Panela is unrefined cane sugar! But don't let that lead you to the conclusion that it isn't classy, doesn't like wine, and isn't the type to read a nonfiction book on a Friday night (or even be the type to get bottle service.)
We were lucky to see the process of making this sweetie sweets while in Colombia. It all starts with sugar cane! Either cut down and walked to be panela-ized or cut down and loaded onto a mule who then walks to the paneleria!
The stalks are fed into that machine up there. The sugar cane jus is separated from the plant fibers. And the fibers are used to fuel the machine to keep separating. Really using everything! Really cool.
It is then cooked! Boiled! So water is evaporated out. And impurities from nature are removed. It's then transferred to ANOTHER trough and cooked like caramel.
The caramel is tested in water! Just like we do here at Bon Bon Bon.
Once it's hot enough it is transferred to a trough and stirred aggressively to simultaneously cool it and add air to it.
Once the texture is JUST RIGHT it is poured into these cool wooden frames. It molds the panela into squares!
Once it cools a bit the frames are removed.
And then flipped up to cool/remove any moisture.
BOO YAH: PANELA. PUT THAT IN YOUR COFFEE.