The first in our series of posts.
h2. Dulce de Leche
Image courtesy of Kai Hendry via Flickr
h3. What is dulce de leche?
Milk caramel, packaged in a glass jar.
h3. How is dulce de leche made?
Argentines will tell you the best stuff is when mamma makes it, but making dulce de leche from scratch is a bit like waiting for a solar eclipse. You wait and wait (stirring condensed milk on a low heat for two to three hours), and finally see its magnificence for a brief moment, but it soon disappears with the blink of an eye. It’s best to keep a small stockpile in your cupboard. Supermarkets and corner stores in Argentina have aisles lined with jars of various brands. The more expensive you get, the thicker the paste and richer the taste. Cheaper brands are not as velvety in texture and have a harsher sweetness to them.
h3. Is dulce de leche fattening?
Please. The ingredients are a can of milk and a bag of sugar, what do you think? Worth every lip-smacking spoonful though.
h3. When do you eat dulce de leche?
For breakfast you can spread it on your bread like peanut butter or, as many do, buy a selection of dulce de leche pastries (try cañoncitos). As a snack, there are plenty of candy bars with an added dulce de leche kick. It’s also the country’s most popular flavour of ice cream. If you’re stuck for dessert ideas, just open a jar and stick in a spoon.
Image courtesy of José María Mateos via Flickr
h3. Why do we love dulce de leche?
Not liking dulce de leche is like saying you don’t like kittens or movies. Everybody eats dulce de leche. In France it’s known as confiture de lait, and in North America as milk caramel, but in Argentina when someone asks you ‘Queires dulce de leche?,’ the substance is pronounced as if it were sacred. Eyes light up when the words are uttered, as thoughts of its smooth sweetness manifest in the brain. When you see an Argentine slather it over a piece of bread or take an indulgent mouthful of dulce de leche ice cream, you can tell that satisfying a sweet tooth is only half the story; dulce de leche is as much a part of daily life as family, food and mate tea.
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