Friday, May 2, 2014

Dulce de leche in a can

I first came across this back in my college days, when my roommate Peter, an American who lived in Brazil, made this according to his Brazilian mother's recipe.

He took small cans of sweetened condensed milk, placed them in a pot, covered them in water, and simmered them over low heat on a hotplate for several hours in our dormitory room.  When opened, the cans contained a caramel-colored cream, dulce de leche.  (As his reference point was Brazilian, I don't recall him using that term, a Spanish phrase, but that's what it was.)

Dulce de leche has become the flavor "It Girl," and can be found everywhere, it seems -- yogurt, ice cream, cookies, cocktails.

I ran out of half-and-half last week, and popped open a can of Borden's Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk for my coffee. Eh, it was ok (cafe con leche!), but I'm not fond of that "cooked" milk flavor that SCM and its cousin, evaporated milk, impart to coffee.

So, I covered up the can, and popped it back into the fridge.

I'm frugal by nature, so rather than throw the stuff away, I decided to try to make some dulce de leche.  The can was already open, so I covered it tightly with some aluminum foil, then set it into my 12-qt pasta pot, with the strainer insert.  Added water to the pot, brought it to a simmer, lowered the heat, covered it, and let it steam for about 90 minutes.  When I came back, the water had fully evaporated.  I was a bit surprised by that, considering there were about 4 quarts of water in the pot, and it was on a very low flame.

I removed the foil-covered can with my jar lifter (same one I use for putting up jams), removed the foil, and eureka! there was dulce de leche.  Perfectly done. 

Doing it again, I'd be sure to check on the water level, but no harm, no foul this time around.

Once cooled, it's thick and caramel-y, and great spread between a couple crackers, or on toast.  If I only had some ice cream in the house, I'd try it on that....

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