Dulce de Leche is one more fine contribution to my culinary education from the south of the border school. It is fine sauce and since the previous post was about cheesecake, the finest dairy concoction, I thought of staying in the same mood. Diary stuff. Dulce de leche was a way of preserving milk in a similar way that jams and preserves are to preserve fruit. I assume that this is the way dulce was envisioned and started. It probably originated rom the la lecheda, a warm sugar and milk beverage, drunk in Argentina. As a sauce dulce de leche resembles caramel but since the major sweetness comes from lactose, the milk sugar, it is not as overwhelming and the flavor is a little more delicate.
It was interesting to find out what others have to say about it. I republish the story with all the authenticity doubts, but also with a faithful heart. It is said that Dulce de Leche originated in Argentina in 1829 in the providence of Cañuelas in Buenos Aires. Two opposing forces were on the brink of ending a war. The General Lavalle and the General Manuel de Rosas came together in order to make a treaty. The General Lavalle arrived very tired at the camp of General Manuel de Rosas. Manuel de Rosas wasn’t in the camp at the moment so General Lavalle entered into his tent and took a nap.
While the General Lavalle was napping a serving woman was preparing “la lechada” for the camp. The woman went to speak with the General Manuel de Rosas in his tent, but when she entered she discovered the enemy. She didn’t know about the treaty the two generals were about to make, so she ran to find soldiers. The General Manuel de Rosas arrived moments before the soldiers, and stopped them from waking the sleeping General Lavalle. In the chaos, the woman forgot about “la lechada.” When she remembered and checked on “la lechada,” she noticed that it had become a dark brown jelly substance. It is said that a very brave and hungry soldier tried the jelly and then dulce de leche was born.
Although it obvious that the main ingredients are the milk and the sugar, there are a couple of more items that go in.
- 1/2 galon of milk (abotu 2 ltr)
- 3 cups of sugar (you can go up to 4 but I find it a bit to sweet or you measured 2 ltrs of milk)
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 1 tsp of baking soda
Start by adding the milk in the pot.
Follow that with the sugar
Split the vanilla and…
Scrape of the beans.
Follow that with one tsp of the baking soda. A word on this. The baking soda will reduce the pH. This will counter act the curdling effect the heat will have on the milk proteins. It is an insurance policy against the curdling. If you skip it it will not effect anything but you will need aggressive heat management.
It will foam up after the addition of the soda so you will need to be on alert.
Reduce the heat to medium low.
Keep on gently stirring with e spatula to make sure you scrape of the bottom. This thing burns pretty bad on the bottom of the pan.
At this time is good to take out the vanilla bean. Continue to reduce the solution till it comes down to a near two cups (1/4 of the orginal milk volume. The vanilla bean still has something to give.
Rinse them dry them and stick them in sugar.
Stain to remove any unappetizing milk curdle and store in mason jars for ever… Like it will last for ever.
Serve it on anything you like, bread, cake, cheesecake, ice cream, muffins, fruits, in coffee, steak… ok not steak but everything else.