|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||10%|
|Total Carbohydrate 23g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 17g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Natilla is a rich, custard-like dessert that is traditionally enjoyed at Christmas, especially in Colombia. It is usually served alongside round deep-fried cheese fritters called buñuelos. Natilla is somewhat similar to dulce de leche, but it is thickened with cornstarch and flavored with panela, a dark molasses-like sugar that is a by-product of sugarcane processing. (Dark brown sugar makes a pretty good substitute). Colombian-style natilla tends to be firmer and sliceable, though it can also be served in a creamier pudding form. Many recipes for natilla include shredded fresh coconut, raisins, or nuts—or some combination of all three.
Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Colombian recipes.
“Natilla Colombiana is a rich custard with a decidedly complex flavor. It’s especially good with the addition of chopped walnuts and golden raisins.” —Joan Velush
4 cups whole milk
8 ounces panela, or 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon molasses
2 to 3 cloves
3 to 4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh or frozen shredded coconut, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped nuts and/or 1/2 cup raisins, optional
Gather the ingredients.
Place the cornstarch in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk (or more if needed) until cornstarch is well incorporated and you have a smooth mixture. Pour the remaining milk into a heavy saucepan. The cornstarch has a detectable flavor at first, which goes away once the natilla is thoroughly cooked.
Grate the panela and add it to the milk mixture (or add the brown sugar and molasses).
Add the baking soda, cinnamon sticks, and salt. Whisk to mix well.
Heat the milk-sugar mixture over medium-low heat, stirring, and bring just to a boil. Take out the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Whisk in the milk-cornstarch mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken. Stir in the coconut, if using.
Cook the mixture until it has thickened enough that you can see the bottom of the pan for several seconds when you stir (do not let it come all the way to a boil), about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir constantly so that the cornstarch doesn't clump, and the mixture doesn't burn.
Add raisins and/or nuts if desired, and remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
Pour the mixture into a greased 8-inch square glass pan or in any greased mold. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
Sprinkle natilla generously with powdered sugar. Cut into 3-inch rectangular pieces to serve.
- Whisking the cornstarch into some of the cold milk prevents clumping when it is added to the rest of the milk and sugar mixture.
- Take care to use moderate heat and stir constantly when cooking the natilla after adding the cornstarch. The pudding will thicken quite a bit and will stick to the bottom and sides of the pan, which can cause it to scorch if left unattended even for a short time.
How to Store
Store leftover natilla tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.