My inspiration for Cafe Caramelo came from a secret drink my grandmother used to make for my brothers and me. It was a secret because she gave it to us when my parents were away and the coast was clear. I can’t say I would drink this now on a regular basis, but I wouldn’t rule it out. It includes one of my top food weaknesses, sweetened condensed milk. SCM, the main ingredient, is used in plenty of Latin-American desserts.
It happened in a tiny apartment in Miami’s Little Havana anytime my parents left us in the care of my abuela, Nena. She was convinced that the most direct way into the hearts of my brothers and me was through sugar. We couldn’t get enough of our grandmother or of the sugary treats she gave us.
Nena was dedicated to making sure we always had a good time when we were with her. We often played board games, especially Parcheesi. She liked to take a break, run into the kitchen and return with three tall glasses and extra long spoons. She carefully handed them to us as precious prized possessions and believe me, my brothers and I thought they were! The only thing she asked was that we didn’t tell our parents about our treat. Of course, we never did.
My grandmother’s tasty drink was similar to an ice cream or a Coke float, but instead of ice cream she mixed sweetened condensed milk with the soft drink. When she couldn’t get her hands on a bottle of Coke, Nena used any orange soda instead.
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