Friday, October 14, 2011
Dulche de Leche So Good I'm Openly Weeping Right Now
I had the idea to make dulce de leche to go with the "ice cream in a bag" I'll be making this weekend right after I go bungee jumping. Do I sound obnoxious? Cause my life really is that interesting. (Said as I sit here in my granny underwear eating dulce de leche out of the jar with my paws.)
In case you don't know the wonders of dulce de leche, it's a Latin American caramel that's made by reducing milk with sugar and vanilla. In French, it's known as confiture de lait which makes it sound even better than it already is. I've had dulce de leche on ice cream, on a crepe in France, on a "pancake" in Thailand, and drizzled on top of cheesecake, brownies, lattes, my face, etc.
You can make dulce de leche by baking in an oven or stirring on a stove top. I chose the stirring method so I could see the color transform along the way. You'll need three to four hours to make dulce de leche, but since I'm pretty sure you can't buy it in Seoul, you don't really have a choice.
To make about a cup of dulce de leche, I used Alton Brown's recipe:
1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*You may be wondering where the hell I got a vanilla bean in Korea. The baking section of Bangsan Market for 1500 won. They also sell them at the Foreign Food Store in Itaewon. If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can substitute in about 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Personally, I've never heard of using too much vanilla extract.
First, throw in all the sugar into a pot.
Then, you need to split and scrape the vanilla bean. Do this by running the knife down the middle of the bean.
Split it open. The vanilla beans in Korea are much more dry and brittle than those found elsewhere, I'm guessing, because of the amount of time they just sit on the shelf waiting for the odd person to buy them (me). So, splitting the bean can be a bit more tricky than what you see chefs do in two seconds on Food Network.
Try and extract as much of the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean. They'll be lying in there like confectionary caviar.
Put the scrapings and the entire bean into the pot of sugar. Whisk it all around to mix the vanilla into the sugar.
Pour in the milk and whisk some more. Heat over medium heat to a simmer while whisking to dissolve the sugar.
When the sugar is dissolved, add the baking soda.
When the mixture reaches a simmer, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Watch it carefully the first hour because the milk can Pompeii on you and create quite a mess.
As the milk cooks down, it'll start turning a nice golden color.
The milk will also leave some scummy residue on the sides of the pot. Don't try to mix that back in.
After an hour, remove the vanilla bean and continue simmering.
When it's almost done, it'll get thick and syrupy.
To test if it's done, get a little bit on a spoon, and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes, it's at the consistency you like, take the dulce de leche off the heat and immediately strain it through a fine-mesh strainer to rid it of milk lumps and fragments of vanilla bean.
After straining, let it sit out until it reaches room temperature. It'll thicken considerably during this period.
When it's cool, pour it into a container and refrigerate. It'll keep for about a month if you don't eat it all before then.