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"Panocha" is a word with many culinary meanings. It most frequently is associated with some type of coarsely processed sugar cane that results in brown sugar-like cones or blocks that can be used in cooking. There also is a product known as panocha flour that is made from grains of wheat that have been allowed to sprout before being roughly ground to make a mealy flour. In Mexican cuisine, it is a type of porridge that is made from white flour, panocha flour and the sweetener of the same name. In some areas of the United States and Canada, the term is used to describe any sweet foods or breads that are made with either the flour or the sugar, such as panocha fudge.
Throughout areas of Mexico and the Philippines, panocha sugar is made by processing sugar cane and extracting the sugars. The process can be performed outside of an industrial or commercial plant, so the refining methods that are used — namely boiling the sugar cane — can result in a very robust, raw-tasting sugar that can be made and sold by vendors on the street. Despite the very basic methods of creating the sugar, it still is used as a specific ingredient in many recipes.
Another culinary use for the term "panocha" is to refer to sprouted wheat flour. This flour is made by taking wheat berries that have been allowed to sprout and then dehydrating or roasting them until they are very brittle. At this point, the sprouted grain is milled to create panocha flour. The flour is used because it is easier to digest than traditional wheat flour and helps to bring natural sugars into baked goods, and because the nutritional profile changes slightly, providing a different set of nutrients than normal flour.
In Mexican cooking, a thick, dark, porridge-like dish is known as panocha and is made from both the sugar and the flour of the same name. The porridge is made by taking the processed sugar and mixing it with water in a pan to form simple syrup, which is then cooked for some time until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep golden color. Regular ground white flour is mixed with sprouted wheat flour and added to a pot of boiling water. The syrup is incorporated into the flour paste along with cinnamon and cloves, after which the entire dish is baked until done. The result is a very thick pudding or porridge that is filling and sweet.
Panocha is also used as a vulgar reference to female genitalia, at least along the border for US/Mexico.
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