I’m firmly ensconced in study land at the moment, which means any recipe that is a bit time consuming and smacks of procrastination is doubly enticing. Stirring a pot of sugary milk for two and a half hours seems infinitely preferable to learning how to calculate Capital Acquisitions Tax. I’ve also rearranged the cutlery drawer, my kitchen cupboard, planted up a window box and tabbed the bejaysus out of all of my textbooks in lieu of actually reading them.
Dulce de leche (milk jam/confiture de lait) is a thick, creamy caramel substance made from cooked milk and sugar. It can be thick and spreadable, or more liquid and pourable. It features heavily in South America but is still a bit niche in Ireland.
The cooking process needs a bit of a trial and error approach. I looked to both Smitten Kitchen and Farmette’s recipes, which cautioned against both too little and too much heat. At first I erred on the side of caution and kept mine very low. I’m still getting the hang of temperature control on my new gas stove. After a while I realised nothing was happening and turned up the heat. Soon the colour started to change and things started to happen. Something just above a gentle simmer seems to be the best approach. This recipe doesn’t make a huge amount considering the amount of milk involved, you end up with about 300ml or so of dulche de leche. The length of cooking time depends on the consistency you want, whether it is pouring and a bit liquid, or thick and slightly jelly-like.
- 1 litre full fat milk
- 300g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- Put all the ingredients in a high sided pot or saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, being careful not to let it bubble over, as the milk can very suddenly rise dramatically.
- Lower the heat, and cook on a medium-low heat for 1.5-2.5 hours, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
- Leave to cool, and store in the fridge in a clean jar for up to one week.