Posts Tagged ‘dulce de leche from scratch’

When I posted recently about making dulce de leche from condensed milk, Adriana and Rebecca were kind enough to give me recipes for cooking it from first principles using full cream milk and sugar.  How could I resist?

It’s a long process, but an easy one, particularly if you have to be in the kitchen for a few hours anyway, as I did last night.  And the end result is very different to the microwave version – it’s soft, silky and deep caramel brown – the long cooking time imbues it with a richness in colour and flavour that can’t be achieved by the quicker process.  Both have their place, but oh my, this slow cooked milk jam was really something else…

  • 4 litres full cream milk (I used UHT)
  • 1 kilogram white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (we used homemade)

1. In a very large stock pot, pour all the ingredients and bring to boil over a high heat.  Make sure it’s a big pot, as four litres of milk rising up in a rolling boil can be quite intimidating otherwise! Don’t go anywhere, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t boil over.  At the beginning you’ll need to stand there and adjust the heat up and down as required, while you stir, to ensure the pot doesn’t overflow, but after a while the milk will settle into a regular boil.

2. Boil until the milk changes colour and reduces in volume.  The instructions here were a little vague, but we basically boiled the pot over a high heat until it had reduced by half, which took about an hour.  Over that time, the colour gradually darkened to a light milk coffee shade.

3. Turn the heat down and cook the milk over medium to medium-low until it darkens even further and thickens, watching it carefully and stirring often to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  If you’re not able to be diligent, it’s probably best to turn the heat down to  very low at this point, making sure you come back to stir it regularly.  This stage took another ¾ hour.

4. Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat down to very low, stirring frequently, until the dulce de leche turns a medium to dark caramel brown.  It needs to be fussed over at this point, to ensure it doesn’t scorch and burn.  The finished product is very hot (don’t ask me how I know) and has a thick pouring consistency.  It will set up further as it cools.  Total cooking time was about 2½ hours.  Rebecca suggests that you stir in a few tablespoons of honey at this point, but Pete’s not a particular fan, so we left it out.

5. Finally, fill the sink with a few inches of cold water, and sit the pot into it, being careful not to splash water into the caramel.  Stir the mixture for a few minutes – Adriana’s recipe says that this thickens the mixture, but I suspect the main aim is to stop it from cooking further and burning (as I said, at this stage, it’s very hot!).

Our four litres of milk produced five and a half jars of wickedly good dulce de leche .  One jar has gone to Maude, another to Patrick, and the remainder are tucked away safely in the fridge.  Now the fun starts – planning what to do with it!

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