A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 31, 2008
Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk Candy)

Leche Quemada (Spanish for “burnt milk") is a popular Mexican caramel-like candy that has a long history in Texas. Pecan halves are usually added to evaporated milk and sugar (or corn syrup) to make the “burnt milk” fudge.


Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery (San Antonio, TX)
Leche Quemada
Mexican caramel candy topped with pecan halves.

Tex-Mex Dining Dictionary
Leche Quemada—pecan praline made with burnt sugar; the number one dessert in Tex-Mex restaurants.

Gourmet Sleuth
Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk Fudge)
From Saveur magazine, September 1998. This Mexican fudge is a rich mixture of evaporated milk, corn syrup, vanilla, butter and pecans.
Makes:3 dozen bars

I N G R E D I E N T S
5 pounds sugar
4 12-oz cans evaporated milk
1 12-oz can evaporated goat’s milk (or substitute evaporated milk)
2 cups light corn syrup
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup pecans (optional)

I N S T R U C T I O N S
Put sugar, evaporated milk, evaporated goat’s milk, corn syrup and salt in a large heavy pot.  Attach a candy thermometer to the pot.  Cook on medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring often with a wooden spoon.  The temperature should rise slowly but steadily.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes.  Increase heat to high and cook, again, stirring constantly--make sure to scrape the burned bits off the bottom as they develop--until the the temperature reaches 245 degrees.  Immediately remove pot from heat, stir in vanilla and butter and continue to stir mixture occasionally as it cools.

When the candy cools to 180 degrees, stir in pecans (optional) and transfer to a buttered 9 x 12” baking pan.  Cool slightly, cutting into bars while still pliable. Cool completely before serving.

Cooks.com
LECHE QUEMADA
3 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter (real butter)
1 (13 oz.) can Eagle Brand condensed milk
1 (13 oz.) can water
2 c. pecan or walnut pieces

Combine all except nuts in heavy pan, such as cast iron. Simmer on very low flame for about 4 hours or until you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir slowly (halfway between soft and hard ball stage on candy thermometer). Add nuts. Pour in buttered pan. Break into pieces when cool.
This is like penuche without the maple.

3 April 1930, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 10, col. 7 ad:
MEXICAN CANDY
Real Mexican candies made from the purest ingredients in the most wholesome and cleanest candy kitchen in Brownsville. The kinds include Pecan Candies, Pecan Rolls, Leche Quemada, and Cactus and Pumpkin candies. Come in and look over our wonderful selection.
Tamez Confectionery Co.
Adams and 11th St.  Brownsville, Texas

Google Books
Phantom Crown: The Story of Maximilian & Carlota of Mexico
by Bertita Leonarz Harding
Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company
1934
Pg. 345:
Five empires crashed while she sat in her garden munching leche queamada, the tasty caramel made in the region of Celaya and procured by ...

Google Books
Mexico Journey:
An Intimate Guide to Mexico
by Edith Mackie and Sheldon Dick
New York, NY: Dodge Publishing Company
1935
Pg. 20:
... de leche quemada, a fudge of burnt milk and sugar.

8 November 1935, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 8:
MENU...Leche Quemada (Burnt Milk)
(...)
Leche Quemada
One quart milk, 2 cups sugar, soda.
Place milk and sugar on fire and when it starts to boil add a pinch of baking soda. Boil for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. When it begins to thicken, try a little in a glass of water and when it forms a very soft ball remove it from the fire. Serve in small sherbet glasses. (Scant serving as it is very rich.)

12 December 1937, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Food and Drink in Mexico,” section 5, pg. 4:
The breakfast will be topped off by pan dulces, sweet bread and small cookies, or leche quemada, a sort of caramel custard.

26 January 1945, Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, pg. 6, col. 6:
Typical Mexican Milk Pudding
(Leche Quemada)
(Serves 4-6)
One quart milk, 1 cup sugar, 3-4 cup blanched almonds, ground; 2 inches stick cinnamon.

Place 1-2 quart milk in a deep saucepan with sugar, ground almonds and stick cinnamon. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and becomes gold colored. Then add remaining milk and continue cooking until thick, stirring from time to time. This will require about 2 hours. Chill and serve very cold.

23 February 1962, Amarillo (TX) Globe-Times, pg. 13, cols. 1-2:
The cow’s milk mixture is called “leche quemada” or “burnt milk” which is not at all an accurate description of its flavor. it may be served on small plates and eaten with spoons, but the best way is to spread it on hard-crusted rolls.

To prepare leche quemada, scald 2 quarts of milk and 2 cups of granulated sugar (1 pound). Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of Soda (or substitute a fig leaf in the old fashioned way) (?). in a tablespoon of water and stir this into the milk and sugar mixture. Boil slowly, stirring constantly until the syrup is caramel-tan in color and about as thick as sweetened condensed milk. This should take from a half an hour to an hour.

Google Books
Cassell’s Spanish Dictionary
by Edgar Allison Peers
New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls
1968
Pg. 522:
leche quemada, sweetmeat made of simmered milk.

19 April 1968, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 31, col. 1:
On the opening pages of the new children’s book, “Maximo,” the San Antonio author, Betty Gene Cottingham Wormser, tells of the excitement engendered when a Mexican mother cooks leche quemada (a candy made from scalded goat’s milk) for her little boy and girl.
(...)
Since there are a number of things to be learned about making leche quemada, depending upon whether you make it with goat’s milk, cow’s milk or condensed milk, we shall not get involved with the recipe.

5 October 1969, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 7J, col. 1:
Leche Quemada
A favorite candy recipe, Leche Quemada, comes to this column from the files of Mrs. Pedro R. Lopez, neighborhood chairman for Girl Scouts in the St. Cecilia area.

The recipe follows: Combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1 cup canned milk in sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly. Boil to soft ball state (236 degrees F. by candy thermometer). Remove from heat and add 1 cup pecans and 1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring. Drop by tablespoon onto was paper. Sometimes Mrs. Lopez rolls the candy into various shapes. let candy cool. Makes 12 pieces.

Google Books
The Art of Living in Mexico
by William J. Reed and William C. Malton
Wilkie Publishing
1974
Pg. 283:
Cajeta: A sweet made of milk and sugar cooked until reduced to a sort of caramel. it is also called leche quemada.

1 May 1974, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 2A, col. 4:
The cookbook ("The Texas Cookbook” by Mary Faulk Kouck --ed.) suggest a Texas dessert, however, which is Leche Quemada.

LECHE QUEMADA
Two quarts milk
One pound granulated sugar
Boil and stir until mixture leaves side of pan, about two hours, Pour in greased pan and, when cool, cut in squares. pecan halves may be put on top.

Google Books
Roots by the River:
A Story of Texas Tropical Borderland
by Valley By-Liners
Border Kingdom Press
1978
Pg. 219:
I had learned from my mother and uncle how to make Mexican candies—jamosillo and leche quemada.

Google Books
Eats: A Folk History of Texas Foods
by Ernestine Sewell Linck and Joyce Gibson Roach
Fort Worth, TX: TCU Press
1989
Pg. 89:
LECHE QUEMADA (BURNED MILK CANDY)
1 quart pasteurized milk
2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or pecan halves
Place milk, sugar, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve. Cook over low flame about 1 hour or until mixture begins to thicken. Stir occasionally and later constantly. When mixture thickens, check by caramel method (dropping a drop of the mixture into a cup of cold water until a soft balls forms) or use candy thermometer and let it be 232 degrees. Remove from heat, add chopped pecans. Pour into wax-paper-lined square cake pan and let it cool; cut into squares. Top with pecans halves for decoration. Other suggestions: Omit chopped pecans. Pour mixture by the spoonful onto wax paper, top with pecan halves on each candy. Makes 2 dozen small squares.

Google Books
Texas Highways Cookbook
by Joanne Smith
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1991
Pg. 105:
Leche Quemada
2 quarts milk
1 pound granulated sugar
pecan halves

Boil milk with sugar, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, until you can pull mixture away from the sides of the pan with a spoon (it will move back). Pour into a greased square pan and, when cool, cut into squares. Press a pecan half into each square.

Google Books
Christmas in Texas
by Elizabeth Silverthorne
College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press
1994
Pg. 29:
Leche Quemada
1 qt. milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 t. cream of tartar
pecan halves

Place milk, sugar, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve. Cook over low heat about 1 hour or until mixture begins to thicken. Stir occasionally at first, and toward end of time stir constantly. Cook to soft ball stage or 232 degrees on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Pour into 9x9x2-inch cake pan lined with wax paper, and let cool. Cut into small squares. Press a pecan half into each square.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, January 31, 2008 • Permalink