Arequipe, Dulce de Leche, o Manjar Blanco

Colombian Caramel Dessert

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 6 cups

Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Arequipe is originally from the Andean zone, Dulce de Leche from the Caribbean Coastal area, and Manjar Blanco a relative of the two that comes from the small towns of el Valle del Cauca. They are all our Colombian caramel sauce, manjar blanco being the thickest and dulce de leche and arequipe the lighter. They are all cooked in copper pots or pailas for different amounts of time; manjar blanco the longest. Manjar blancos are typically sold in totumos, which are the outer most shell of the fruit of the totumo tree; arequipes and dulce de leche are commercially sold in plastic or glass containers. They keep forever you could say; the only problem being that they harden and form a crust. This dessert is just absolutely scrumptious. The original recipes all include rice; it is strained out and people never knew it was there! When I was small, what we used to do was place a closed can of condensed milk into a pressure cooker and cook it for twenty minutes. Then … voilà!… are-quipe. Add it to candied fruit, to Cuajada, to ice cream, or just eat it by the spoonful as I do—after ten at night!


  • ¼ cup rice
  • 3 quarts whole milk
  • 3 cups sugar


  1. Combine the rice and 2 cups of water in a bowl, and set aside for 2 days.
  2. Drain and rinse the rice well and discard the water; blend the rice with one 1 cup of milk, strain (discarding the liquid) and place into a medium pot.
  3. Add the remaining milk and the sugar in to the pot and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours. Decrease the heat to low if you see little brown bits coming up to the surface, or when the mixture has turned caramel color. Cook for 1 hour more.
  4. To know when it is ready, spread some of the mixture onto a plate and wait 5 minutes; when cool it should be thick as a pudding.
  5. Keep it refrigerated up to a week. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent crust formation.