Dulce De Leche: How to Make Your Own and 5 Dessert Recipes It Stars In

Dulce de leche: South America’s most delicious idea yet. It is a thick, creamy spread that is made by slowly heating sweetened condensed milk, and while it can easily be homemade, some find the idea of buying it canned in the store even simpler. Dulce de leche is hot on the food scene these days, and it stars in a number of decadent dessert recipes that can make just about anybody’s mouth water. Today we’re showcasing one fool-proof way to make the sauce on your own, and then giving you five different ways to incorporate the spread into your desserts. Whether you make dulce de leche homemade or buy it at the store, just make sure you do one of the two, because after you taste one of these five dessert recipes that require the sauce, you’ll never look at South America-inspired desserts the same way again.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

First up, as we promised, here’s Chow’s simple tutorial on making your own dulce de leche. As long as you have time and patience, you’re not going to mess this up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Directions: Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the middle. Pour milk into a pie plate and sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and add enough hot tap water to reach halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 1 hour.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and remove the pie plate. Carefully uncover the plate and whisk the mixture until smooth, about 1 minute. Replace the foil and return the pie plate to the water in the roasting pan. Place back in the oven, adding more hot water so that it remains halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Continue to bake until the dulce de leche is dark golden brown (about the color of peanut butter), about 1 1/2 hours more.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pie plate to a wire rack. Remove the foil and whisk the dulce de leche until smooth, about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in an airtight container with a tightfitting lid for up to 1 week.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Dulce de Leche Cake

Now that you have your dulce de leche on hand, it’s time to make some cake. So, take this recipe from Saveur and get baking. Dulce de leche cake is a classic, and before long you’ll have every family member at the dinner table, from the youngest to the oldest, enjoying the rich indulgence of this delicacy. The best part of dulce de leche cake is its texture, and although this recipe allows you to cut corners and simply use a can of the spread, don’t be afraid to get ambitious and enlist your homemade kind.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 16-ounce jar dulce de leche

Directions: Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with the butter and dust with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Invert the dish, tap out the excess flour, and set aside. Sift the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. Put the egg whites into a large bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. While the mixer is still running, add the sugar in a gradual stream and continue beating again to soft peaks. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add the reserved flour mixture and the whole milk in 3 parts, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the rum and vanilla and beat again briefly until smooth.

Pour batter into reserved baking pan and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Set the cake aside and let cool slightly for 30 minutes. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a bowl. Using a knife, poke the cake with holes all over, penetrating to the bottom of the pan. Pour the milk mixture over the warm cake and set aside to let cool completely.

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled and liquid is absorbed, at least 4 hours. Spread the dulce de leche across the top of the cake and serve.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Got an ice cream maker? If you do, be sure you make this dulce de leche ice cream from Epicurious. It’s summer after all, and this spread tastes especially good frozen. This recipe enlists a lot of dairy products, but as Julia Child would say, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream,” and after once taste of this sweet treat, you’ll see why. If there’s ever a time to buy an ice cream maker, it’s now.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

Directions: Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Ginger cream sandwich cookie

Source: iStock

3. Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

Then there are always cookies. Dulce de Leche Cookies from Joy the Baker to be exact. This dessert is worth loosening your belt buckle for. What are you waiting for? Preheat your oven! There are cookies to bake and dulche de leche to spread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup store-bought dulce de leche, plus more for filling
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until just softened and broken up a bit. Add the 3/4 cup dulce de leche, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix only until the flour is just incorporated. You may need to finish off the mixing with a big spatula. Spoon the dough onto the lined baking sheets using a heaping teaspoon of dough for each cookie. The dough will be soft and this might be a bit messy. Leave 2 inches of space between each cookie for the baking spread.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will be honey brown with a light crust, but still very soft when they come out of the oven. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to cool. Once the cookies are cooled completely, spread them with dulce de leche and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt if you like. Keep well wrapped for up to four days.

Streusel Crumb Cake

Source: iStock

4. Cinnamon Walnut Dulce de Leche Bars

Did we mention dulce de leche goes well with cinnamon? Well now you know. Still don’t believe us? Try these Cinnamon Walnut Dulce de Leche bars from The KitchnThis Latin American sweet treat is sure to make a dulce de leche devotee out of you, and then will force you to also convince your guests.

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Kosher salt

Dough & Crumb Walnut Topping

  • 1 1/8 cups unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks, or 18 tablespoons), softened and divided
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum, divided
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dulce de Leche

Directions: Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and then line the pan with parchment paper so the ends hang over the long sides. To make the filling, whisk the butter, honey, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. The mixture will turn from a creamy pale caramel color to a darker, browned-toast color (see photo above.) Whisk frequently to prevent too many scorched bits from developing. After 15 minutes, whisk the mixture thoroughly one more time and remove from the heat.

While the filling is simmering, make the dough. Beat 1 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon rum in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour, the salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir just until a soft dough forms and the dough pulls away from the bowl. Pat 3/4 of the dough into the prepared baking pan. Pat and spread it into an even layer. Pour the finished filling over the dough and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

To make the crumb walnut topping, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour to the dough that is left in the bowl. Add the walnuts, the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rum. Drop in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and use your fingers to mix everything together until it forms soft, clumpy crumbs. Sprinkle these crumbs over the filling in the pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.

Remove and let cool for 15 minutes. The use the parchment paper ends to lift the cookies out of the pan and place them on a rack to finish cooling. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. If desired, you can drizzle warm dulce de leche over the bars before serving. Slice into 2-inch squares to serve.

Caramel Cheesecake

Source: iStock

5. Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake

We’re going out with a bang with this Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake from Fine Cooking. All we have to say is: you’re welcome. Grab your sweet spread, your cream cheese, and get ready to make a graham cracker crust. If you’re not ready to experience pure Dulce de Leche bliss, then back away from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounce graham crackers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 8-once packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup.) Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, dulce de leche, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth. Add the vanilla and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons water and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and cook without stirring until the sugar begins to turn golden-brown on the edges. Gently swirl the pan over the heat to even out the color, and cook until the sugar turns golden-amber, 3 to 5 minutes. Off the heat, carefully add the cream, butter, and a pinch of table salt. Cook, whisking constantly over medium-low heat until well blended and smooth. Set aside until the caramel has cooled, about 15 minutes. Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust of the cheesecake. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Pour the caramel topping onto the cheesecake and spread evenly. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

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