Sira-sira store: Hurray for milk

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Friday, June 20, 2014


I ONLY like milk when it’s in ice cream, and milk when it is served “on the rocks.” Milk served in a tall glass filled with ice has a superb flavor compared to the one served hot.

In coffee, I can tolerate milk, otherwise I don’t want anything to do with the cow product. This week I bumped into a national celebration in honor of penuche, which falls on June 22, and I wanted to embrace the day also so I can honestly say, “Hurray for milk!”

I looked up penuche and found out that this sweet is a regional food of New England and some places in the United States. In the US it is usually called “brown sugar fudge candy.”

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Not bad. That’s one more information for my brain cells to store.

The Italian name of this candy is panucchi, which sounds very much like the Filipino panocha. The latter is not fudgy but has a hard consistency. In fact, it is spelled two ways, with each meaning something else.

Panutsa is a chunk of brown sugar. Panocha is a sweet made by crystallizing brown sugar with limewater. When it is done, traditionally it is poured into a coconut shell until it hardens. This is why panocha takes the shape of the coco shell.

The penuche is made with brown sugar, butter, milk and often nuts. It is cooked until the ingredients are caramelized, giving the candy a flavor similar to caramel, according to wikipedia.

Why is there a penuche day? Why not. When something is this good, it deserves a special day.

The ingredients of the penuche are similar to yemas. An entry in wikipedia notes that there is a Yemas de Santa Teresa (Yolks of Saint Teresa) or Yemas de Ávila (Yolks of Ávila). This pastry is identified with the Spanish province of Ávila, but it is available throughout Spain. People buy it as a pasalubong, much like what Cebu’s tourists do with the island’s dried mangoes, dried squid and dried fish.

The pastry is made with egg yolks, syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon. It is formed into balls and placed in decorative paper muffin cups.

This sounds similar to iconic sweet Pinoys know: yemas. It has egg yolks, condensed milk, vanilla and sugar, and is ready when the mixture can be formed into a ball.

We’re in the last leg of our milk tour. Dulce de leche takes it origins from South America. Sweetened milk is slowly cooked to create a product that is viscous.

It’s yummy goodness is sometimes referred to as milk jam.

It certainly was fun for me to know the many ways I can take my milk. But I will have ice cream any day.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 21, 2014.

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