Thursday, February 4, 2010
My Favorite Dulce de Leche
Recently the most popular filling requested by my customers has been Dulce de Leche. When combined with buttercream it makes a perfect match for Walnut Almond cake, Pure White Vanilla cake, Chocolate Fudge cake and how about Banana cake?
The trick when baking is to use Dulce de Leche Pastelero (this literally means Dulce de Leche for Pastry), which has been condensed so that it will not run or be displaced by the cake or pastry layers. It is also commonly used in Argentina in ice cream, where again it maintains its thick consistency.
My preferred recipe:
I make my own Dulce de Leche, although you can now purchase small jars imported from Argentina, almost all the brands are regular Dulce de Leche and not suitable for use in pastry. Here's the recipe I have found to be most reliable:
* 2 liters of whole milk
* 1 kg of sugar
* 1 Vanilla bean (or 1 Tbsp of Pure Vanilla Extract)
* 1/2 tsp of baking soda
* 2 Tbsp of corn starch dissolved in 2oz milk
* 1 Tbsp of glucose
1. Pour the milk into a large pan, together with the sugar, the vanilla bean sliced in two, and the baking soda. Raise the heat until it reaches boiling, and then lower the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
2. Keep stirring occasionally, to ensure that the mixture does not burn at the bottom of the pan. Some people like to put 3 glass marbles in the pan, which can help prevent the mixture from burning. Continue to let the mixture simmer until it starts to turn a light caramel color and begins to thicken.
Take out the vanilla bean, if you are using this.
3. Add the corn starch dissolved in milk and the glucose. Stir and let it boil until the mixture reaches 106 celsius, then remove from the heat.
4. Pour the mixture into sterilized glass jars and seal. The jars should be kept in the refrigerator, and will last there for up to a month.
The Origin of Dulce de Leche:
I was brought up to believe in the popular Argentine story about the origin of Dulce de Leche. Supposedly in 1829, Juan Manuel de Rosas, Argentina's President, and his political adversary Juan Lavalle were due to meet to sign a peace agreement in Rosas' estancia (ranch) at Cañuelas in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Lavalle was the first to arrive, somewhat tired he fell asleep in Rosas' bed! A maid in the household was warming milk with sugar (a concoction know at that time as lechada) to accompany the afternoon mate (mate is a very popular herbal tea drunk widely in Argentina and Uruguay), but she stumbled across the sleeping Lavalle in her employer's room, which she believed to be a great insult and went straight away to advise the guards.
Rosas arrived soon after, but he wasn't angry at Lavalle and ordered the maid to bring in mate with the milk. She realized that she had left the milk simmering on the stove for ages. When she got back to the kitchen, she found the pan full of a thick and caramel colored substance. Rosas tried this "dulce", which he thought very pleasant, and he shared it with Lavalle while they discussed the terms of their agreement. So we are told, this is how dulce de leche was accidentally invented.