Throughout the world, milk caramel, or dulce du leche, as it is called in Spain, is known and loved. In France it is called confiture de lait, in Mexico Cajeta. The Portuguese call it Doce de Leite. In Chile it is known as Manjar. A Norwegian version, Hamar pålegg (“Cold cut from Hamar”), better known as HaPå, a is thicker, less sweet version.
By any name this lovely, sticky, caramelized sugar confection is a comforting delight to consume and it couldn’t be easier to make. It only requires one ingredient and preparing this delicacy will not dirty any pans.
To make this, follow these steps:
remove the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk.
Here is a can from the cocina at Mia Ojo, condensed milk is a staple in all Mexican despensa de la cocinas (pantries). The message on the can translates into something like, “and the imagination wanders”.
Place the can in a large saucepan filled with water, with at least 3 inches of water above the can. Turn the heat up to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil reduce the heat to a slow bubble.
Now, allow it to continue lightly bubbling away for 2-3 hours. Now. the VERY IMPORTANT thing is to keep adding water, there must always be a couple of inches of water above the can or it could explode!
After 2 hours the dolce will be creamy and soft, at 3 hours it will be thick and gooey.
Once the can has cooled, open it up and dip in a spoon — extreme lusciousness will be yours.
The dulce du leche can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for a week or so.
Now, what to do with this can of delight? It is lovely over ice cream, sprinkled with a handful of salty Spanish Peanuts.
It is marvelous mixed in milk, then steamed and stirred to make a creamy-dreamy leche of love (add espresso as desired).
For a simple composed dessert, mound a pile of dulce du leche in the center of a plate and surround it with strawberries, shortbread cookies, salty Spanish peanuts, and add a chocolate spoon (honestly, I don’t know where I got these cute little chocolate spoons, so I can’t tell you, but if you don’t happen to have chocolate spoons in your despensa de la cocina, squares of chocolate will do nicely).
Serve it up and invite your diners to dig into the dulce.
Kids love this sweet little science experiment, the cooked can is a great treat to bring to Spanish class.
Keep a few cans of evaporated milk in the cupboard, so you’ll always be ready to boil!