Ah my, I’ve been a busy little bee. Margaret’s been sick with a fever for two days so I’ve been under house arrest. Thursday I painted the walls of my bedroom as she cuddled down under the covers in our big bed. We listened to “The Snow Queen” from The Classic Tales podcast and slowly she fell asleep. Friday she felt better, but only as long as she had ibuprofen on board. We baked cookies and I made what my mother called “Difficult Dessert”. It was called “difficult” because it is simplicity itself to make.
I have later encountered Difficult Dessert as some obscure and at time exotic thing called dulce de leche. Oh. You already knew that from the title.
Dulce de leche has exactly what Margaret loves. It’s sweet, it’s creamy, it’s made from milk. But how do you make it? Well, the abuelitas may make it from milk and sugar in an open pot with hours and hours of stirring and careful attention, but then this wouldn’t be “difficult” in the sarcastic sense, now would it.
Start with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I bought store brand, but you could invest in The Good Stuff and get Carnation or Red Rose or whichever brand is locally available.
But whatever you do, don’t open it. Leave the can sealed but remove the label. Well, you can leave the label but it will come off and make things yucky. Put the can in a pot, cover with water, and simmer.
Be sure to put the can in before the water is hot, otherwise you risk a very hot splashback. Also be sure to have the water cover the can.
Yup, let that puppy simmer for a long time. I did only two hours, but for the last half hour I was going back and forth from my room upstairs with paint-covered hands as I did a second coat of paint on the crown molding. you can let it go as long as three hours or maybe even longer. The longer it simmers the deeper the caramelization, and the firmer the dulce de leche is.
(Iiinteresting. My spell check offers cannibalization or capitalization as better spellings of caramelization.)
If this is cannibalization I’ll eat it!
Is this when I tell you that “dulce” means sweet in Spanish? Or that “leche” is milk? Or is there really anyone who doesn’t know what “leche” means? No, you don’t care about the name, the real question is what does it taste like and how does one eat it?
My mother used to put spoonfuls in a bowl and then pour milk on top. Eat with a spoon. I could see spreading it between two cookies to make a sandwich cookie, or maybe piping it into a cupcake. It might be too sweet for that.
It tastes sweet and like caramel, but a gentle caramel. the texture is very very smooth. There is no graininess at all.