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 actually 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 I found very appealing with the caramelized milk.
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 are 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 (for its cousin cajeta), but when I moved to France, I was surprised to see cheese shop 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 a popular afternoon snack, perhaps using some leftover baguette from breakfast, toasting it, and smeared on the confiture de lait (which as you can imagine, is especially popular with les enfants). The crusty, buttery rusk of bread is also good dipped in your morning bowl of café au lait, and makes a sweet start to the day.
Dulce de Leche or Confiture de Lait
- One 14 ounce can (400g) sweetened condensed milk
- pinch kosher or sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in the 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.
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Recipes shown in post appear in My Paris Kitchen.