Recently, a jar of Argentine dulce de leche caught my eye at Russo’s. I didn’t even hesitate as I placed it lovingly in my basket. After all, this is the time of year when I eat whatever the hell I want, from wherever I want, environment be damned. It’s been a long winter and the summer is still achingly out of reach. So, I figured, I could either fly the whole family down to Argentina for dessert or fly the dulce de leche up to me. (It was a bitch of a flight, but I got the goods.)
This dulce de leche by La Salamandra, essentially caramelized whole milk, is by far the best I’ve ever had, with deep caramel tones and a full, rich mouthfeel. Now the canned stuff will forever suck by comparison. I spread it on crêpes for a mid-afternoon snack, then melted and poured it over ice cream for a mid-evening snack. A banoffee pie even crossed my mind for a midnight snack, except by then I had already eaten the rest of it right out of the jar. God, this stuff is amazing.
So, here’s a question. Has anyone ever boiled cans of condensed milk for hours to make dulce de leche? And did they explode? Back in my twenties, I did this quite a few times without considering the dangers of cans under pressure. Then I heard all of these second-hand horror stories about explosions and caramel-coated kitchens and I haven’t done it since. Just curious what your experience has been. David Lebovitz says you can make it in the oven without the can, which seems less controversial/exciting. But I may never go back to cans again now that it seems like you can make better stuff with regular milk (do I hear local?), sugar, and baking soda in a pot. Or at least the Argentines can. As always, I will report back. In the meantime, here’s a snack.
Crêpes with Dulce de Leche
My crappy 7-inch non-stick T-Fal from college makes awesome crêpes. Don’t tell anyone.
1/3 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter
Dulce de leche
Whisk together eggs, flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Strain batter into another bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The batter will seem like it's way too thin, but it's not.
Heat a 7-inch non-stick pan over medium heat until hot. Grease pan with a little butter, then pour in ¼ cup of batter, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Cook 1-2 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the underside is cooked and developing toasty spots. Flip crêpe and cook 1 minute more. The first one always comes out like crap. Persevere.
Transfer crêpe to plate and spread dulce de leche on half of it. This is easier to do if the dulce de leche is room temperature. If it’s coming from the fridge, you can nuke it slightly to loosen it up, but be careful or you’ll end up with a puddle that refuses to be wrangled. Fold crêpe in half, then in half again, and devour. Repeat. Makes about 6. (Also good with Nutella or whatever other fillings you might concoct.)
Source: Adapted from Saveur, from an article by Melissa Hamilton (I think).