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abuela's cuban natilla

Abuela’s Natilla

You will find Natilla at the top of any Cuban Dessert list. If you know anything about Cuban dessert- you know there is some serious competition. Each bite is a creamy, luscious, spoonful of heaven.

It’s an intimidating one to make. Natilla has a reputation for being tricky to make. We have a working theory that Abuelas all over decided to scare the grandkids away from making it for fear that we wouldn’t need to come to their house to get it anymore. It’s genius, we would always have to come to them if we needed a hit of our favorite Natilla fix.

Natilla is not out of reach. We won’t lie to you there are a few minutes while making Natilla that requires your full attention. But it’s not “hard”. Even if it was, YOU can do hard things!

Making Natilla requires you to blend together your leche condensada, evaporada and whole milk with eggs. The Natilla gets tricky when heating this mixture. You have to give it attention and love, or your eggs will cook and “curdle”. This creates lumps in the mixture, and you want to avoid lumps. Nobody wants a lumpy Natilla.

So if someone calls you or texts you when you’re in the middle of mixing your Natilla, tell them you’re busy. In fact do not even answer. They are going to have to understand. Natilla above everything.

But seriously, listen to us. Even if your natilla does curdle or burn a little on the bottom- journey on. Don’t try to scrape the bottom in an attempt to save the natilla. When you scrape the bottom you are bringing that into your mixture. Let it go. Leave whatever sticks to the bottom alone. Continue to stir the top of the natilla. Once it’s cooked you are going to pour this through a strainer, so everything that stuck to the bottom will stay there and your Natilla will remain luscious and creamy.

We went through a few recipes and methods, and feel this is the most straightforward way for you to achieve Natilla nirvana. Take it easy and know that you can do this.

Take out that leche condensada and let’s get going.

Abuela’s Natilla

Recipe by Abuela's CounterCourse: DessertCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Moderate
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk

  • 1 can (14 oz) of condensed milk

  • 3 ½ cups of whole milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup of cold water

  • 2 sticks of cinnamon

  • 1/2 a vanilla bean cut lengthwise

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract 

  • Ground cinnamon for dusting

Directions

  • In a bowl mix together the cornstarch with the water until it is completely dissolved make sure it is not grainy. Keep to the side.
  • In a blender or food processor add the whole milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, egg yolks, and salt. Mix on high. Then scrape the sides to be sure everything is incorporated.
  • Add the cornstarch mixture into your blender (no need to blend again). Then take this mixture and pour over a fine sieve strainer into a heavy bottom pot. Turn heat to medium high. Add the cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, and the vanilla bean seeds you scraped out (check Instagram video for help coming Thursday 2/17).
  • IMPORTANT: Once you start this recipe you are committed for the next 12-15 minutes (estimate). You need the mixture to become very hot, almost bubbling but not more than a few bubbles. Mix constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will start to thicken after about 6 minutes. But it could be longer. Not all stoves are the same. Notice the changes. You need to wait for it to be very thick, it should coat the spoon when you remove it from the mixture.
    BE PATIENT. If you feel the bottom of the pan is sticking don’t scrape it. Just let it be and slowly mix the top portion only.
  • Drop to low only once the mixture is thick and coating your spoon. You know it’s ready when you remove the spoon and the mixture is coating it. Turn your heat to low and continue cooking for another 5 minutes stirring slowly.
  • Remove from heat. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Pour over a fine sieve into a glass bowl. Let it cool slightly. Then add the vanilla extract and whisk well. Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let it set in the fridge a few hours. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

2 Comments

  1. Question, I want to make the natilla but with pumpkin for the fall season. How would you do that? Like one can of pumpkin purée and ground pumpkin spice? And would I need to add anymore of any milk to it?

    • Great idea. We don’t love pumpkin pie spice but add nutmeg and some ground cinnamon to the milk mixture once it’s heating up in the stove.
      Then add a can of pumpkin purée to the natilla as soon as you turn off the heat. The pumpkin purée should melt right into it. There is a part in the recipe at the end when you add more milk. You can always play with the amount at the end here to get it to the perfect consistency.

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