The many uses of condensed milk

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By Chef Ed Dychauco

Pots and Pans

Friday, June 6, 2014


A BASIC commodity in our pantry, kitchen, refrigerator or stock room, this sweet, thick, sticky, viscous, syrupy, gooey but delicious entry is a must in all household.

And I am 101 percent sure everyone has liked and appreciated this wonderful delight at least in their childhood and even until their adulthood and beyond.

Way back in ‘40s or ‘50s as I was told by my mom, a can of condensed milk costs only a few cents. A whole box of 24 cans costs only a few pesos!
Well, that was way back when.

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I can vividly remember growing up putting this thick milk in my pan de sal for breakfast or snacks, even for after dinner treats if there were no sweets available.

And again, I know you all had yours, too!

Guess that was the cheapest dessert or snacks we ever had in our youth.
Fast forward to today. Who could resist this item in their daily cooking or baking chores?

It was indeed a “shock” for me when I saw condensed milk being added into the usual “macaroni” salad.

I grew up in Manila and macaroni salad was meant to be a salad made of chicken or ham, carrots, pineapple, raisins, onions, and maybe some sprinkling of cheese in a sea of mayonnaise.

But when I came to Cagayan de Oro city, macaroni salad was more of a pasta dessert with the addition of fruit cocktail and condensed milk.
At first I thought it was weird, but then I started to like it anyway.
It was sweet, creamy and perfect for after-meal treats!

In the culinary world, I remember a well-known and respected chef saying pasta can never be used as a dessert.

That was way back in the ‘80s.

But I guess, with the evolvement of new recipes and techniques, this was bound to happen sooner or later.

Our ever-favorite “mango float” where the addition of condensed milk to evaporated milk and all-purpose cream add to the sweetness and smoothness of the “cream” which when mixed with the sweet delicious ripe mangoes and graham crackers give us an all-time high.
Fruit salad and tapioca salad, of course. In the US of A, they call it “Ambrosia” which technically is only the addition of condensed milk to fresh fruits.

Hot cocoa. To be exact, ‘sikwate’! Our native chocolate drink.
In fact, sometimes I like condensed milk with my coffee! Just like the authentic Vietnamese coffee?

Chantilly lace a.k.a. chocolate revel bar as topping with the chocolate bar or cocoa powder that gives flavor and aroma to these delectable squares, plus many other brownies, bars and cookies.

Cheese cakes! It makes the cream cheese batter rich, smooth, velvety and sweet, of course.

‘Tres Leches’ cakes, a favorite among South Americans and now sweeping the entire North America and the Philippines.

‘Champorado’-eh! Using this type of milk gives it a distinct flair and taste that evaporated and sugar cannot duplicate.

Native ‘kakanin’ like cassava cake, ‘maja blanca,’ ‘guinataan’ and many more.
‘Dulce de Leche.’ Another very popular item in the market today.
Technically, this is condensed milk “baked” for hours. But why bother when one can buy “ready-made” dulce de leche in cans?

Bread puddings, a variety of cakes, cupcakes and a lot of frozen and chilled desserts use condensed milk.

Remember window cathedral or also known as broken glass torte?
And before I forget, a myriad of Asian desserts also uses condensed milk in their cooking and desserts.

Sad to say, I have also seen parents using condensed milk, diluting it in water to feed their children.

Not that it cannot be used, but what nutrients do they get from it aside from the sweetness? Just a thought.

So there you have it. The many uses of this delightful milk in our culinary world, and maybe a lot more.

[Email: potsnpans1976@yahoo.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 06, 2014.

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