Dulce de leche is popular caramelized milk sweet from Latin America. This is prepared by heating sweetened milk on low flame for a long time till the milk thickens to form caramelized milk. This sweet is known by different names in the neighboring regions, which include Chile Ecuador and Panama, where it is known as “Manjar” and as Manjar Blanco or “Arequipe” in Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. It is known as “Cajeta” in Mexico and Nicaragua and as “Doce de leite” in Portugal. This thickened sweetened milk is included in many desserts of South American cuisines, including Uruguay and Argentina.
Dulce de leche has many culinary uses, especially in desserts -
- Used as a topping on muffins.
- Used for flavoring candies and baked foods such as cakes, cookies, etc.
- Used for flavoring ice creams and crème caramel.
- Used as topping on toasts, breakfast rolls and pancakes.
- Used in pies to give a toffee flavor.
Ingredients and Preparation
Dulce de leche is prepared by heating sweetened milk on a low flame till it reduces and thickens to a spreadable consistency. A pinch of sea salt is added along with cinnamon sticks (for flavoring). Some people even add corn syrup and vanilla essence. When the milk reduces to almost one-sixth of its original volume, it reaches the desired thickness. Caramelization and Maillard reaction cause the milk to thicken.
Note: Condensed milk can also be used instead of sweetened milk, for making this sweet.
Popular Dishes Made with Dulce de leche
Dulce de leche Brownies –
Chocolate pieces are added to melted butter, stirring constantly. When they have melted, the chocolate is taken off the stove and cocoa powder is stirred in and the contents are mixed till smooth. Eggs are added gradually along with sugar and vanilla essence. This is followed by adding the flour. Nuts can be added, if desired. Half of the batter is poured into the greased pan, which is topped with dulce de leche, which is twirled with a knife and the remaining batter is poured on top. This is again topped with a little dulce de leche, which is twirled with the knife. This dish is baked to result in delicious brownie.
Dulce de leche Cheesecake Squares –Please do not give such detailed recipe instructions
A greased baking dish is layered with a smooth cracker mixture (of crackers, sugar, butter and a pinch of salt). This is topped with a mixture of eggs, cream cheese, gelatin mixture (gelatin and milk), dulce de leche and a little salt. The dish is baked in a hot water bath and when done it is refrigerated. When the cake cools down, it is glazed on top and cut into squares.
Dulce de leche Recipe Variations
Vegan Dulce de Leche – This vegan dish is made with ingredients that are purely vegan and of natural sources. Because of the absence of any synthetically produced ingredient, this dish is not only healthy, but also delicious. It is made with canned coconut milk mixed with brown sugar and pandan leaves. The contents are simmered till they reach the rolling ball stage and when it has cooled; the leche is stored in airtight containers.
Confiture de lait – This is a French version of dulce le leche. This thick caramel sauce is mostly used as a condiment, apart from being used as a spread on breads and pastries. It is also used as an accompaniment with various other dishes. This sweet is also flavored with vanilla or brandy, as desired.
Hamar Palegg – This is a Norwegian version of the sweet. It is prepared in the same manner; however, it is not as sweet as dulce de leche, but is thicker.
Basundi – This is an Indian version of the sweet, which is less condensed and has a flavoring of cardamom. It is generally served as a dessert.
Dulce de Leche is a high calorie sweet with a fat content of almost 23% and around 10% cholesterol. However, it is high in calcium (about 25%) and protein (about 14%). It also contains a good amount of potassium (about 7%).