Dulce de leche is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a substance that derives its flavour from the Maillard reaction, also changing colour, with an appearance and flavour similar to caramel.
Literally translated, it means "candy [made] of milk" or "sweet [made] of milk". Its origin is a highly debated topic and it is popular in most Latin American countries.
[Definition taken from Wikipedia.]
In a simpler explanation, dulce de leche is a thick sweet creamy caramel-looking spread/jam that you make by cooking milk and sugar on low heat until it thickens and the color changes from milky white to dark caramel.
And yes, it is extremely well known in Latin American countries. In Argentina they call it dulce de leche, in Chile they call it manjar and other Latin American countries have their own reference for it. Here in Spain it's called dulce de leche.
I mainly use 2 types of dulce de leche. Regular dulce de leche and bakers dulce de leche. Regular dulce de leche is simply called dulce de leche and is thinner in texture and is suitable for spreading on bread, toast, waffles and such.
Bakers dulce de leche (dulce de leche repostero/pastelero in Spanish) on the other hand, is thicker and is always used in bakeries for pastries, fillings for cakes and such. It is also a bit pricier than the normal dulce de leche.
So, the one to buy depends on what you want to eat it with.
Where To Get It?
Well, it's not that easy to get..depending where you live. My husband and his family are from Argentina, so they love dulce de leche from Argentina. Well I can imagine. They say they have yet to find any here in our city.
There is an Argentine shop in Malaga, selling Argentine products but yea, it's a several hours of drive to go there. One day, when we have time we will definitely go.
We get our stock of bakers dulce de leche that we use to make Argentine alfajores, from our nearby supermarket. It is not made in Argentina, I think it is made in France, but it does the trick.
The dulce de leche that we eat with our waffles for example, is available in our local supermarkets as well, again not from Argentina but made here in Europe.
There are a few brands available in Spain, but we love Chimbote the best (nope, this is not a paid article). I would say that it's not that difficult for us to find dulce de leche in our city. Not all supermarkets have them but yes, we can find them somewhere somehow.
How about those who can't find any in their cities and buying them online is like paying a price of a house. Well in the video below I will show you the easiest way to make your homemade dulce de leche. It's not exactly the same as the dulce de leche we buy, but it's the closest that it gets to it in terms of taste and texture.
So if you're interested in that, keep on reading.
Making Your Own
First of all, you need to be very very careful when doing this. I'm not saying you're making a nuclear b**mb but yes, you do need to be careful.
First of all, just get a can of condensed milk. Any brand, it doesn't matter. Do take out the paper wrapping of the can before proceeding though. You can make several cans at a time, the cooking time will be the same.
Then find a pot that is big enough to cover the height and more, of the condensed milk can when it's laid on its side. Place the can on its side in the pot. Fill the pot with water until 2 inches above the can. Bring the water to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 3 hours.
Keep checking every 30 minutes to see the water level. The water level SHOULD NOT at any time, be below the can level. Keep adding water as needed, during the cooking time. If the water level is below the can, you might risk the can exploding.
That's what I meant in the beginning that you need to be careful. So remember about the water level. Put an alarm every 30 minutes and check on it.
When it has passed 3 hours, GENTLY remove the can from the water and leave the can to COOL COMPLETELY. DO NOT try to open the can while it's still hot or even warm. Completely cool, that's how it need to be. You might risk unwanted incident if you try opening the can when it's still hot/warm.
I'm not trying to scare you, just reminding you to be careful.
Well after the can has completely cooled, open it and enjoy! See? It's easy to make. Just need to be careful while doing it. The texture of this dulce de leche with this method, is a bit similar to bakers dulce de leche. It's a bit thicker than normal dulce de leche. Keep it in the fridge to a longer life span.
If you need some inspiration on what to cook with dulce de leche, here are some ideas from my recipes:
- Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Brownies
- Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
- Banana Waffles with Dulce de Leche
- Classic Argentine Alfajores
- Dulce de leche cones
How to Make Dulce De Leche
- 1 can condensed milk
- water , as needed
- Take out the paper wrapper of the condensed milk. Place it on its side, in a pot big enough to cover the can until 2 inches height. Fill the pot with water until 2 inches above the can. Bring it to simmer, cover the pot and cook for 3 hours.
- Check the water level every 30 minutes. The water level SHOULD NOT at any time, be below the can. Keep adding hot water as needed. After 3 hours, remove the can from the pot and leave it to COOL COMPLETELY. Do not open it while it's still hot/warm.
- When the can has cooled completely, open it and enjoy!