February 2, 2009

Burnt Milk Fudge

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leche quemada: burnt milk fudge with fruits and nuts

One of the sweets I cooked for New Year's Eve was a Mexican-style fudge called leche quemada which means burnt milk. The mixture of fresh milk and sugar is cooked for more than half an hour while constantly stirring to avoid burning the bottom. I actually burnt mine a little bit which made the candies all the more yummy. Butter, candied fruits and chopped nuts are added after cooking and the candy block is chilled for 8 hours or air-dried overnight on the kitchen counter before cutting into 1-inch squares. I combined the recipes from the December 2008 issue of Saveur magazine called Jamoncillos and from gourmetsleuth using hazelnuts in place of pecans. Making the candies is labor intensive but it was well worth all the time I spent making them. These tiny candies are so delicious and super addictive. I love the hint of cinnamon and the combination of hazelnuts and pine nuts is perfect.

Leche Quemada

3 cups sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup candied fruits, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 cup chopped skinned and toasted hazelnuts (or pecans)
½ cup chopped toasted pine nuts
  • Butter bottom and all sides of an 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, butter paper. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, stir together sugar, milk, corn syrup, and salt. Add the cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer on medium heat until the mixture thickens and a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees, stirring bottom to prevent burning. This will take about 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Add butter and vanilla, do not stir. Let mixture cool to 180 degrees.
  • Stir mixture with wooden spoon until no longer glossy. Add fruits and nuts, stir to combine. Transfer into the prepared baking pan, smooth surface with a rubber spatula. Chill until set, about 8 hours, or leave on the counter overnight.
  • Turn fudge out onto a cutting board and cut into sixty-four 1 inch squares.
For a little bit of useless information. The word leche (milk) in the Spanish speaking world and in the Philippines is used as a mild oath or an insult, depending on context or inflection. In the Philippines people say the word leche when they are angry, frustrated, surprised, and sometimes as a greeting. If someone says with an angry intonation "ah leche ka", he/she is annoyed and dismissive, "naku, na-leche na" could mean something went wrong and he'll be in deep s**t. My mother-in-law told us a "leche" story involving my husband when he was a toddler. She was at home chatting with someone when he started saying mama leche, mama leche, mama leche. The woman she was chatting with asked my MIL why she was allowing her son to disrespect her. My MIL explained that he just got hungry and was simply asking for milk. Both my husband and I have no idea how the benign word leche became a cuss word in the Philippines, Spain, and South America. Anyone knows?:-)


What's Cookin Chicago said...

Ahh...leche! Thanks for adding that tidbit about leche and its use in Tagalog. I never understood why my mom would yell about milk when I was younger! :) These look delicious and I'll have to try this when I have some extra milk on hand!

TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

Teehee -- I guess that's what happens when she teaches her son Spanish! ;D

Anonymous said...

Funny story, Oggi! I love it!!

I have heard leche used by Latinos in L.A. as a way to taunt women (usually accompanied by a groping type of hand gesture). But, perhaps that is the milk reference. LOL!

This fudge looks amazing. I hope to try it soon. Thank you!


~ Paula

Sidney said...

Interesting... will try to use it here...just hope they will not give me a glass of milk...;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't really know why that "bad" word came from a perfectly good word. But delicious-looking fudge!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice.. Does it taste like dulce de leche?

Eternal Wanderer... said...

I was wondering about the leche thing until I read somewhere that when used as a swear word, it actually refers to, ermmm, sperm.

I kid you not.

Unknown said...

Nice fudge you got here. Real nice.

BTW: In the Argentine movie PLATA QUEMADA, a man withholds sex from his partner for while in the midst of a spiritual crisis. He says "la leche es santa" meaning "my milk (or sperm) is sacred." Just in case you wanted to know.

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