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Arepas | Cachapas | Toqueras - Sweet Corn Pancakes

Posted on January 08 2015

Arepas, Cachapas, or Toqueras are a rare treat for us because we can only make them with fresh sweet corn which only grows twice per year.  We (the Mexicans) call them toqueras and my Colombian friends call them arepas, while my Venezuelan people call them cachapas. If you know what they are, you LOVE them and they generate great nostalgia.sweet corn pancakes

I enjoyed this arepa below in Bogotá at a public market and of course with a side of hot chocolate. 

arepa colombia

This arepa was also enjoyed in Bogotá but I bought this from a street vendor; this one is stuffed with cheese. 

colombia arepa

I have tried to make these with canned corned and corn meal but I have never been able to duplicate the great flavor of fresh corn. This is also the same mixture for making sweet corn tamales (or cachapas de hoja), instead of pouring on the griddle you would wrap them inside of the corn husk (or banana leaf) and steam. You can’t buy these made.

This is a straightforward recipe, you can't really ruin it. You can add more or less of any of the ingredients and it will still taste good. 

My parents have been shucking and removing kernels from corn husk for about 50 years; this is the easiest way to do it but you have to be very careful. You need a heavy sharp knife to  cut and score at the same time; deep enough to get through the first layers of husks but not so deep that you cut the actual cob. The first few husks are compost, the following 4-6 work as tamale wrapping.

sweet corn

corn husks

Removing the kernels works best if you use a great big container because kernels will fly everywhere. Watch your fingers. 

sweet corn cutting

We have a molino which we purchased in downtown Los Angeles; the first versions we had were manual meaning we had to stand there and crank the handle in order for it to grind but we have upgraded  to a molino that is attached to a small motor. This makes things a lot easier. If you don’t have a molino you can also use a food processor.

sweet corn molino

toqueras

Once all of the corn is ground we add the sugar, baking powder, melted butter (or lard) and salt. We built these fogones below, or clay ovens, about 15 years ago and need to maintain them every so often by slathering clay/water over the cracks; this is where most of our cooking happens on the farm. 

butter corn

butter sweet corn

sweet corn arepa toquera

Once you have your corn batter you can treat it like pancake batter; butter your griddle and  with a ladle pour your desired amount. Once it begins to brown flip to cook other side. 

arepa toquera cachapas

arepa cachapa toquera

gluten free pancakes

We eat these with our hands, like a cookie, or we top it with sour cream. In Colombia and Venezuela they stuff them with melted cheese. These taste best as soon as they are made but you can also freeze them wrapped in plastic or aluminum. When you are ready to consume remove from the freezer and reheat in toaster, toaster oven, microwave or on the griddle. They will be much drier but still taste great.  

Arepas | Cahapas | Toqueras Recipe

  • 5 ears of corn (about 4 cups of corn kernels)
  • 1 stick of butter (about 100g) you can add a little more or less
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (about 100g) you can add a little more or less
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder 

Blend all ingredients and pour over griddle. 

 

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3 comments

  • Arcelia: January 14, 2015

    No way jose. Tortillerias process masa for tortillas. Which means a masa made with a different type of corn, not sweet, and also a corn that has been through nixtamalization … the corn was previously dried. This recipe has to be made with wet or fresh corn. Although in Venezuela they sell the dry mix that can be rehydrated. Less quality though.

  • Nate: October 15, 2014

    Using a small plastic container like Tupperware turned upside down inside the large bowl works really well for sucking the kernels. You cut the corn in half so you get two flat surfaces and then rest the cut surface on the upside down Tupperware. You slide the knife down and all the corn falls into the bowl with less risk and hassle as shown here. Why plastic? I have expensive knives and I don’t want to ruin them having them hit a metal container.

  • Nate: October 15, 2014

    Very thorough and they sound delicious. I wonder, if I can just get masa at the tortilleria, would I be able to pick up at that point of the recipe and get the same or similar results?

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