Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dulce de leche

I have encountered dulce de leche on various occasions, and have been impressed by its silky smoothness each time. The first time I was in Spain and I asked the waiter what it was. He said in broken english, "ehm, sweet of milk", and it wasn't until I tried it that I realized he meant caramel. The second time was in the form of a glorious tres leches cake, and afterwards I realized that I needed to be able to make such a delicious confection on my own. It was a good thing to realize this because- it is stupidly easy. It is not hard in an obvious way- rather it poses a technical challenge of not burning yourself with hot water. 
 There are several ways to make dulce de leche- stovetop, microwave, and oven. The oven is my preferred method, as it is less time-consuming, and yields silky smooth caramel. Many milk based desserts, like flan and crème brulee are baked using water baths, because it offers a second alternative source of heat in the oven that is more gentle. The oven method requires sweetened condensed milk, and make sure that you use that instead of evaporated milk- they are right next to each other at the grocery and look very similar! 

In the pale- dulce de leche after one hour. 
Shall I make a list of delicious ways that dulce de leche can improve your life?
-          Crepes with dulce de leche and toasted pecans- magnifique 
-          A filling for sandwich cookies
-          Spoon.
-          A dip for apple slices and other fruits
-          Spoon.
-          Toast, perhaps joined by nutella. 
Water bath, or bagna cauda. 

1 15 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk 
1 medium sized loaf pan, or pie tin 
hot water bath 
aluminum foil 


Open can, and pour into tin. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt lightly over the top. Wrap tightly in foil, and place in  roasting pan or casserole dish. Carefully fill up the larger dish with hot water until it is 3/4 up the dulce de leche dish. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-90 minutes, and check up on the level of the hot water bath, refilling as necessary. It is helpful to have a pot of simmering water on the stove for this. Bake until brown and caramelized, and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. 
To bring to room temperature: microwave or place in a saucepan with water filled halfway up the jar, and simmer until dulce de leche is heated. 
Dulce de leche will last in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. 

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