If you are looking for an uncomplicated classical dessert, Dulce de Leche is the ultimate choice. This caramelized, creamy confection is so versatile that it’s been used in numerous ways…like a topping or as a spread or still better; spoonful of this can be relished directly from the pot.
What is Dulce de Leche?
Dulce de Leche (also known as DDL) is a milk jam that is originated from Latin America in 17th century. In Spanish, it means “sweetness of milk”. DDL is obtained when sweetened milk is simmered over slow heat till it reaches thick, velvety sauce. Its flavor and colour resembles caramel due to caramelization and Maillard reactions created in the process.
The original version of Dulce de Leche is popular in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay…but now it’s widespread in many countries under distinct names, with slight variation in taste and texture.
Some interesting names…
- In France, DDL has taken the name of Confiture de Lait.
- In Mexico, Dulce de Leche is similar to Cajeta, a milk jam made from goat’s milk.
- In Cuba, it’s called Fanguito.
- Doce de leite in Brazil and Portugal.
- In Chile and Ecuador, it is known as Manjar de Leche.
- In Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, it’s known as Manjar Blanco or Manjarblanco.
- Arequipe in Colombia and Venezuela.
Uses of Dulce de Leche
Best ways to incorporate Dulce de Leche in desserts…
- Drizzled on top of sundaes, brownies, cheesecakes, pies, waffles, pancakes and smoothies.
- As a flavouring agent in ice creams, cakes, truffles and pies.
- As a dip for fresh fruits, churros and more.
- Sandwiched between cookies, macarons and wafers.
- As a frosting on cakes and cookies.
- Stirred into coffees, milk shakes and more.
Some of the classical best selling DDL desserts are Alfajores, Tres leches cake with Dulce de Leche, Dulce de Leche Pionono cake, Dulce de Leche candy, Dulce de Leche cinnamon rolls and more.
Making of Dulce de Leche
DDL can be prepared in two ways…one is the traditional method using milk, sugar and little bit of baking soda. Sometime it is flavoured with vanilla or cinnamon. The other method is with just 1 ingredient.. that is slow cooking the sweetened condensed milk in a pressure cooker or in an oven. Though both the techniques yield rich, caramel-like sauce, the traditional version is better, as it is creamier and tastier.
Classic Dulce de Leche
Place milk, sugar and baking soda in a large vessel on stovetop. Keep the flame medium and bring it to boil. Now reduce the flame and keep stirring every now and then to avoid burning of the milk mixture. After 45 minutes, the mixture starts thickening. Keep stirring. It takes about 1 – 2 hours to reach thick, sauce-like consistency and transform to caramel-like golden colour. If required, add any flavouring agent like vanilla or cinnamon at the end.
Easy 1-ingredient method
This version is prepared using a pressure cooker. Transfer the sweetened condensed milk to a stainless steel container and close it tightly with a lid. Place a steamer basket in the pressure cooker and put the container over it. Fill the cooker with water till the container is fully immersed. Cook on high pressure till 1st whistle. Keep the flame low and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Switch off the flame. Let the pressure release or keep it undisturbed overnight.
Once the pressure gets released, gently open the container. The Dulce de Leche obtained is much thicker, sweeter and lighter in colour than the traditional version. But this method is effortless and hence it is widely followed. To follow this method, check out the step-by-step photographs given below.
Also, this version can be prepared in an Oven using water bath. It takes about 2 hours to get the right consistency but worth trying as it doesn’t need much of our attention in the process.
Dulce de Leche
- Pressure cooker
- Stainless steel container
- 400 g Sweetened condensed milk
- Transfer the sweetened condensed milk to a stainless steel container and close it with a lid tightly.
- Place a steamer basket in the pressure cooker and put the container over it.
- Fill the cooker with water till the container is fully immersed.
- Cook on high pressure till 1st whistle.
- Keep the flame low and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from flame.
- Let the pressure release or keep it undisturbed overnight.
- Once the pressure gets released, gently open the container. Mix well the DDL obtained.
- Transfer it to a sterilized jar and keep it refrigerated till use.
- If using store-bought condensed milk, avoid pressure cooking the sealed can. If the water gets dried in cooker, the can may overheat and explode. It’s always safe to transfer it to a tight steel container and pressure cook.
Whatever the method you follow, the more you cook, the thicker and darker it becomes… and it gets even thicker when it is chilled. Dulce de Leche keeps well for several months when refrigerated in sterilized jars.