Editor's Note: With Latin American Cuisine, we explore the wide world of food in South and Central America. Check back each week for recipes from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Peru, and beyond.
Having cooked it her entire life, my wife's aunt Gloria knows a thing or two about Colombian food, and as a lover of both Colombian food and culture, I see it as my duty to make sure that the knowledge she's gained over the years is kept around for the all the future generations of little Lópezito-Altico rugrats. Every time we head to Colombia, we make it a point to spend at least a day or two cooking with her.
Colombian food is all pretty simple when you get down to it. It's a cuisine that largely relies on the quality of its local ingredients—tropical fruits, good meat, and a ridiculously huge variety of awesome potatoes—but few things are as simple as the dessert she made for us over Christmas.
Four ingredients—a ripe plantain, heavy cream, sugar, and cinnamon—get roasted together until the sugar is lightly caramelized and the cream has soaked into the plantain, turning its texture rich and custard-like, almost like a plantain pudding. It takes all of three minutes to throw together (five if you're really terrible at peeling plantains), plus a short stay in the oven, and you've got a crave-worthy dessert hot and ready to go.
The only tricky translation here is with the cream. Colombian heavy cream is thick and lightly soured, more similar to a British-style double cream. In the U.S. market, the easiest substitution is crème fraîche, which captures both the thickness and the tang. Barring that, a mixture of heavy cream and sour cream would work just fine.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.