Join us on our journey to discover the flavors of Peruvian gastronomy, with this time a sweet delicacy called chocotejas.
Now, there are tejas and there are chocotejas.
Let’s first talk about tejas!
Teja, from the region of Ica, south of Lima, is a small confectionary topped with white fondant. It is always filled with manjar blanco (dulce de leche), to which walnuts, pecans, figs, plums, grated coconut, orange or lemon jam can be added… Well, anything goes!
Teja means “roof tile” and the story goes that the name was chosen by the people of the Serrania (Sierra), a mountain range in the Andes. The day after a heavy snowfall, they compared the snow-covered tiles of their haciendas to sugar-coated candies. This is how they had the idea to make this sweet for the first time.
Chocoteja is a version of this confectionery that was created in 1950. As its name suggests, chocolate is used in place of white fondant.
Dulce de leche (milk jam)
Argentines and Uruguayans both claim the paternity of dulce de leche. But this sweetness is also widespread throughout Latin America while known by different names depending on the region.
And for the chocoteja recipe, we will be using manjar blanco or manjarblanco as it is referred to in Peru.
In France, we call it confiture de lait (milk jam), and in the 1950s, it was familiarly called roudoudou by kids.
The only difference between manjar blanco and French milk jam is in the texture. Although the ingredients are substantially the same, the Peruvian version is less fluid as it is a little more reduced and often contains a little baking soda.
The choice of chocolate is essential for this recipe because you obviously have to temper it for a perfect end result. Whether dark or milk chocolate, it is imperative to use a so-called couverture chocolate and not a baking chocolate. A couverture chocolate is a high cocoa butter content chocolate (minimum 52%). Personally, I use chips for easier and better melting and a minimum of 65% cocoa.
The choice of chocolate molds is also very important. It must be of very good quality, silicone or polycarbonate. The use of poor quality mold unfortunately results in difficult unmolding and a poor quality end result.
And finally the thermometer is an essential tool in this recipe.
I chose the version with pecans and coconut. Here are the detailed step-by-step instructions to make these little wonders that were exquisite and that I urge you to make!
- 1 lb couverture chocolate (65% cocoa minimum)
- ¾ cup shelled pecans
- ¾ cup grated coconut
- 1 lb dulce de leche (milk jam)
- Silicone or polycarbonate molds for chocolates
- 1 candy thermometer
- Melt chocolate in double boiler, and monitor the temperature until it reaches about 125 F.
- Remove the chocolate from the heat and wait until it cools down to a temperature of 80 F.
- Stir the chocolate occasionally as the drop in temperature is quite slow. You can accelerate the process by placing the chocolate container into another one, filled with ice.
- When the chocolate has cooled, put the container in a water bath for a few minutes so the temperature goes back up to about 88 F. The temperature rises very quickly.
- After the chocolate is tempered, its temperature must be maintained between 86 and 90 F while working it.
- Cover the surface of each mold with a thin layer of chocolate.
- Place the molds in the refrigerator for 15 minutes so that the chocolate solidifies.
Once the chocolate is solidified, place a teaspoon of milk jam and place a kernel of pecans and ½ teaspoon grated coconut over it.
- Do this for all the molds until all the ingredients are used.
- Finally cover each mold with a thin layer of chocolate and place in refrigerator for one hour before unmolding.