Updated: Jun 16
With galletas Marias (Maria cookies)
Desserts definitely hold a special place in the culinary experience of our Latin American food repertoire; needless to say, I'm a big fan. Lucky for me, there’s a vast number of them in our gastronomy and, one way or the other, they have played an important role in our traditions, culture & history.
During the 19th century in Celaya (a city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato where the struggle for independence began) cajeta – you can think of it as a cousin of caramel and butternut squash – was born and rapidly became popular, not only because of its flavour, but also because it was easy to store, transport and could last longer than other foods. Cajeta is traditionally made from goat milk in a process that sees the sugar in the milk caramelizing and – the milk naturally boiling down & thickening as it simmers – to finally reduce in volume to a high degree by the end of its preparation: one could say it’s a thick sticky syrup. And you can definitely say it’s a luscious delicacy.
Dulce de leche, on the other hand, uses cow milk along with sugar. Bottom line: they’re both great and in Paraiso Tropical, you’re able to find a couple of them to choose from and no worries, it's a win-win! As for galletas Marias (Marias cookies which are brown sugar sweetened wheat flour cookies) & condensed milk, if you’ve never seen or tried them, I assure you that they can be found in quite a bunch of other Latin American desserts as they are very versatile ingredients!
Now you can find a lot of recipes with cajeta as one of the main ingredients, but this one, particularly, is hassle-free, low cost and you do not need an oven or stove to make it! Great, isn’t it?
Another thing I’d like to mention is the fact that both my wife & I had a great time preparing it, so I invite you to consider doing the same. It’s almost therapeutic:
About the recipe…the truth is this is the outcome of a couple of other recipes found on the Internet, along with the long process of adding & subtracting ingredients; and modifying parts of the process. But overall, it is the final stage of what a couple of foodies have channeled through their love of food along with the great moments that we get to spend preparing it to finally share it.
By the way, the banana is supposed to go underneath the filling & not on top like we did, but anyways, whether you choose to put it on top or at the bottom doesn’t matter. In the end, it'll give the cajeta or dulce de leche your personal style: you can't go wrong.
Now this is what you'll need:
For the cookie crust:
One 170 gr galletas Marias (Marias cookies) pack
One 90 gr melted butter bar
For the filling:
2 bananas (not overly ripe)
One 190 gr cream cheese bar at room temperature
One 7gr unflavoured jelly (just follow instructions)
¼ cup condensed milk
Okay, so now, hands on with the whole enchilada!
1. Crush the cookies in the food processor (or whatever works for this matter), until it becomes flour-like. Then, mix it with the butter.
2. Now transfer the mix into a 9” glass pie pan & flatten it until the mix is fairly compacted & firm. Put it in the freezer while you get your filling going.
3. Prepare the unflavoured jelly by simply following the instructions.
4. Put in the blender one peeled banana & condensed milk. When the mix is all blended, add the unflavoured jelly.
5. Bring out the cookie custard & start slicing the remaining banana, but at this point, it’s optional to add another one. Pour the cream cheese on it, evening it out. Back it goes again into the fridge. Let it sit some 3 to 5 hours (2 hours did the trick with us).
6. Take it out and now, it’s cajeta time! Or dulce de leche (for obvious reasons, we went cajeta all the way). We sprinkled some crushed pecans & even tried out some whip cream, so all I have to say now is, slice & reload! Oh, and of course, enjoy!