Our first trip to Colombia had us wondering how processed sugar ever became a thing when beautiful carmel colored blocks of panela exist to sweeten and enhance everything from coffee to cookies!
Panela is an unprocessed and unrefined form of cane sugar that is hand cut and cold pressed to extract juice. It is then dehydrated and becomes a mild sweetener that enhances the flavor of whatever it is being added to, rather than dominating the way processed sugar does. Not only is it a pure and unprocessed sweetener but it actually retains beneficial nutrients including magnesium, potasium, iron and manganese.
Yes it is still sugar, but if we have to choose a sweetener we choose this one! It possesses smoky and earthy flavors that enhance many recipes including bbq sauce, oatmeal raisin cookies and chai. We have also made a fantastic vanilla syrup with panela, which pairs with cold brew or iced lattes.