I have become totally addicted to homemade Dulce de
Leche. Although I liked it well enough when I bought a commercial
brand, my fondness for it went up about 100% after making it from scratch. I
hope the same thing happens to you once you try this recipe. I admit that
my favorite way to eat this caramel flavored spread is from a spoon, but it
is also great when poured over ice cream,
used as a dip for fruit, spread on bread or even pancakes, poured over
popcorn, used as a flavoring in homemade ice cream or yogurt, as a frosting, to
sandwich two cookies together (especially in Alfajores), as a layer in
Millionaire's Shortbread Bars, or in a Banoffee Pie (takes a pastry shell
and fills it
with Dulce de Leche, sliced bananas, and whipped cream).
Dulce de Leche (pronounced
DOOL-say day LAY-chay) is a rich, sweet, complex caramel flavored cream that is made by
boiling down cow's or goat's milk, mixed with sugar, until thick and golden
colored. Dulce de Leche means "sweet of milk" or "milk candy"
and it is very popular in Mexico, Central and South America. It is
also known as cajeta, arequipe, manjar or manjur, and doce de leite and is
usually sold in cans, jars, or tubs in Latin markets and grocery stores. Some
recipes make homemade Dulce de Leche by simply cooking a can of sweetened
condensed milk until thick and golden colored. While this Dulce de Leche is good, I prefer making it
from scratch. But making it from scratch does require one hour of your
undivided attention, as it needs a lot of stirring. So, pull up a chair,
turn on the television, and enjoy how your kitchen slowly fills with the
sweet flavor of caramel. To make Dulce de Leche you start with whole milk,
either cow's or goat's (try to use organic milk). Goat's milk gives the Dulce de Leche a slightly
different flavor, with a distinct after taste. I have found goat's milk at
my local grocery store, and it is definitely worth trying. Besides milk,
you need some white granulated sugar, a few tablespoons of light corn syrup
(or glucose), a little baking soda and salt.
To cook the Dulce de Leche you will need
a large 8 quart (8 liter) saucepan or Dutch oven as the milk does foam up
as it comes to a boil. If you are like me and only have a 6 quart (6
liter) Dutch oven, you may have to remove the saucepan from the heat
briefly once the milk starts to foam up, as there is the possibility of it
spilling over the top of the saucepan. Just let the foam subside and then
return to heat. Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
You want the milk to cook at a low, rolling boil. Stir the bottom and sides
of the saucepan frequently to prevent burning. After about 15 minutes of
cooking, the milk will start to turn a light beige color. As it continues
to cook, the milk will caramelize and eventually it turns a deep golden
brown color with a thick, sticky texture. Total cooking time is between
40-60 minutes or until the milk has reduced to about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups
(300-360 ml). Dulce de Leche can be stored in the refrigerator for
at least a month. To soften, gently warm in the microwave or on the stove.
Dulce de Leche:
Put the milk, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda and
salt in a large, heavy-duty 8 quart (8 liter) saucepan or Dutch oven. Place
over medium to medium-high heat and bring just to a boil. Watch carefully, and
as soon as the milk begins to foam up, stir with a heatproof spatula or wooden
spoon, and reduce heat until the milk is just at a low rolling boil. (If the milk foams
up too much, remove the saucepan from the heat until the foam starts to subside.
Then return to heat.)
Continue to cook
the milk, stirring the bottom and sides of the saucepan frequently, until the
mixture becomes very thick and sticky and caramel colored (this will take about 40 - 60
minutes). It is important to frequently stir the milk so it does not
burn. Adjust the heat as necessary, you want the milk to be at a low rolling
Note: There are
several stages the milk goes through during the cooking process. When the milk
first comes to a boil
there is a lot of foam. Eventually the foam subsides and after about 15
minutes, you will notice that the milk turns a light beige color. As it
continues to cook, the milk thickens and gets darker and darker in
color. The more you cook the Dulce de Leche, the thicker and more caramel
colored it will become. Once the Dulce de Leche has been reduced to about 1
1/4 cups (300 ml) it is ready.
Remove from heat
and strain, if necessary. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool before covering and storing. The Dulce
de Leche can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a month.
Makes approximately 1
1/4 cups (300
ml). Preparation time 1 hour.
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