Homemade Dulce de Leche

Monday, February 10, 2014

I know, I know. You deserve to be angry with me and I deserve every word of criticism!

Only a few days ago, in my last post, I was all about dieting and loosing weight and now I am posting on how to make your own Dulce de Leche. I am obviously not offering you a lot of help if you are really on a diet. 

Please forgive me! It is not entirely my fault. You see I am blessed with friends and relatives in Greece who every time I ask them to send me an ingredient that's not available in Zagreb, not only do they oblige but sometimes do so in excess. Just before Christmas, I asked a friend who was going to Athens for the holidays to bring me back a couple of cans of sweetened condensed milk. It is not available in Zagreb and I had my mind set on making small jars of Dulce de Leche to give out as gifts. She came back, a week after the New Year, with not two but SIX cans. She wasn't sure which brand was the best so she bought two of each brand she found in the supermarket!! Bless her!! 

In the meantime, I might have mentioned in passing my intentions to my sister, who is ever so helpful and supportive of me and my Box of Stolen Socks, and within days after the first six cans of milk arrived, I opened a parcel containing four more. Total cans of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry at the moment: TEN! 

There is going to be a lot of dulce de leche making in this kitchen for a long time!  

For those who don't know what this lovely, sweet concoction is, I am going to explain. 

It is something like caramelised milk jam! Yes, you read right, it is a sweet, creamy, caramel milky jam! It is made from sweetened milk which is cooked slowly until most of the water in the milk evaporates and the sugar caramelises. 

It is very popular in Latin America, hence the name, but you can find versions of it from Norway to the Philippines. 

The most basic recipe calls for slowly simmering milk and sugar for at least two hours stirring them constantly. Excuse me but this seems an eternity to spent in front of the stove and in any case I have way too many cans of sweetened condensed milk sitting in my pantry, so I opted for the version using those instead of fresh milk. 

I have a few recipes in which the can of milk is boiled, unopened, in water for 2 to 3 hours. But to tell you the truth I was not very comfortable with the idea of having any sort of pressurised hot caramel boiling in my kitchen for such a long time. A more thorough search of my recipe database came up with a less dangerous and virtually hassle free way of making this delectable sweet treat. 

Australian chef Donna Hay uses this easy technique of actually baking the milk in a double boiler in the oven. Ingenious! No muscle burn from endless hours of stirring or third degree burns from hot caramel explosions! It is so simple you will want to make dulce de leche everyday! And you know what you don't have to eat it if you don't want to ruin your diet! Just do as I did. Pour the hot caramel sauce into small sterilised jars and gift it to your friends. It is not pink or red but there is nothing sweeter than a jar of homemade dulce de leche for your Valentine!

Homemade Dulce de Leche
Recipe from Donna Hay
Make 2 cups

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, 395gr each

Preheat oven to 425F/220C degrees. 

Pour the condensed milk into an ovenproof baking dish and cover it very tightly with foil. 

Place it in a larger, deeper ovenproof baking dish or baking tray and fill it with boiling water until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the sides of the dish.

Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. The milk should turn into caramel and become darker in colour. Spoon into sterilised glass jars. 

You can keep it in the fridge for up to 1 month.