Dulce de leche

Today, as the title gives away, I made dulce de leche.  Dulce de leche is enjoyed by many countries, sometimes by different names.  In Mexico, for example, it’s called cajeta and it’s made with goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, which makes it slightly less sweet.  It’s basically caramel and therefore incredibly delicious.  I used a recipe I cut out of Latina (it was on the same page as the habichuelas con dulce), but as I was cooking it and thumbing through another cookbook I found a different method.  Both have very simple ingredients but unfortunately I can’t tell you the difference between results since I haven’t tried both.

The Latina recipe uses milk, sugar, baking soda, and vanilla extract while the other one just uses condensed milk.  The second method is technically simpler since you just pour the condensed milk in a cake pan, put it in another pan with water (Maria’s bath) and put it in the oven at 475 degrees for about 2 hours.  I like the Latina recipe however because it’s more organic.  You have to stir the ingredients on the stovetop…and the results were delicious so I don’t see a problem.  I think I’ve heard of people going old school and putting a can of condensed milk in a saucepan with water over the stove but since this sounds like it might cause bodily harm (exploding can?  I don’t really know…) I’m not going to risk it.  Besides I could have just imagined this rumored method, who knows?

Either way it’s time consuming.  While the milk mixture was simmering on medium on the stove I thought it was never going to turn that caramel color.  I kept adjusting the heat but staying in the medium range.  You can’t let the milk boil over the top of the saucepan so you can’t put the heat too high and you have to keep an eye on it.  In the beginning though it’s pretty low commitment.  I just watched tv and wrote, then every commercial break I went to stir it.  A film will form that makes little lumps which you should just stir away.  As it got darker though I stayed in the kitchen and watched it bubble, stirred it, let it bubble again, stirred it…until it eventually got thicker.  You can make it whatever consistency you prefer so I would stir it, take out the wooden spoon, let the spoon cool a few seconds, and see how the dulce moves when I tilt the spoon.

The recipe made two cups of this heavenly liquid, in which I promptly dipped Galletas de Maria.  Galletas de Maria are these delicious little milk cookies I found in Food Lion in the Mexican food section and they are great with the dulce de leche.  It would also be awesome on vanilla ice cream (if you haven’t had Hagen Daas Dulce de Leche ice cream, get up right now and buy some-or make your own ;P).  Honestly I think I would pour this stuff on anything, it’s so good.  Heck, I had a little in a bowl by itself.  However, now that I’ve made two sweet things in a row I’m craving a salty dish.  More yuca fritters sound great, or tostones…ooo, I don’t need to be thinking about this at 10:00 at night.  So much for getting back on the fitness wagon today.  I’ll just blame Monday fatigue and have another little spoon of dulce de leche. :D

Latina Magazine

6 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In large saucepan, stir together milk, sugar, and baking soda, place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce heat slightly and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 90 minutes.
3. As mixture thickens and turns a darker caramel color, stir in vanilla.
4. Continue to simmer about 30-45 minutes or until desired consistency is reached (it will thicken further as it cools). Store in seal container in fridge.

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