Dulce de leche – Literally, a milk-based caramel sauce or candy
Dulce de leche is a popular South American caramel sauce composed of only two ingredients: milk and sugar. In fact, the name literally translates to “milk jam” (side note: it is pronounced as “dul-say,” as opposed to “dul-che” — you’ll gain some cool points for this). According to Alton Brown, dulce de leche most likely evolved as a way to preserve milk in the pre-refrigerator era. Though its flavor is complex and layered, dulce de leche is deceptively simple to make.
So how does combining milk, sugar, and heat turn into something as lucious and spoonable as dulce de leche? The answer lies in science — more specifically, chemistry. As all you lactose-intolerant folk out there know, milk has plenty of lactose. Lactose is a sugar, but is not as sweet as sucrose or glucose (which are found in typical table sugar, fruits, and sugared fruits). As dulce de leche is essentially caramelized milk, it is a more complex, less saccharine caramel than its more traditional cousin – caramel.
Recipe Courtesy of Alton Brown and
Dulce de Leche
- Level: Intermediate
- Total: 3 hr 5 min
- Prep: 5 min
- Cook: 3 hr
- Yield: about 1 cup
- 1 quart whole milk
- 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture.
- Continue to cook for 1 hour.
- Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
- Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.
Print the recipe in Adobe Acrobat. Dulce de leche – Alton Brown
Check out Alton Brown’s Milk Made Good Eats Film
If you would like the taste of Dulce de Leche but don’t have the patience to make it, you may want to try one of the following –