When Rosalia, a humble woman from Ica, started making tejas in her house to earn some money, she didn’t even dream that a day would come when her sweets would be so famous that people would travel all the way there to buy them. Originally made with pecans, thick manjarblanco (dulce de leche), and covered with white fondant, tejas have a distinctive flavor, only found in this small city, 300 kms to the south of Lima.
One of the secrets to Rosalia’s delicious results was this slow-cooked manjarblanco, made in a huge copper pot over a big fire, stirring raw milk and sugar with a really long wooden stick, for hours. Very hard work for a woman to endure, considering the high temperatures in this city which is located right in the middle of the desert.
After Rosalia, Elena Soler became the biggest name of the next generation of tejas superstars. This extremely creative lady, was a socialite from Ica, and believe it or not, the mother of 7 kids. When she found herself with an empty nest, her kids all grown up, she decided to start a business to keep herself busy. Her first confection to become a commercial success was a toffee family recipe that she started selling in Sears, and also amongst her friends.
When she realized how fast her sweets sold, she decided to expand the business and started making other recipes, amongst them truffles, her famous pecan roll (dulce de leche and pecans covered in chocolate), tejas,and later, chocotejas (tejas covered in chocolate, instead of the traditional fondant). The craze over her products was such, that she opened several stores in Peru, and even in Miami.
Named after her, her chocolate business took the teja´s world by storm, and every year more and more stores started to sell different kinds of chocotejas all over Lima, to the point that now you can find them in almost every corner store, with fillings like lemon, orange peel, prunes, raisins and Pisco, walnuts, figs, guava, lucuma, passion fruit, and the list goes on…
I don’t know who invented the wonderful tejas. All I know is that they are originally from Ica, and people from Lima used to buy them when they visited this town, because they were hard to find elsewhere. The first time I tried them was in Ica, of course, when someone offered one to me after a day touring the wine vineyards of the region. It was love at first taste.
My favorites have always been the ones filled with dried figs or candied lemons, and I used to take the fondant off and eat only the filling, because they were far too sweet for my taste. For most people, however, the sweetness point of tejas is ideal and they can eat many of them at a time. After years of eating them and loving them, one day I decided to try and immitate the recipe, and to my surprise, they were incredibly easy to make.
Some cooks like to make them free-hand, but you can find teja molds in the market if you want them all to be uniform in size and shape. Either way, they are an amazing treat!
What do you need to make chocotejas?
- Melted dark chocolate
- Pecans, walnuts, raisins macerated in Pisco, candied orange or lemon peel, prunes…
- Cover the molds with melted chocolate.
- When the chocolate is firm and dry, fill with manjarblanco and pecans or any other filling. Cover with more chocolate and put in the fridge.
- Unmold and wrap carefully in silk paper.
- Your chocotejas are ready!
If you don´t have the molds, put a tablespoon of manjarblanco between two pecan halves, cover with melted chocolate, and cool in the fridge.
This recipe is part of the Food of the Month Club, @ La Cocina de Leslie.