It is believed that in 1829 in Argentina, a serving woman was preparing “La Lechada” (made with milk and sugar) for an army camp. She went out of the kitchen for something urgent and forgot about the La Lechada on the stove. When she came back to the kitchen, she saw that the milk became thick and brown. Someone around tasted it and it tasted great! That’s the history of Dulce de Leche, which was born by accident!
Dulce de leche is known by different names in different countries, and even the colour ranges from pale cream to intense brown. Not only that, the flavor and the texture are also not exactly the same in these countries. In Mexico, it is called cajeta, made with a combination of goat’s milk and cow’s milk, with cinnamon as an optional ingredient. In Colombia, Panama and Venezuela, it is known as arequipe, meaning, “milk pudding.” Eucador and Chile’s manjar and Peru’s manjar blanco are paler versions because of the mild caramelisation of the milk. The Bolivian manjar blancois a heavier version, owing to the addition of ground rice or rice flour. The French call it confiture de lait or the “milk jam.”
Everytime I taste this awesomeness, I love it. Honestly, I am addicted to this now and as I write this post, I feel like grabbing another can of homemade Dulce de Leche and finishing it off just like that! It is amazing to think that how a combination of milk and sugar can transform a simple mixture into something so scrumptious and unique. Richer the milk, better the Dulce de Leche. Vegans can use thickened and sweetened coconut milk instead of condensed milk. You do not need any fancy equipment for making this dessert. A crock pot or an electric rice cooker will serve the purpose. Some do it in the microwave as well.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
- Sweetened condensed milk: 1 can
The crock pot method (the method I used here):
Place upto three sealed cans of sweetened condensed milk in slow cooker. Add enough water in the cooker to submerge the cans by atleast 1 inch. If the cans are not submerged, these can burst. Cook on low for 4 h. Let the cans come to room temperature completely before opening.
The oven method:
Preheat oven to 420⁰F. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish. Cover and seal with aluminium foil. Place baking dish in a larger pan, filled with hot water, so that the inner baking dish is atleast half-submerged into the water. Cook for about 50 min. When you remove the foil, the colour should change to rich caramel brown. If the colour is not achieved, continue for another 10 min and then check again. Remove from oven when done and let it cool. This should be stored in the fridge for atleast one month.
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