The first thing I should tell you about this sweet called manjarblanco in Peru, but most commonly known as dulce de leche, is that even though I’ve photographed it in glasses, making it look like a dessert by itself, it’s not usually eaten alone… unless you are under a lot of stress and anxiety of course, and need a sugar rush to forget your worries. Most of the time, however, manjarblanco is just one of the many ingredients used to make a dessert or confection, (it is used as a filling for cakes, rolls or alfajores for example).
This Lima bean manjarblanco is one of the many different kinds of this delicious sweet that Peruvians are fond of. The regular one is made just with condensed and evaporated milk; but there are recipes with lucuma, cherimoya, coconut, or soursop; and beans are used in some delicious variatons too, like in this humble recipe made with Lima beans. Just so you know, Lima beans are originally from Peru, and that is where they get the name from. It is no coincidence.
The process of making this homemade dulce de leche takes a while, so plan in advance. The preparation should ideally start the day before. Once the Lima beans are peeled and cooked, add the milk and sugar, and with a lot of patience, and maybe a book for company, start stirring the mixture until it changes its color and its texture.
Once cooled, store in a sealed container at room temperature, or you may refrigerate it. I love to have some at hand and eat it by the spoonful. Yes, this is one of my guilty pleasures, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It is so silky and delicious that it’s hard not to indulge.
One of the things I like the most about making this recipe is its tradition; the fact that many cooks before me were standing by the stove stirring the same mixture of beans, milk and sugar, maybe cooking with charcoal and in copper pans. I´m sure cooking this sweet took them forever back then, and I’m grateful that they did it anyway and gave us this wonderful preparation as an inheritance.
Once you master this easy recipe, you can substitute the Lima beans with chickpeas or black beans next time, and you will have a new and completely original sweet to share with your loved ones.
- 2 cups uncooked Lima beans
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Wash the Lima beans under running water. Place in a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. Drain and peel one by one the following morning. The peels will slip off very easy.
- Put the beans in a saucepan, barely covered with water, and cook over medium heat until tender. At this point they tend to fall apart and are creamy, but if large pieces remain, you may process everything in the blender until very smooth.
- Put them back in the pan, add sugar, milk and cinnamon, and simmer over medium low heat, stirring often to avoid scorching.
- The manjarblanco will change its color gradually, until it becomes a nice golden color. When you can see the bottom of the pan when stirring the manjarblanco, it is ready.
- Cool in the pan or transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.