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Dulce de leche


Dulce de leche in Spanish or doce de leite in Portuguese ("milk candy"), is a milk-based syrup. Found as both a sauce and a caramel-like candy, it is popular across Latin America. It is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product similar in taste to caramel.

Especially popular in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, it is also consumed in Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. In Mexico, it is known as cajeta, manjarblanco in Peru, simply manjar in Chile, and arequipe in Guatemala, Colombia and Venezuela. The name literally means sweet of milk or milk candy in Spanish and Portuguese. The French preparation confiture de lait is very similar to the spreadable forms of dulce de leche.

Origins and variations

There are many stories about the origin. One story involves the 19th century Argentinian caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas. The story goes that in a winter afternoon at the Rosas house, the maid was making some lechada—a drink made with milk and sugar boiled until it starts to caramelize—and she heard someone knocking at the door. She left the lechada on the stove and went to answer the door; and when she came back, the lechada was burnt and had turned into a brown jam: dulce de leche.

It is, however, more likely to have its origins in Europe, possibly as the French confiture de lait: a popular similar legend dating back from the 14th century exists in the region of Normandy, involving a cook from the military troops who had the same culinary accident when making sweetened milk for breakfast. Variations of this legend refer to a cook in Napoleon's army.

The most popular dulce de leche brands in Argentina are Chimbote,La Serenisima and Sancor. The most popular dulce de leche brands in Uruguay are Conaprole and Lapataia, which is made in Punta del Este.

There are also other Brazilian, Chilean, Dominican, Paraguayan, Venezuelan and Colombian varieties of it, which are solid and can be cut into bars. The Venezuelan variety is made in the city of Coro, in the Northwest of the country, and is sold as either pure dulce de leche or made with chocolate swirled in (dulce de leche con chocolate). The Dominican variety of the solid version is traditionally sold in blocks formed with strips of dulce de leche and solid fruit jam, usually orange, guava or coconut.

A solid candy made out of Dulce de Leche, similar to the Polish Krowki, was also very popular, named Vaquita ("little cow") was manufactured by the Mu-Mu factory in Argentina. After the factory went out of business in 1984 (as a consequence of financial speculation by its owners), other brands began to manufacture similar candies giving them names such as Vauquita and Vaquerita in an effort to link their products to the original.

The Mexican cajeta is named after the small wooden boxes it was traditionally packed in. Developed as a specialty of the town Celaya in the state of Guanajuato, the Mexican version of dulce de leche is made of half goat's milk and half cow's milk.

Preparation and uses

Its most basic recipe calls for slowly boiling milk and sugar, although other ingredients may be included to achieve special properties. Dulce de leche may also be prepared by cooking sweetened condensed milk for several hours. Although the transformation that occurs in preparation is often called caramelization, it is actually a form of the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that is responsible for many of the flavors of cooked food. Dulce de leche is usually one sixth the size of its original volume.

Dulce de leche is used to flavor candies or other sweet foods, such as cakes, cookies (see alfajor) or ice cream, as well as flan. It is also popular spread on toast. Confiture de lait is commonly served with fromage blanc.

In early April 2007, Starbucks began offering Dulce de Leche flavored lattes and Frappuccinos. [*].

Variations

Dulce de Leche Cortada

This version of dulce de leche is most common in Cuban cuisine, and is often eaten alone as a dessert. Cortada, meaning cut or choppy, refers to the somewhat lumpy style and texture of the dessert. However, when ordering the dessert at a Cuban establishment one only needs to ask for a dulce de leche because it is given that it is "cortado."

Manjar Blanco

There is a partially similar confection known as Manjar blanco (white delicacy) in Peru and Chile, but the preparation of this delicacy normally avoids fully completing the Maillard reaction of the sugars and so has a different flavor and appearance.

See also

Banoffee pie

Cajeta

Caramel

Confiture de lait

Flan

Maillard reaction

Penuche

Teja (confectionery)

External links

A simple recipe for making Dulce de Leche using only a can of sweetened condensed milk

Dulce de Leche's history, published in English

Recipe of an Argentinean variation

Recipe for Dulce de Leche Cortada - Estilo Cubano

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Dulce de leche


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