I used to be a massive fan of taking shortcuts when cooking. I even have a cookbook titled Faking It. You know sometimes it’s much easier buying the ingredients, doing less cooking and more rearranging on a plate. However more recently when I’ve had the time and energy to devote an afternoon or a late night to cooking, sometimes I’d like to take up the challenge of doing something from scratch.
Which brings me to the…Ah yes… the ubiquitous South American Caramel, Dulce de Leche, or Manjar Blanco as some would call it. Both names I can’t pronounce very well but I do know it’s damn tasty. On toast, with fruit, as cake filling, it’s multipurposefulness is a natural extension of its caramel moreishness.
But the most common way that people make it at home is by boiling a can of condensed milk. I think that’s kinda cheating a little. So this is the pure way, the long way, the way that needs utmost Zen and patience, because you’ll be at the stovetop stirring this concoction for the better part of an hour. Play some music, watch a film, think of it as cooking led meditation.
Dulce de Leche
(makes around 750ml)
1 litre full cream milk
40g brown sugar
30g glucose syrup (or corn syrup)
1/2 tablespoon salt
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (aka Baking Soda)
In a medium pot add the butter, 1 cup of the milk, sugar, bicarb soda and the vanilla. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
When the mixture turns a caramel colour add another cup of milk and the brown sugar. Continue stirring. When the mixture thickens and darkens again add another cup of milk.
Once thickened again add the rest of the milk, salt and the glucose syrup. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the mixture is thick and custardy.
Leave to cool before pouring into a bowl or jar.
Try and keep your hands off it for it to last a couple of months in the fridge.