Dulce de Leche (also known as manjar, manjar blanco, and arequipe), is widely adored all over South America. It's in birthday cakes, ice cream, pastries, cookies and more. Recipes vary by region, but the basic procedure is to boil milk and sugar until the mixture is a thick, golden caramel sauce. It's a slow process that is worth every minute. (See step-by-step pictorial guide).
It's easy to find commercially prepared dulce de leche, but homemade is much, much better. So get out a spoon, listen to the soccer match on the radio, and count how many times you here "Goal!" before your dulce de leche is ready.
- 1 14-ounce can of condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 12 -ounce can of evaporated milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Generous pinch of salt (optional)
- Cinnamon sticks (optional)
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Place the evaporated milk, the corn syrup, and the condensed milk in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon sticks, baking soda, and pinch of salt if desired. (Salt is not exactly traditional but helps intensify the flavor).
- Cook and stir over medium low heat. The water will begin to evaporate as steam. Stir steadily so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Adjust the temperature so that the mixture stays just barely at a simmer.
- The mixture will slowly begin to thicken and darken slightly in color. Keep stirring - this takes patience!
- Cook and stir until the mixture is making big slow bubbles and is very thick. Lift the spoon out of the pot and drizzle some of the caramel over the surface. If it forms a ribbon that does not disappear after 10 seconds or so, it is ready. Also check by dragging the spoon along the bottom of the pot. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds before the thickened mixture closes in on itself and covers the bottom. The mixture will have been simmering for 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks, and stir in the vanilla.
- Let cool completely and serve.
Tip: If the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, you can quickly change to a fresh pan. If there are burnt pieces already mixed in, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the clean pot, and continue cooking and stirring.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.