Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dulce de Leche



Dulce de leche is one of those things that inspires rapture when mentioned. It's a sweet milky caramel that is typically made by some manner of boiling an unopened or pierced can of sweetened condensed milk for hours. It has to be watched carefully for if the water evaporates, the can can explode and spray sticky caramel all over your kitchen.

I was dubious about boiling cans for hours and the accompanying risk of disaster. I don't have such a great track record with such things so I spent a few minutes with my buddy Google. Sure enough, Alton Brown has a recipe for dulce de leche, and it doesn't involve cans of exploding sugary milk.

Here's the thing: making your own dulce de leche is easy. You only need four ingredients, and you might have all of them without a trip to the store. It does eliminate the excitement that comes with waiting for your can of sweetened condensed milk to explode but I'm willing to forego that to keep my kitchen clean.

Homemade Dulce de Leche - adapted from Alton Brown
Printable recipe

1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the whole milk, sugar and vanilla bean in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar melts and the mixture starts to boil, add the baking soda and lower the heat to low until the mixture is barely simmering. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally (don't try to incorporate the foam that forms on the top of the milk). Remove the vanilla bean and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup or clean container, cover and refrigerate for up to one month.

12 comments:

Diana's Cocina said...

This reminds me of my childhood. My Mom always made Dulce de Leche. It was incredible! I would pour it over white rice and enjoy every bite.

Marthe said...

Oh my, I didn't think it would be that easy to make! I have two cans of sweetened milk sitting in the cupboard waiting for me to cook them, but I might try this way....

Julie said...

This is on My 50 list of things I want to make. I, too, don't want to try the can process. Very scarey. Love Alton, so this is the recipe.

Mimi said...

Great alternative to the exploding can method, which totally scares me.
Mimi

Tracey said...

How timely! I was just reading the P&Q's for next week's TWD thinking I should figure out what I'm going to do about the dulce de leche. Thanks for sharing :)

Hanaâ said...

Ooooh I just want to hold my finger under that stream of Dulce de Leche. I made it years ago and used it as a filling for chocolate truffle (made in a candy mold). It's was awesome. What are you going to use this for?

Btw, Flo Braker in "Baking for all Occasions" has a recipe for making Dulce de Leche that uses sweetened condensed milk. However her recipe, uses the oven to brown the milky mixture (no explosions, yay!). I've also seen a similar recipe of David Lebovitz' blog. Worth a try, I'd say.

Michele said...

I usually do the exploding can method, but this is a neat recipe!!

Mary said...

Looks fantastic! I'm glad you made it from scratch--it's really not difficult and less stressful than exploding cans for sure! I was lazy and used store-bought, but it didn't matter because my cookies were an epic fail anyway. I'll be back tomorrow to see yours.

Anne said...

Leslie- you're killing me! This totally homemade version looks SO delicious and then when I scrolled down and saw the blondies I want some of those, too! Keep it up (and shrug off the pie- sometimes it's just not meant to be!)

Tia said...

i saw this recipe too and i'm glad you tried it successfully, so now i have more confidence.

Pamela said...

Wow! I actually think this looks really good. I think it looks way better than the thicker stuff you get in the can. May have to give this one a try, too.

PheMom said...

Interesting. I actually didn't even know Alton had a recipe for DDL. The version I started with was actually from Nigella Lawson, and then I kind of messed with it myself. Thanks for the heads up about the Alton recipe though. It looks interesting, but different than the one I started with. I wonder if this method would have been easier (mine cooked for several hours to get as dark and thick as I wanted it).