The first time I had Dulce de Leche I began spooning it directly from the jar and into my mouth and before I knew it, I had made it almost all the way through the jar.
It was that good!
I scraped it off the spoon with my teeth, savoring every sticky, sugary mouthful. The jar of Dulce de Leche I was given had a picture of a goat on the label and was called Cajeta. I had developed a fondness for goat milk since I lived very near a goat dairy in upstate New York, and while perhaps not to everyone’s taste, the farmhouse tang of it I found very appealing.
Once in a while they’d invite me over for some homemade goat milk ice cream which was so delicious that any ice cream I ate with cow’s milk after that seemed bland and one-dimensional. Since I also love anything caramelized, coupled with the barnyardy taste of goat milk, I’d found heaven in this sweet-silky paste…conveniently packed in a nice glass jar from our friends south-of-the-border.
Eventually the rest of the world discovered Dulce de Leche and now there’s scores of Dulce de Leche (or is that Dulces des Leches?) on the market…although nowadays most of what’s available is made from the more public-friendly cow’s milk.
If you do come across some made from goat milk, I urge you to try it: it’s incredible!
I had always associated this delicious spread with Argentina and Mexico, but when I moved to France, I was surprised to see fromageries all across Paris with bright-orange signs announcing the presence of “Confiture de Lait, Ici!”. And sure enough, between the earthenware bowls of gloppy and rich crème frâiche and mounds of sunshine-yellow beurre en baratte inside, there’s always a heaping bowl of shiny and deeply caramelized milk jam that they’re happy to scoop up for you to take home to spread on your morning baguette, which the French call le tartine.
It’s the traditional breakfast of leftover baguette from dinner the night before, toasted, then smeared with lots of butter, perhaps some nice jam, or confiture de lait (which as you can imagine, is especially popular with les enfants.) The crusty, buttery rusk of bread is dipped in your morning bowl of café au lait, a rather delightful way to start the day.
For sweetened condensed milk, the brand I like best is Longevity, which I’ve found in Asian markets in the United States. But any brand will work. Do not use evaporated milk, though, which is the same thing but without sugar.
Dulce de Leche or Confiture de Lait
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)
Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.
Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.