I certainly go on a bit about being time poor really don’t I? It’s ok, I know I do.
It definitely informs most of my decisions about what I cook and eat during the week and means I am far more creative on the weekend. When I’ve had a really tough day at work during the week (and that seems to be often at the moment) I just ache to come home and make something to feel better.
When trying to escape the days stresses during the week I need a dish that requires little effort yet still gives me that sense of achievement at the end of the process. This is one of those little recipes – one that isn’t really that quick, but is certainly easy and stress free.
Dulce de leche is a South American confection which translates to Candy [made] of Milk. In it’s most basic form, it is made by boiling milk and sugar together till the water in the milk has evaporated and the mixture has thickened and caramelised. This method requires constant vigilance and takes a long time, so this is why more often home cooks take a can of unopened condensed milk and make Dulce de leche by boiling it in water for 3 hours. Let me tell you, this method scares the S*#& out of me. If the water boils dry while you aren’t paying attention, the can will explode. I’m sorry, but I don’t need that kind of stress going on in my kitchen for three hours.
This is why the baked double boiler method is absolutely the one for me. All it takes is a dish filled with the condensed milk which is sitting in a dish with water and baked for 1 1/2 hours till caramelised. Little stress, little effort and a spectacular result which has a multitude of uses.
NB: In terms of what type of condensed milk to buy and the various stages it goes through while cooking, you absolutely must visit Simon’s blog The Heart of Food and read his Dulce de Lecture and subsequest A Question of Time posts. He’s done all the hard work for you by testing a few different brands of condensed milk in one post and tested various cooking times in the other.
Easy Dulce de leche
Makes about 1 cup
1 400ml can of condensed milk
A pinch sea salt flakes
1 vanilla bean
Pre heat your oven to 210°C.
Pour the condensed milk into an oven proof glass or ceramic dish.
Split the vanilla bean using the tip of a sharp knife, then scrape along the cut surface to collect the seeds. Add the seeds to the condensed milk with the sea salt flakes and stir then cover the dish with aluminium foil.
Place the dish into a larger metal baking pan and add hot water to the baking pan until it comes halfway up the base of the smaller dish. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the milk has reached a rich amber colour.
Once the dulce de leche is ready, remove it from the oven and when cooled a little whisk it in the baking dish until smooth. Transfer to a sterilised jar and keep refrigerated until use.