A super authentic Venezuelan treat that can be served as an appetizer or as a dessert!
Growing up in Venezuela, arepas were never out of sight. However, whenever my grandmother would prepare Arepitas Dulces, the day was destined for a celebration. It's one of those dishes that you simply cannot get enough out of. They're addicting. Sweet and wonderful to enjoy during any special occasion.
Now, a little bit of background on the recipe... Melado is to Venezuela and Colombia what molasses may be to the South in the United States. It is a type of syrup found in many traditional desserts and it is made with panela sugar.
Panela is made with sugarcane and tastes very similar to brown sugar. It is used to sweeten coffee, and anything else you would otherwise use sugar for. It's healthy and has tons of vitamins and minerals, given it is not refined.
Panela Mix ("Melao)
1cup panela AKA piloncillo, raspadura, panocha, or panela powder
In a small cooking pot, mix panela with water over medium heat, until it becomes sticky like honey. Set aside and allow to cool.
For the Arepas
In a bowl, mix flour, and the pinch of salt. Make a hole in the middle, and add the panela mix, and water. Mix well with a fork at first, and once that becomes to difficult, continue mixing with your hands. Knead for five minutes.
The dough should be a tiny bit drier than cookie dough. If too dry, add a little bit of water.
Make small balls from the dough, and flatten each ball slightly with both hands, making them into mini-arepas. You could also flatten them by placing between a plastic wrapper using a plate. Arepas should be 1/6 to 1/8 of an inch thick.
In a deep frying pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Place the mini arepas in the hot oil, showering them in the oil, until they "poof." Make sure they are evenly golden.
Once ready, drain in a paper towel. Eat immediately with grated queso blanco or your choice topping.