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These are the irresistible Venezuelan cachapas with queso de mano. They are a sort of corn cake or rustic corn pancake, made with ground fresh corn kernels. Cachapas are so wonderful that they are gluten-free and there is more: if instead of sugar you add stevia, then they are sugar-free too!
What can be better than a good cachapa, made with fresh, tender, corn kernels? Well, that same cachapas stuffed with queso de mano!
Cachapas from Venezuela
Queso de mano? I’ll explain to you, but first things first. What is a cachapa? Cachapas are a sort of corn cake. They are to Venezuelans what pancakes are to Americans. A much more rustic pancake, I would say, but full of flavor and rich in texture.
A recipe from my childhood
When I was a little girl, eating them was a joy reserved for our getaways to El Junquito. At least three times a year, we went with my dad to that little mountain town. El Junquito was located on the outskirts of Caracas, the city where I was born and raised. As if it were a tacit ritual, we always ate cachapas with queso de mano.
Later, what was really priceless was eating cachapas on my cowboy friends’ haciendas. It doesn’t matter if those farms were in Aragua, Guárico or Zulia states. When visiting, during the weekends they honored us, the Caraqueños (people from Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city), with a breakfast that invariably consisted of cachapas grilled in huge budares that were heated with firewood. No need to say that aroma was the closest to heaven.
A Cousin of the Arepa
Cachapas are from the same family as our arepas. I would say they are cousins. They also resemble the Colombian arepa de choclo, and are made of ground corn, fresh corn.
They are so popular that even Harina P.A.N., manufacturer of the arepa flour, makes a cachapa flour. This flour is made in the US in the same P.A.N. facility in Texas and distributed by Goya Foods. You can buy Venezuelan cachapas mix (affiliate link) online. Please notice that, even if they look alike, arepa flour and cachapa flour are not the same as the American cornmeal.
I must confess that cachapa flour has saved my life more than once. Fortunately, along with my beloved arepa flour, cachapa flour is also available everywhere at least in my area. That said, I must also add there is nothing like a from-scratch freshly made cachapa with queso de mano.
The Wonders of Queso de Mano
Queso de mano is one of the varieties of Venezuelan fresh cheese. Luckily, it’s also easy to find in the Miami area where I live. Super gooey, its taste and consistency are similar to that of fresh mozzarella. But queso de mano is a bit saltier and tart. It also comes in 4-inch disks, which makes it perfect for eating with cachapas!
If you cannot find queso de mano in your area, you can substitute it with the best fresh mozzarella you can buy. Venezuelan cachapas may also be filled with ham and cheese, nata fresca (you can substitute it with crema salvadoreña) or cheese and shredded beef (carne mechada).
How to make Venezuelan cachapas
To make this recipe you’ll need some tools and ingredients you can easily find online through my Amazon Affiliate Program, including:
- Wooden cutting board
- Serrated knife
- Harina P.A.N
- Stevia (in case you want this recipe sugar-free)
- Non-stick large skillet, budare or even better a double griddle for stove
Cachapas with queso de mano
- 4 cups of fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears of corn)
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream (I used Cacique Crema Mexicana)
- 1/4 cup of skim milk
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of arepa flour (I used Harina P.A.N.)
- 2 8-ounce disk of queso de mano
- Save 4 tablespoons of corn kernels.
- Put the rest of the ingredients, except for butter and cheese, in a blender and blend until a thick paste forms.
- Add the rest of the corn kernels and stir. Press to liquefy for a few seconds so that you can feel the kernels when eating the cachapa.
- Let stand for about 5 minutes for the mixture to thicken.
- Preheat a frying pan, budare or comal over medium heat.
- When the pan is hot, add some butter to grease it.
- Make each cachapa using 1/3 cup of the mixture at a time, and making a circle of about 4 inches.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip with a spatula. Cook for 3 more minutes until the cachapas are golden brown.
- Serve hot with butter and cheese: place a cachapa, cover it the cheese, and then top with another cachapa.