Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche is like caramel on steroids. It is sweet, but has a fantastic complex flavour. Dulce de leche literally means sweet milk, and that is what it is. You can make it completely from scratch, with milk and sugar. But that is not the method most people use, although it is said that it is the tastiest way. The more standard method uses a can of sweetened condensed milk, which is submerged in a pan of boiling water and left for a few hours (2-4 hours, depending on how dark you want it). This is not entirely without risk, as the water boils of the can can get exposed, which will overheat it and lead to an explosion (so keep an eye on the water level when you use this method), and sometimes explode anyway. A little safer is the use of a slowcooker. Remove the label before you submerge, it will disintegrate in the water. Take the pan with the can from the heat after the cooking time and leave to cool completely. Do not try to open immediately, due to the pressure in the still hot can the hot caramel will splatter out all over you.
Alternatively, you can pour the condensed milk out of the can into a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil and place au bain marie in a preheated oven at 225C for 75-90 minutes until golden. It can be kept for a long time in the fridge, but I’m sure it will not last that long, since it is delicious.
You can eat it as it is with a spoon, use it as a sauce, use it as a dip for cookies and fruit, spread it on bread/waffles/pancakes, use it to sandwich cookies or cakes, make mousse/panna cotta with it, the possibilities are endless.
When I found a can of sweetened condensed coconut milk in the supermarket, I decided to do an experiment and give it the dulce de leche treatment. It was not very successful, it did caramelize slightly but stayed very runny (left), while the “normal” variant got lovely golden and thick (right). I guess it has to do with the milk proteins in milk which cause a maillaird reaction, and barely any protein in coconut milk, but that is pure speculation from my side.

Dulce de Leche

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