A couple of years ago a very close friend of mine, Unnati, suggested I join an online baking club. I was skeptical, very very skeptical. But thought there’s no harm, I can always leave if I don’t like the way it works out.
Unnati, an architect by profession is a passionate cook and a budding wine maker. Check out her blog here. Along with some old friends and a couple of Indian woman from around the world we formed the ‘Flour Power Club.’
The objective was very simple. Each month one of the members has to post a baking challenge for the others to complete. The person posting the challenge should have never made the challenged recipe ever before.(even if the others had done so)
The very first challenge set was ‘Banoffee Pie’……a classic, surely, but one that did not sit well with me at all.
I HATE bananas….period. There’s no more to say.
I was really disappointed, upset even. Regretfully, I wrote to the member who posting the challenge explaining why I was unable to participate in the challenge. She very kindly wrote back urging me to try at least the most important component of the pie, the DULCE DE LECHE…….
…….and I did! Not just the version she had posted, which involved boiling a tin of condensed milk for 3 hours, but the one which involved boiling milk, sugar and vanilla over a stove for the same amount of time till it thickened and caramelised.
I did make a pie….not Banoffee….but ‘Peachoffee’, substituting the bananas with peaches.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know by now that food has always been part of my life. I have assimilated all my food knowledge as if by osmosis from home and topped it off and sealed it in when I studied food as part of my degree in Hotel Administration and Food Technology.
However, once I got married and moved to Chennai, I lost all interest in cooking, hating to cook the daily meals and ordering in food whenever we had guests.
But joining the Flour Power Club and my first brush with Dulce de Leche, changed all that.
Something piqued my curiosity to find out which method of preparing Dulce de Leche would give a better result.
Needless to say that the one that required that milk and sugar be boiled down to a caramel, beat the condensed milk dulce hollow. The colour was richer and the flavour so much deeper and more intense.
I am a firm believer that anything that takes time, that is gently simmered and needs your attention gives results far superior to the easy, quick fix methods.
As a true lover of food, not just good food, but food that is soooo good your taste buds just pop…..requires time, love and attention.
This was a lesson I learnt that day…..the day of the double dulce de leche.
But this trial also got me back on the foodie bandwagon…..and since then I am back with gusto in the kitchen churning out many delicacies…..but always full of flavour and goodness.
So for these reasons Dulce de Leche always strikes a chord with me……and whenever I make it, I always eat a dollop-full from a teaspoon…..relishing the intensely caramel-ly hit!
All with 3 simple ingredients…
So here is the recipe for Dulce de Leche I use:
1 lt Milk
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean (split)
1/2 tsp baking soda
Bring the milk, sugar and baking soda to boil without stirring.
Remove the foamy layer that forms on top.
Add the vanilla bean at this point and simmer the mixture for an hour.
You will find that the colour will begin to deepen and the mixture thicken to a thick silky caramel.
I do not stand over the mixture but occasionally stir it. Only at the end when the caramel is thickening, ensure that you stir it to prevent it from burning.
Enjoy your dulce de leche in brownies, ice cream, ribbon it through cake batters, use it on toast or pancakes, or even in a mousse.
Here is the Dulche de Leche in various stages of caramelization: