Dulce de leche

Dulce de leche

Doce de leite

By
From
Lisbon
Makes
2 × 400 g
Photographer
Steven Joyce

I like to make quite large quantities of this and keep it in sealed, sterilised jars in the fridge, or give it as gifts at Christmas. If you want to make less, reduce the cooking time by 15 minutes or so.

Using condensed milk is only a partial cheat. It takes about seven hours to make doce de leite from scratch by slowly reducing and caramelising whole milk and sugar, but making it with condensed milk (which is just milk already cooked down with sugar) means you can skip the first five hours or so, and all the traditional stirring.

Don’t be tempted to make it by boiling sealed tins in a pan or pressure cooker. I saw the disastrous results of that technique going wrong in the first restaurant I worked in – fortunately, no one was hurt, but the prep kitchen was showered in boiling caramel.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 x 400g tins sweetened condensed milk
generous pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Sterilise 2 heatproof jars (including their lids) by cleaning them in hot soapy water, then place them in a low oven for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix together the condensed milk and salt in a glass or ceramic dish. Tightly cover the dish with foil. Set this dish inside a larger baking dish or tin, and fill it with hot water, until the water reaches just over halfway up the sides of the smaller dish. Place in the oven for 1 hour, keeping an eye on the water level and topping it up with more water from the kettle as necessary.
  3. After 1 hour, begin checking the colour of the milk – you are looking for a light golden brown colour to develop. Watch the water levels carefully at this point; if the water levels drop, then the milk will begin to bake and may take on a curdled, clotted appearance. The same will happen if the foil comes loose. (If the milk does seem to have split, don’t panic. After taking the pan out of the oven, allow to cool just slightly, then pour the split caramel into a large bowl, leaving any over-browned, stuck-on milk in the original dish. Wearing oven gloves and long sleeves, carefully beat the split mixture with a heatproof whisk, until fairly smooth. Next, set a sieve over another large bowl, and strain out any remaining lumps. The resulting sauce may have a very, very slightly granular appearance, but it is so delicious, no one will notice.)
  4. Once the caramel is an even golden colour, carefully remove from the oven and leave to cool a little.
  5. To store the caramel, while still hot, pour it into the clean, sterilised jars. Seal, cool, and keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.
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