shredded coconut if using, and continue to stir until it coats the back of the spoon, an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Pour into a serving bowl or individual ramekins while still warm. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Serve warm or chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours. The custard can be kept chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve with buñuelos
Cooking Notes: Whole cane sugar, sold in rounds or cones, also known as piloncillo and available in Latin American markets.