Small adventures that take up hours of work to produce are my thing. I love these culinary projects, like croissants, crepe cakes or homemade ice creams. This last one is not even exactly time consuming, but waiting 12 hours for the ice cream maker to get cold enough can make the hungriest bellies very upset.
And since I also love homemade stuff, when I found out I could make dulce de leche at home and that it took some time to finish, oh friends. I was up for the challenge.
The challenge is to stir and stir and stir and never take your eye out of the mixture, for about one and a half hours. There are rumours of less time if you do it on high heat, but I didn’t try that. The good thing about making dulce de leche at home? You can make it however you like. I added some vanilla extract, but I’ve began to wonder about the magic of orange dulce de leche, mandarin dulce de leche and such. The sky is the limit.
But houw about the usual sweet condensed milk cooked on a pressure cooker? That’s not the real stuff, you guys. It may look the same but the real dulce de leche is not made like that. Not to mention you could pontentially hurt yourself if the can can’t handle the pressure and explodes.
But if you really want to know how to make canned dulce de leche, all you need to do is remove the sticky paper around the can and cover it with water on a pressure cooker. Then take it to the stovetop and cook for at least 20 minutes after reaching the pressure needed. The consistency depends on what you’re looking for: 20 minutes is a creamy and runny dulce, 35 to 40 is a firmer dulce, and beyond that, up to 50 minutes, it gets really hard, like a tender candy. After ready, remove from the heat, and wait for the cooker and the can to come to room temperature before you open it. I also like to pass it through a sieve afterwards.
But if you are up for the challenge of homemade dulce de leche oldschool, then follow my lead!
Homemade dulce de leche
Yields: about 1 1/2 cups
4 cups (approx. 1 l) whole milk
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (80g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seed of one vanilla pod)
1 – In a big pot, take all ingredients, except the vanilla, to a boil on medium to high heat. Stir until everything is combined and leave it to boil.
2 – You should make it on a big pot, with tall sides, because the mil will eventually boil over. Then, adjust the heat so that it keeps boiling but not going over the pot, and keep stirring. Once in a while, remove the foam that climbs to the top and discard it. As much foam as you can take out of the mixture, the shinier and glossier your dulce de leche will be.
3 – After about 15-20 minutes, the mixture gets a light beige color. Then after 40 minutes, it should me getting to a more brownish, caramel color, and it’s when you should be stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. From that point on, it depends on how you want your dulce de leche. I like it a bit firmer so I let it cook for another 10 minutes.
4 – However you choose your consistency, at the end of the process, remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. If it’s not uniform or it has lumps of any sort, pass it through a sieve. Eat as soon as it gets to room temperature or store in the fridge for up to 20 to 30 days.
These pictures will help you with the colors of the dulce de leche. The first is in the beginning, the second is on the 15 minute mark and the last is around the 30 minute mark. The final photos, of course, are after I reached about 50 minutes of cooking.
I was so proud of myself when I made this dulce de leche, because its color was the same as the famous Argentinian La Salamandra. So who needs to buy expensive dulce de leche when the homemade version has the same color, texture, and you can enjoy it however you like?