Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 4 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces panela, or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup frozen fresh shredded coconut (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Pour the mik into a heavy-bottomed pot. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk over low heat.
- Grate the panela and add to the milk mixture, or add the brown sugar to the milk mixture. Add the baking soda, cinnamon sticks, and salt.
- Heat the milk/sugar mixture over low heat, stirring, until it starts to thicken. Add the coconut (optional).
- Cook at barely a simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Stir constantly so that the corn starch doesn't clump, and the mixture doesn't burn.
- The mixture will get very thick and hard to stir, and turn a medium caramel brown. If you scrape a spatula along the bottom of the pot, you should be able to see the bottom for several seconds before the mixture closes in on itself.
- Remove from heat. Take out the cinnamon sticks and stir in the butter and vanilla (and nuts, if desired).
- Pour mixture into a greased 8 inch square pyrex pan, or in any greased mold. Let cool.
- Cut into 1-2 inch square pieces, sprinkle with cinnamon if desired, and serve.
Note: The corn starch has a strange taste until the natilla is thoroughly cooked.