I have a confession: I adore dulce de leche, Argentina’s very special version of milk caramel.
And this is really saying something, because I’m not the kind of person who obsesses over chocolate or gets cravings for sugary treats. Another confession: I’ve been known to spend three months in Italy and not lick a single gelato. I’ll take savoury snacks over sweet ones any day. In fact I’ve been pining for spicy foods and curries for a couple of months now. But I have to admit I have a soft spot for dulce de leche.
Each time we take a trip to the supermarket in Buenos Aires, I find myself scanning the aisles of jams, preserves, sauces, and sweets, for a different dulce de leche product to try.
The most traditional form of dulce de leche comes in a thick, rich milk caramel spread that is similar to the French confiture de lait, and falls somewhere between Nutella and a lemon spread in terms of its consistency.
You can spread it on toast, bread, croissants, pastries, or pancakes, or serve it with ice-cream or sandwiched between biscuits (see below). Like jams and preserves, prices vary dramatically, with the cheaper versions sold in plastic containers and the better quality dulce de leche sold in glass jars.
Alfajores or alfajorcitos are a favourite snack of Argentines. They’re different to the cylindrical shaped sweets made from almonds, hazelnuts, honey, spices and flour, inherited from the Arabs, which you’ll find in southern Spain. In Argentina, they’re biscuit-shaped, consisting of two round biscuits with jam or dulce de leche in between. You’ll guess what’s in my favourites, which are also chocolate-coated.
Look in a local supermarket or sweet shop in Buenos Aires and you’ll locate all manner of dulce de leche treats, from dulce de leche-centred chocolates, from which the rich caramel sauce bursts into your mouth on biting (see above) to dulce de leche confectionary in toffee and fudge forms that are like the Jersey caramels found in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Vaquita or ‘little cow’ (below) is another delightful, firm, dulce de leche candy or confectionary.
A Recipe for Dulce de Leche
I’ve been looking for a recipe for the traditional Argentine dulce de leche spread. I’ve found everything from vague instructions to slowly simmer milk and sugar until it magically turns into dulce de leche to suggestions to boil an unopened tin of sweetened condensed milk for a couple of hours, and recipes requiring a long list of ingredients including vanilla beans and baking soda, which I know is just wrong.
Has anyone got a good recipe for dulce de leche that they love? I’d be hugely appreciative if you shared it in the Comments below. We’ll try it out and let you know how it goes, and if it’s the one I’m looking for we’ll add it to this post and link to you. Muchas gracias!