Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Merna's Banana Con Panocha Cake

Banana Con Panocha Cake.
Banana cake sweetened and enhanced with panocha to simply put it.
Banana bread or cakes bring back treasured memories from my childhood.   This is the first cake my mother baked, the one which eventually won my heart, above chocolate varieties.  One of the cake I'm fond of  baking as well, which eventually gave me bucks to feed my baking habituation.
But this one above all is uniquely different (forgive me for the redundancy, but just to give  the right spotlight).  I used to make and sell tons of this for Christmas along with boxes of brownies.
Imagine a sticky caramel syrup enveloping a ripe banana.   The burnt sugary odor tantalizing your senses and will definitely give you an immediate escape from our busy world to the elemental rural life.  
When my friend was doing this at her home, I imagined my grandma, making snack for the whole clan, the hot sticky panocha slowly melting as water was poured sizzled as the saba bananas were loaded up in the pan.    

Now see it and taste that memory with this sumptuous offering in a cake.

My friend Merna had the best mentor which I could not reveal yet.   Fired up with a passion to introduce a local yet rare produce in the Manila market and eventually nationwide and coupled with the excitement of rebuilding a new life back here in Manila, she was able to come up with something which is a genuinely Filipino dessert.



Okay, maybe you know Banana cake, but you might be wondering what Panocha is.   Maybe some of you could have plugged into my story, somehow.    For those who have heard this term for the first time or have read or heard this but have no idea, below is a sample of it. 
Beware, before you click Google for more information about the word, some derogatory info might appear, for according to Wikipedia, in Spanish slang, it is a taboo word for the vulva, a fact that has led to many deliberate and accidental puns. Lol.
But what it is actually, is a pride of some of the Philippines' regions. To distinguish its proud provenance, the term panutsa can more likely be used, which is a Visayan word for this product.  
Merna Brazil hailed from Leyte and one thing that really captured her heart when she went back to their town is to help her "kababayans" by buying their local products such as the fruits,"walis" and panocha, and find reputable market for these.
Decades past since I last had my fingers on this sweet.  As you can see, panocha is bought whole in the form of a coconut shell.  One sphere can go a long, long way.  Accordingly, 150 grams of it equals 1 cup of brown sugar.
The ones coming from Leyte comes from a labory task of producing such product.   The liquid is manually extracted from a crude mill which is run with  a carabao pulling the cord that maneuvers the stone mill.
Once the juice are taken it is now placed on a huge cookery, where the it will be caramelized until it thickens and become dense, which then will be transferred to molds made out of coconut shells.   After they harden and cooled down they will be wrapped in plastic and sold on markets.

It’s not as sweet as refined sugar nor brown sugar. It has that deep molasses texture, more than that of muscovado, which is technically its refined form. They’re like chewy candy.  Hard as may seem, you have to stick a knife to cut a portion.   This one has that subtle texture that doesn't make your teeth gnash with  uber sucrosey.   Ahhh, sweet heaven.
An epic formula for a good taho syrup should be the one made from this not the store bought sugar.  Out of this sweet dark caramel is what makes each taho unique, starts with the melting of panocha, a brown palm sugar. Mixed with the right proportion of water, this sugary solid turns into deep amber syrup.
To divulge how this cake is produced would be a mortal sin though.  But what I can assure you is that your coffee would have found a perfect compliment with a slice of this.   The sweetness given by panocha is incomparable to any sugary granules measured in cups.   Blended with the banana it gives out that earthy caramel flavor nothing any banana cakes in the market yet has to offer.
There are endless possibilities on how to enjoy it.   Like at the top, One can opt to cook banana slices with liquefied panocha then slather some vanilla ice cream.
Soon loaves of these will be rocking Christmas bazaars so do check my site out for updates.   In the mean while, if you want to try this out for yourself call Merna and order.   Let me tell you, these are good for give-aways and if you are still thinking of giving to friends and relatives who seem to have everything already, then this is the best gift for them.   The contact number is posted at the end of this post.
I experimented a bit and tried to mizzle salted caramel on it.
Oh I'm sure your kids would love chocolate syrup on it for a variety.

Banana Con Panocha Cake (Pedozos de Panocha)
Call or SMS Merna Brazil at +639215728404
Do add them up at FACEBOOK:  www.facebook.com/BananaConPanochaCake

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