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Jan 6, 2005 08:26 AM

dulce de leche recipe?

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hello and happy new year! does anyone out there have a tried and proven recipe for the dessert dulce de leche? i've heard the dessert also being referred as sweet milk, milk jam and caramel spread. thanks chowhounds!

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  1. this may not be the most authentic, but it's easy. pressure cook a couple cans of sweetened condensed milk for about 10 minutes. (check one to see if it's set- i can't remember the exact time) let cool. open and beat with beaters, adding milk to achieve desired consistency.

    my mother is argentine, and this is what we do at home. doesn't compare to the stuff we get in argentina, but is a pretty good substitute, and the best available in our area!

    1 Reply
    1. re: babcock

      I've never done it with a pressure cooker. My recipe is to drop an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk into a pot of boiling water and let it boil for about 1.5 - 2 hours. You may need to add water to make sure the can is completely submerged. Then let it cool. Note: every can of condensed milk says that you should not do this. So try it at your own risk.

    2. It is quite tedious if you want to make if from scratch using raw milk and sugar (involves hours of slow cooking and stirring). The quick and easy method of boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for a couple of hours (the longer your boil, the more caramel-like it becomes) produces a reasonable version, especially if you plan to incorporate it into something else.

      The easiest option by far is just to find a latin grocery store and buy it in a jar - there is a very good Argentinian brand that is widely available, but the name escapes me (glass jars with blue label). Or you can even find Nestle's(?) already-boiled sweetened condensed milk in a can next to their regular sweetened condensed milk in large supermarket in some areas. However, their stuff is not as good as the argentinian product.

      1 Reply
      1. re: summertime

        Havanna (two n's) is probably the top high-end Argentine brand. It's fairly widely available here. A reasonable alternative would be Mexican cajeta, which I prefer in many cases given it's sharper taste (because it's made with goat's milk).

        I've heard that the pressure cooker method works ok. But I question the benefit of "making" this stuff yourself when you almost invariably will be starting with a can of Borden's condensed milk or some other milk product that isn't as good for the task as what the Latin American commercial producers start with. Considering the time, hassle and danger, this doesn't seem like a great home cooking idea.

        It's good stuff, though. With some queso blanco and quince or guava paste, it makes a nice dessert. Or warm on vanilla ice cream. Or with a spoon out of the jar.

      2. Just to emphasize two safety points:

        1. Never open the can after cooking until it has completely cooled. The contents are under pressure and will spurt out and burn you.

        2. Always keep the water level comfortably over the can level. If the water drops below the can level, the can can explode.

        I use the stovetop method and it is simple and delicious.

        1. It's not that complicated to make, though it does take a while. It's been a while, but if I remember right it was just a nice golden-brown caramel, cooled slightly, then slowly add goat's milk (yes, goat's milk), then cook down to the proper consistency.

          I think the recipe was from Rick Bayless. I don't have that book anymore or I'd look it up. Perhaps someone else can find it for you.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pete-Man

            The recipe I am familiar with simply combines milk, sugar and a touch of baking soda which are then cooked for several hours with frequent stirring. And cow milk is the standard ingredient.

            1. re: summertime

              Cow's milk probably is more common, yes, particularly in the US and Argentina, where cattle is king. In Mexico (where the sauce is called "cajeta", or occasionally "leche quemada" -- "burnt milk"), it seems like goat's milk is not uncommon. Having tried it, I think it's pretty interesting, and worth repeating.

              It's still basically a caramel sauce made with milk or cream. I think I tried it with a stick or two of canela for added interest.

          2. My Argentinean friends say everyone they know buys it in a jar. Their favorite brand is La Salmandra, which I've seen here. You can also mail order it from Zingerman's.