A Delicious, Homemade Variation on Dulche de Leche

A fireplace insert equals warmth and efficiency. Find out more at www.lehmans.com.

A fireplace insert equals warmth and efficiency. Find out more at www.lehmans.com.

It’s cold today. There is a certain kind of cold that seeps into cracks and crevices. It makes old joints ache and my cozy spot in front of the fire is the only sensible place to be. But I can’t sit all day. So what to do?

A stint in the kitchen seems like a plan. I remember a treat from my childhood called Dulce De Leche. It is sweetened condensed milk taken to the extreme and turned into a caramel syrup that is amazingly decadent. I went on an internet hunt for the recipe but was disappointed to find that all of my usual go-to recipe blogs had only recipes that started with a can of the commercial stuff. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to start with nothing but milk and sugar.

Italian Glass Measuring JugI finally struck pay dirt on a cooking blog but the site was French which made it necessary to convert all the measurements from liters and grams to quarts and pounds. By the time I was finished that chair by the fire was looking better and better.

Here’s the recipe I finally arrived at:

4 cups of whole milk. (I would not try this with low-fat milk. If you are going to indulge, do it with your whole heart.)
1 pound and 10.5 ounces of sugar. (I tried to be precise and I used a scale.)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Multi-purpose stock pots are in stock now at Lehmans.com and Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

Multi-purpose stock pots are in stock now at Lehmans.com and Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

I’m not sure why the sugar, sea salt, baking soda and vanilla would be necessary but I don’t like to fiddle with an unfamiliar recipe. Pour all this into a pot that is tall enough to handle a good deal of foaming up. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the contents to a boil then immediately lower the heat to low or the pot will boil over. It will. I know this now.

Now remember. Patience is a virtue. For the next 2-3 hours you need to stir the pot every 10 minutes while keeping the milk at a very slow simmer. Eventually the milk will thicken and turn a lovely caramel color.

You can stop at the syrup stage and pour the leche over scones or cake or you can keep going until it gets thick enough to spread between cookies or on warm bread. The syrup will thicken as it cools so plan accordingly.

It will keep in the refrigerator for a long time but who are we kidding here? How long will it actually sit there, especially if you keep snagging a spoonful every time you go to the kitchen? Not long. Enough to worry about keeping times!

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.