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Making "dulce de leche"

November 23, 2008

Living on a dairy farm there's one thing we have plenty of: milk!

What can you do with plenty of milk? Well here's one thing: make dulce de leche - "sweet milk" Argentinian style. It's a delicious caramel-like spread that can be used on cakes, pastries or even toast.

There are plenty of recipes for DDL around on the net, but they all seem to differ a little so I think you have to be a bit flexible with the cooking times in order to come up with the right sort of mixture.

We went for the following mix:

  • 4-5 litres of whole milk
  • 1.3 kg of white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • a dash of vanilla

Cinnamon can be used instead of vanilla for a slightly different taste.

Start off by mixing the milk, sugar and vanilla together in a big pot and heat it into a boil. Then reduce the heat down to the minimum amount necessary to keep the mixture simmering and let it simmer for a couple of hours while stirring it regularly.

Next, sprinkle the baking soda over the mix and stir it in slowly. The baking soda will help to thicken the mixture and turn it into the classic caramel-brown colour of dulce de leche.

Cooking dulce de leche

Keep the mixture simmering for a few hours so that it reduces down to about 1/3 to 1/2 of it's initial volume and be sure to stir it regularly (but slowly) so that the bottom of the pot doesn't burn.

Don't let the mixture get too thick though because it will further thicken once it cools. The recipes that I saw recommended 3-5 hours of simmering but our dulce de leche took a little longer that that. In fact we let cooked it for about 4 hours the first day, let it stand over night, then decided that that it needed another couple of hours the next day.

Dulce de leche stored in a container

Eventually we had a nice, thick spread of caramelly dulce de leche! Since we started with about 5 litres of milk we ended up with maybe 2 litres of creamy mixture.

Into some plastic containers it went, then into the fridge where it can keep for several weeks (so I'm told).

Pouring dulce de leche on toast

Ok, now that we've made some dulce de leche what can we do with it? It's a bit too sweet to eat on it's own but it's great for cooking into cakes, etc., or even easier - it can be used as a topping for ice cream or even good old toast.

That's right - dulce de leche on toast makes a great start to the day! Many argentinians prepare themselves a tostada con dulce de leche to accompany their mate (tea) drink each morning.

Tostada con dulce de leche

If you can't be bothered with the time and hassle of making dulce de leche yourself then the good news is that you can buy it ready made in pottles.

You're unlikely to find it in a typical NZ supermarket but you can order dulce de leche online here and have it delivered to your house!

There's plenty more that can be cooked with DDL. Check back here soon for some delicious recipes using the mixture that we made.


[ Click to add a comment ]
xandy said on 9-Aug-2009,
I think it's easy. I can make this. Thanks for sharing.
Cristian Avondet said on 15-Dec-2009,
hello, my name is cristian, are you from Uruguay, the dulce de leche is tipical food is Uruguay and Argentina...
good bye
A year on the farm said on 15-Dec-2009,
Hi Cristian,
no - I'm not from Uruguay, but I've travelled to Argentina and hope to visit Uruguay one day too.
John said on 12-Feb-2010,
Your photos makes me salivate for sweets - anything sweet! Really sweet!
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