Definitions

Piloncillo

Piloncillo

Piloncillo is the name given in Mexico to small blocks or bricks of unrefined solid cane sugar. They are also often seen in the shape of small truncated cones.

In Central America and South America, piloncillo is called Panela or "tapa dulce" (in Costa Rica) because of its bottle-cap shape. In Panama it is called raspadura, thought to derive from the words "raspar" (to scrape) and "duro" (hard), a reference to the way the hard sugar brick is shaven to produce usable shards for cooking. The local dialect often drops the letter "s"; the word spoken is "ra'padura" or rapadura.

The color of piloncillo ranges from light tan to dark brown. Piloncillo was considered an inferior sweetener, used as a cheaper substitute for refined sugar in dishes and desserts which did not require a colorless sweetener.

Despite its inferior reputation, many Mexican desserts are made with piloncillo, such as atole, capirotada, sweet potatoes, flan, and more.

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