The Magic of Panela, an Essential Ingredient in Colombian Desserts

Colombian desserts are often not complete without Panela. It’s the missing piece in this coveted after-meal treat and other sweet dishes, adding a much-needed hint.

The fuss around it is genuinely deserving, but what is Panela, and how significant is it in Colombian sweet treats? This article discusses the magic of Panela, an essential ingredient in Colombian desserts.                                                                           


Describing Panela

Panela exists in assorted forms but is widely available as solid coned blocks. It can also be granulated or liquid and mixed with other ingredients to create many incredibly sought-after deserts in Columbia.                                                             

It’s made from sugarcane juice, where Panela makers press the plant’s mature stalks to extract it. They then heat the juice to a boiling point, evaporating the water content and leaving behind a thick and caramel-colored syrup residue. This syrup later forms solid blogs after the makers pour it into a syrup to cool and solidify, resulting in Panela.

Panela has a distinctive molasses-like flavor which is pretty robust, earning it a place in most Colombian desserts. Still, it has hits of smokiness, caramel, and toffee, which makes these deserts tastier and more palatable. Ideally, the missing piece and magic pill treat you to your sweet tooth.

Desserts that Use Panela

Panela is quite a versatile addition to most Colombian desserts. For some, the principal ingredient defines the general taste and flavor.

However, it may only be a minute addition in some varieties to add some life to their slight tackiness. Below are some popular Colombian desserts that include Pamela in their ingredient combinations.

Bunuelos – There’s a valid reason Bunuelos are a staple in Columbian holiday celebrations. They’re nothing like they are without Panela additions, which enhance their sweetness and give them unique flavors.

Cocadas – These bite-sized ball desserts contain grated Panela and coconut flakes. They form incredibly delicious candies with a marginally pronounced panel hint that quickly satisfies your sweet tooth.

Obleas – Panela chiefly exists as a dulce de leche topping, combined with other types, including grated cheese in thin wafers. They add quite a distinct flavor that makes Colombian dessert sessions more enjoyable.

Merengon – Panela is the sweeter and missing piece that seems to complete the matrix in Merengon. It adds a much-needed sweet flavor to the combination of whipped cream and fresh fruits atop a crispy meringue base.

Despite being a viable inclusion in some selected desserts, Panela has a cultural significance. Natives in rural Columbia, where sugarcane farming is rampant, have been producing Panela, which has found its way into the modern world of culinary arts and desserts.

This sought-after dessert ingredient represents the country’s heritage and acts as a symbol of national identity, hence perfectly fit most of the country’s mainstay dishes and desserts.


Panela provides a distinct flavor in desserts, so it’s highly sought-after. However, this sugarcane product is versatile and finds its way into desserts and various edibles, including confectionery, beers, soft drinks, and wines.

It’s unique toffee and smoky flavors make it a much-needed addition to numerous Colombian edibles.

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