Dulce de Leche

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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typical dulce de leche

One of my first desserts in Buenos Aires was a chocolate cookie filled with ¨dulce de leche¨. I am one of the "sweetest" people I know (HA!), that is in the sense that I really love desserts. I get this wonderful trait from my father, who always has to finish his meal off on a sweet note. Anyway a particular cookie was recommended to me by Jessica who claimed it was “amazing”. After taking one small bite I was almost assured that I had instantaneously acquired a new cavity. Even to me, who as a child used to eat sugar cubes whole as candy, could not handle the sugar overload!

It is said that Dulce de Leche originated in Argentina in 1829 in the providence of Cañuelas in Buenos Aires. It is popular in various Latin American countries--it is known as cajeta in Mexico, and is very similar to confiture de lait in France.  Dulce de leche is found in almost every Argentine dessert, from icecream, to crepes, to chocolate cake, to cookies, I even found a dulce de leche liquor! At home it is simply spread over bread, or eaten with a variety of fruits. This almost obsession started to slowly grow on me, my favorite being the ducle de leche flavored icecream.

Churros filled with dulce de leche
So what exactly is dulce de leche? Many compare the taste to that of a creamy caramel. It is a soft butterscotch-colored cream, extremely sweet, and excellent with coffee.

After talking in depth to a few locals about this craze, I discovered that it was made like caramel. It is a simple concoction of sugar and milk (caramel is simply sugar and water). I have included two separate recipes for Dulce de Leche that I will experiment when I get back to the U.S. The first is simply using sweetened condensed milk and heating it up, although this method may be somewhat risky due to the pressure in the can. The second is more old fashioned (what I tend to prefer), using whole milk, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Gigi's final thought on dulce de leche: Recently a local Argentine informed me that there are currently 11 different official flavors of dulce de leche. Can you guess why?.....!? When you think of Argentina you think of ...Latin America...and when you think of Latin America you think of...Soccer! Yes! There are 11 flavors of dulce de leche, just as there are 11 players on a soccer team. Crazy, isnt it! HA! :)

Recipe 1:


·                         14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk


Fill the bottom of a double boiler halfway with water

Dessert with dulce de leche
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium for an active simmer. Pour a 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk in the top of the double boiler and set it over the simmering water. Don't cover. Every 45 minutes, check the water level and give the milk a stir. Replentish the simmering water with hot water as needed. When the milk is as thick as pudding and is a rich, dark caramel color, 2 1/2 to 2 hours, remove from heat, cool thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate or use immediately.

This recipe for Dulce de Leche serves/makes 14 oz.

Recipe 2:


·                         1 quart milk, whole (see note)

·                         1 1/3 cup sugar

·                         1 vanilla bean

·                         1/2 teaspoon baking soda



Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the mixture briskly, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until thick, caramel colored, and reduced by half, 30 to 40 minutes.

(You will need to adjust the heat, now up, now down, to keep the mixture at a brisk simmer, but without it boiling over. The traditional test for doneness is to pour a spoonful of caramel cream on a plate. When it gathers in a thick puddle and no longer runs to the edges, the mixture is ready.) Remove the vanilla bean tongs and discard.

Transfer the caramel cream to a serving bowl and cool to room temperature. You can eat it now or cover and refrigerate if you prefer to serve it chilled.

Note: You must use whole milk for dulce de leche. Skim milk will burn during the reduction process.

This recipe for Argentine Caramel Cream (Dulce de Leche) serves/makes 4.

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