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Argentinian Dulce de Leche

dulce de leche

My first taste of dulce de leche was about 15 years ago at an Argentinian restaurant in my home town of Louisville, Kentucky. It was the topping on their wonderful flan.

History of Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche can be traced back as far as 1829 and rumor has it Argentina and Uraguay once fought over the right to claim it as their own. Regardless of the veracity in either’s claim, all stories agree on one thing. Like penecillin, plastic, x-rays, chocolate chip cookies and many other great inventions, it was an accident. Someone placed sweetened milk on the stove and forgot about it, returning later to find a thickened, browned delight.

The literal translation from spanish is “candy milk”, which is created by caramelization and the maillard reaction. These two processes are the result of chemical reactions between amino acids and sugars that cause browning and concentrate flavors.

Dulce de leche sauce and caramel sauce are used interchangeably for many recipes, but for my palate the former tastes much sweeter than the latter. This recipe was furnished courtesy of Frank and Federico Elbl, the former owners of Palermo Viejo.

  • Author: TJ
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 105
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1-1/2 - 2 cups 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 liter of milk (4-1/4 cups)
  • 300 grams of sugar (1-1/3 cup)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 pinch baking soda (less than 1/4 teaspoon)

Instructions

  1. Whisk everything together in a saucepan
  2. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds and add to the mixture, then add in the bean pod
  3. Bring to a boil until it gains a little color, then remove the pod
  4. Reduce the heat to barely a simmer and stir just frequently enough to preveny burning for up to two hours max until it reaches a deep caramel color
  5. Warning: Cooking beyond the point where visible steaming is ocurring and stirring too much will create a very thick and grainy sauce

Dulce 2

And just one more thing…

Don’t think you can forget this on the stove and return to a perfect sauce. That’s why they call inventions such as these accidents! Pay attention though and you can have something that tastes just as good.

Notes

Thanks to Craig Newman, brother-in-law of Frank and Federico Elbl for sharing their recipe with me.

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