Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Silay, The Home Of The Dulce Gatas

I grew up in Silay surrounded by food, from simple fares to not so very simple ones.  Every Sunday, our breakfast in my paternal grandparents' house would consist of tsokolate (made from cacao tablea and fresh carabao's milk), fried rice, scrambled eggs, vienna sausage, homemade chorizo recado and bas-oy ( an Ilonggo soup made of minced beef, tomatoes, onions...etc).  Meanwhile, next door was my grand-aunt's home where there was always some kind of food cooking in her kitchen, from pinangat, lumpia sariwa, homemade ice cream made of coconut, vanilla or cheese, but best of all was the Dulce Gatas (literally means milk candy). This Silay specialty was something "to die for" so to speak.

Before the advent of specialty cakes and donuts, there were the desserts and pastries made from family recipes. My grand-aunt's contribution to the world of sweets was her unbeatable Dulce Gatas. These days there are so many "dulce gatas" sold in the market yet little is known of it's origins, but I believe that the original recipe comes from Silay.  It is a common fact that when people buy, they would always ask if the dulce gatas was made in Silay.  Of course most sellers would say yes, but this is largely unconfirmed unless it is from a reputable store.

To my family, there was only one maker of dulce gatas that we knew of, and that was my grand-aunt, Lola Unding Lopez Gamboa. I remember her cooking this in a really huge cauldron, constantly stirring for hours and never stopping until it is ready to be poured into medium sized milk cans (the metal ones for baby powdered milk), then cooled and ready to be delivered to those who made the orders. The grandkids (us) would be eagerly waiting for the cauldron to cool so that we can get all the left over milk stuck at the bottom. Sometimes, the naughtier of us would take swipes with our spoons at the milk cans causing my grand-aunt to start shouting at us to get out of the kitchen! She had orders almost everyday and sometimes would run out of carabao's milk, so we got no freebies. In the late 70's this grand-aunt moved to Bacolod and just when I thought goodbye dulce gatas, I learned that there was another Silaynon making it but in bar and candy form. Since then, I have tried all the dulce gatas made and sold in Silay but frankly and without bias, my Lola Unding's Dulce Gatas was the milkiest, creamiest and smoothest that I have ever tasted. It literally melted in your mouth!  In her old age, she gave my mom her recipe with her secret ingredient, Karo Syrup, the one which gave her dulce gatas a different consistency.  Once in a "blue moon" when we are able to source the carabao's milk, we would make Lola's dulce gatas at home.

I am sharing her recipe, although I cannot guarantee that it would turn out exactly the same, because you see, there is a rhythm to the stirring that my Lola taught us that comes with practice, but once you get it, you will have the best dulce gatas in the whole wide world.

Lola Unding's Dulce Gatas de Silay

Ingredients: 3 cups Carabao's milk, unadulterated (if unavailable, you can substitute cow's full cream milk) and 1 cup refined sugar
  1. Cook over low heat
  2. Watch that it won't overflow and start mixing slowly to prevent curdling
  3. Continue mixing until it becomes thick and sticky
  4. Transfer to a container (fills up about 3/4 of a baby's milk can)
  5. Once done, you can pour Karo syrup on top
Note: It is a slow and laborious process since it has to be cooked over low heat and you have to continue mixing until done. (slow cooking and constant stirring).

GOOD LUCK! (and please let me know how it turns out)


  1. Dulce Gatas in the tin Klim cans will always be part of my childhood memories. Gone are the tin cans but dulce gatas will always be my favorite.

  2. That means the dulce gatas of your childhood was ordered from Lola Unding :) yes she used Klim cans :)

  3. I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now and I have to say that I have learned a lot about silay and the Lopez family . My dad's family is from silay . My dad said that he knows you . My grandfather is romulo lopez and my dad's name is Edgardo lopez I'm also the niece of roming lopez. My great grandfather is Eustaquio Lopez .

  4. I am glad you are enjoying the blog. So we are relatives :) Eustaquio was your Great great grandfather. Macario was your great grandfather. If you want to learn more give me a knock in FB.


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