Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche is one of those confections that you want to take with you when you go to bed to read. I know, it’s not one of the most romantic thoughts but believe me, a spoon and a jar of this deliciousness will keep you very happy and content on your own. It is a rich caramel sauce that originated in South America and when translated from Spanish, literally means “sweet milk”.

Authentic Dulce de Leche is made by boiling goats milk and sugar together. It is tricky to make and you literally have to watch it the whole time as it easily catches on the heat.

The closest thing that we in South Africa have to it, is the tinned Caramel Treat or “boiled” condensed milk. I have fond memories from my childhood, eating slightly warm condensed milk, cooked for hours in boiling water. I also have memories of frightening stories where the boiling hot cans exploded and traumatised everyone who was around to witness it! Whether these tales are true or not, I have always felt threatened by the idea of making my own caramel. The other deterring factor is of course the pull-cans which makes it impossible to immerse in a pot of boiling water.

Making this thick, gooey yumminess yourself has the advantage of you being able to control how dark and how runny you want the caramel to be. You can control the consistency to make a delicious light caramel sauce which you can pour onto ice cream and desserts or you can opt for a nutty brown colour and produce a true masterpiece for sandwiching cakes, biscuits or as the Spanish do, spread it on your morning toast! This IS a case of home made being far superior to the convenient tinned version…

1 can condensed milk, or two!

Preheat your oven to 180℃.

Decant the condensed milk into a ceramic baking dish and seal it tightly with aluminium foil.

You now need to cook the condensed milk in a Bain Marie which is a simple water bath:

Place the ceramic dish with the foil into a baking tray and pour enough very hot water into it to reach halfway up the sides of the dish.

Carefully place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 90 minutes before peeking to see what colour and consistency your caramel sauce is. Keep in mind that the mixture will set when cooled and that it will be a lot firmer than what it is while hot. If you want your caramel darker, simply cover the dish and put it back into the oven.

The above photograph is the colour of two tins of condensed milk that has been in the oven for two hours. I like this consistency for sandwiching cakes together as it is easy to spread and does not break the crumb of the cake, but firm enough to hold up.

Once you remove the caramel from the oven, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before giving it a really good whisk to remove any lumpiness.

Allow to cool completely before decanting it into a glass jar.

The Dulce de Leche can now be stored in the fridge.

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