Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dulce De Leche


Dulce de leche is something I've wanted to make for a long time and when Wey recently complained that all he could find in the supermarket was evaporated milk and not condensed milk, it turned out that he wanted to make dulce de leche too, which he saw Chef At Home made. He said it was the way Chef looked when he ate the sauce that made him curious about the stuff. Did I ever tell you Wey's quite good at imitating accents and expressions. He did a great imitation of Micheal Smith rhapsodizing about the sauce in a Canadian accent and giving that characteristic sneaky sidelong glance that always makes me amused and irritated at the same time. For that performance, I made the sauce for him.

For some reason, condensed milk in Malaysia is now known as 'sweetened creamer'. No wonder Wey couldn't find condensed milk in the supermarkets.

Dulce de leche (meaning "sweet milk") is a sweet sauce made by boiling an unopened can of condensed milk for at least 3 hours. The sauce is to Spain, Portugal and South American countries like gula melaka is to Malaysians. Wikipedia tells me that the condensed milk is turned into a caramel-like sauce through a chemical reaction called Malliard Reaction, and not through caramelisation. Malliard Reaction, according to what I've read, is the chemical reaction by which many natural and articifial flavor compounds are made. Since I'm not a food chemist, and I suspect neither are most of you, it's enough to just know that the basic difference between caramelisation and the Malliard Reaction is that the former is a browning process that involves sugars only while the Malliard Reaction involves sugar and amino acids (eg milk).

I boiled the can of condensed milk, lying down in the pot, for 3 1/2 hours, according to the recipe in The Australian Gourmet Traveller, October 2007 issue. I then let it cool for an hour before opening it (the can can explode if opened when hot). I was afraid the milk would stay creamy white but there it was, a nice, smooth, caramel-brown sauce. However, the sauce was way thinner than that in the magazine. I boiled it long enough but maybe not hard enough, as in the heat was too low? In some photos of the sauce that I've seen, the sauce is a rich brown and very thick, like a paste. Could it be that my dulce de leche hadn't had a successful Malliard Reaction? The recipe said to let the water simmer, so I didn't let it boil and that could be why my sauce wasn't as thick or brown. I've seen dulce de leche in some websites that looked liked they were overcooked, resulting in a thick, grainy paste that must be quite coarse on the tongue. I imagine the perfect dulce de leche should be thick (but not pasty), smooth and rich in flavor.


We both dipped a finger in. Wey said "Condensed milk, except the sweetness stays longer". I too tasted the condensed milk first, then the faint caramel flavor and then the sweetness. Frankly, I was a little bit disappointed. We popped the can into the fridge overnight and the next morning, the sauce had thickened in viscosity. Dipped a finger in. This time it tasted of condensed milk, slight caramel and concentrated sweetness--just like the first time. Okay maybe there was a hint of butterscotch too. It was good, but I expected to be knocked off my feet.

Since I now have a whole 200g can of dulce de leche, I needed something to eat it with. I've seen recipes of dulce de leche cheesecake, ice cream, muffins, pancakes--basically any kind of dessert--but the only recipe I liked was dulche de leche ice cream, which I wasn't into making, and churros, which I was. And so this was what we ate with the dulce de leche, just as in the Gourmet article:

dulce de leche1

Dulce De Leche

1 can of condensed milk

--Put the unopened can of condensed milk into a small pot and fill with water until the water completely covers the can. You can turn the can so it lies down and less water is needed.

--Let the water boil, then lower to medium heat and let it boil moderately for 3 1/2 hours.

--Pour away the water and let the can cool before opening.

p.s. I did more research on dulce de leche and my conclusion is that the correct consistency depends on what you want the sauce for. As a spread, it can be thicker but as a pouring sauce it can be thinner. The longer it is boiled, the thicker the sauce gets. The color may depend on the type of condensed milk used.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about this, but I've got a feeling the different results would be because it's sweetened creamer you used rather than actual condensed milk. The former actually contains palm oil/ other vege oils rather than the milk solids in condense milk. Much cheaper to produce than real condense milk.

Katie said...

That looks really delicious - I've seen dulce de leche cropping up in the food blog world and it's really just making me want to try it myself!

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri
Just want to share a new discovery today but maybe you might have noticed already. Went to CKS Bundusan this morning and saw a whole range of Hugo Leong's Yummy House products. Can't help thinking of the recipes you have posted and the ingredients given. Hence, got myself a bottle of the sesame paste and also the shredded pickled mustard veg for the hot and sour soup. They also have those box noodles you brought back from HK. Noticed packets of dried veg with lohan guo for boiling soup but rather pricy. Probably your method is more economical, dry our own Choy Gon.
Anyway, just so happy we can get better ingredients to cook with. Really appreciate your effort and generosity in sharing . Happy blogging!


gerrie said...

Terri, sweetened creamer does NOT equal sweetened condensed milk. The latter has been taken off the market (for a few years already) due to rising costs of full cream milk, and apparently sweetened condensed milk was/is a government controlled food item, and producers like Nestle did not find it feasible to continue its production, and like "Anonymous, 6.52pm" said, it's basically palm oil with minimum milk solids. I actually spoke with the Nestle spokesperson who said that condensed milk will be re-introduced to the market again later this year with of course a higher price tag. I think I mentioned the non-availability of condensed milk in one of your posts on Honeycomb Cake.
The sad thing is everyone just assume that creamer = milk, and I was told folks in the interior has been giving this "milk" to their toddlers.
Ridiculous though it may sound, but I lug condensed milk back from Singapore!

ganache-ganache said...

3 1/2 hrs of boiling/simmering is a very long time. Over gas stove ? That means one will have to check on it as & when in case the water in the pot dry up ??

Zurin said...

Yes Ive seen this boiling of condensed milk in a can somewhere on tv years ago to produce the caramelized looking concoction n always wondered what to eat that with...but of course..churros! :P

Ah yes... Chef at Home lol....he's boring.. because he's TOO NICE...if he cld throw in a little sarcasm or some humour or some quirky personality (even tt sidelong glance looks so goody goody)the whole show wld be much more bearable don't you think? heheh

Fooman said...

Yeah, I have this stinking suspicion that we no longer have condensed milk and the sweetened creamer has no dairy products in it

Precious Pea said...

I always learn something new from you. I just ran to the fridge to check on my can of condensed milk and yes, it's stated 'condensed milk' on the label. Will gonna try to see if it achieve a better result (after reading your first anonymous comment).

J2Kfm said...

how cool. the Reaction was in the syllabus waaaaayyy back then, a browning reaction between carbo + protein.

never thought it can result in such a delightful caramelized appearance. yum ... though i had no idea condensed milk is not the same as sweetened creamer.

Big Boys Oven said...

I ahd tried this, it is awesome! :)

NEE said...

this look sooo sinful. look at the pic also can get fat. Bravo, guys. hehehe...def will keep this recipe. thanks.

terri@adailyobsession said...

anon: arghhhh i didn't know tt! thank goodness i don't consume much 'condensed' milk

katie: u must make it, u'll sleep better:D

nick: really? i must check it out b4 u buy up the shop. CKS in bundusan is pretty well-stocked n prices r very reasonable. i wish hugo's pork oil is bottled too, n the soy sauce.

gerrie: thanks to u n anon, i've learnt smthing n i'm shocked tt we don't have condensed milk here. everything seems to be getting more n more cheapskate here, lacking in quality. it just puts me off knowing tt i ate palm oil n those creamer stuff. i never eat coffee mate after i found out it's hydrogenated veg oil. trans fat n all tt.

yes, those poor kampung babies.

n i must get my hub to lug some condensed milk back too--he's there this week.

ganache: yip, a long time it takes. but i only had to top up the water once. i think it was simmering too gently.

zurin: it's funny how i both love n hate to watch him. his sidelong glances drives me up the wall, it's like he's trying to be sexy or he has some sneaky ideas but not telling u. i think the show is boring bc it's too predictable plus unlike other shows where ppl have a jolly party, he ends up eating quietly with a wife who doesn't speak n a little boy who is just beginning to talk. kinda boring.

fooman: looks like the case. we can't even afford condensed milk?

pp: i think u will hav better results. hmmph!

j2: me too, no idea tt i was not eating condensed milk until now

bbo: yes it is delicious as long as you don't know it is condensed milk n tt it takes 3 1/2 hours to boil :)

nee: am sure u'll come up with some dulce de leche cake.

tracieMoo said...

This looks really good..
And I do love the things Michael Smith cooks, but sometimes, he just looked like a kindergarten teacher to me. haha. I could imagine how irritating it could be having someone to imitate him.. But it's all good.. You've got Dulce De Leche! Going to make some for myself.. yum yum..

TeaLady said...

Terri, we were just talking about this on Twitter. Great minds, friend, great minds....

plato's disciples said...

well you could have dulche de leche coffee... a little bit to sweet for my taste..but a lot of my friends have affinity for it

Anonymous said...

Even with sweetened condensed milk, there are different qualities. I live in Australia and used to buy the Nestle brand. I recently discovered the Longevity Brand condensed milk
This is really good stuff, rich and creamy. Not sure if they sell that in Malaysia. The ones which we get in Australia are imported from Holland

terri@adailyobsession said...

tracie: yea, he doesn't look like a chef. i don't like cook like a chef too. it's so impersonal n i don't know why the camera man keeps following the chef, so in the way.

tealady: tt's right lady. n great taste buds too huh:D

plato: great idea, thnx!

anon: ah another thing for my kids to bring back. thnx:D

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, this sounds soooo delicious!

Just a quick correction though - dulce de lece doesn't exit in Portugal. I can't speak for Spain, but I believe this is a purely South American thing. But in Portugal it doesn't exist.

terri@adailyobsession said...

anon: thnx for the info!

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