Many coffee lovers enjoy their favorite beverage with a sweet and delicious sauce added, but one of the more intriguing options is dulce de leche. The confection will appeal to those who love the taste of caramel in their coffee. Indeed, there are striking similarities between dulce de leche and caramel sauce.
But what exactly is this intriguing alternative? In this article, we will examine the origins of dulce de leche, how it differs from caramel sauce, ways you can make it at home and how to use it in a delicious coffee recipe. Let’s get started.
What Is Dulce De Leche?
Dulce de leche is a confection whose origins are unclear. Some date it specifically to 1829. However, most experts agree that it probably originated in South America – possibly Argentina or Uruguay – sometime in the early 19th century . It’s also called Manjar Blanco in Spanished, which is used in a variety of desserts, sweets, and even coffee.
Traditionally, dulce de leche was made by simmering and constant stirring milk, sugar and baking soda for up to two hours. After the chemical reaction, such as Maillard reaction and caramelization, you have the brown-golden spreadable milk jam that tastes great.
A common way to make dulce de leche at home is to boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a hot water bath for several hours. This method can even be done in the Instant Pot or any pressure cooker, which takes only 30 to 45 minutes. One thing to note is that producing the confection this way can be dangerous as it could lead to the can exploding, so proper safety measures need to be followed.
Dulce De Leche vs Caramel Sauce In Coffee
Essentially, dulce de leche is caramelized sweetened condensed milk. That means it is creamy, rich and sweet, making it an ideal accompaniment in baking for adding flavor. However, it also works beautifully in coffee. It also takes significantly longer to make from scratch than other confections, including rich caramel sauce.
Caramel sauce is made of sugar, cream and butter, and caramelizing the ingredients over an extremely high heat. Meanwhile, caramel syrup consists of sugar and water and is commonly used in iced coffee. Caramel sauce and caramel syrup are, therefore, much quicker to make at home.
Despite their different ingredients and preparation methods, overall, the substances are virtually identical texturally and in flavor. However, dulce de leche is generally stickier and thicker.
Four Ways To Make Dulce De Leche At Home – Dulce De Leche Recipe
There are at least four ways to make dulce de leche at home. Let’s take a look at them.
Making Dulce De Leche at home is easy but time-consuming, you just need one ingredient – Canned sweetened condensed milk. It is commonly used in Vietnamese coffee, but the caramelized version tastes even better.
After making Dulce De Leche, you can store the leftover dulce de leche in an airtight container for up to three weeks in a fridge, and enjoy it anytime you want.
Method One: Using An Oven
- Preheat your oven the 350F and pour the can of sweet milk into a loaf pan or any small baking pan.
- Next, position that pan inside a larger baking pan.
- Pour hot water into the large pot until it reaches the same level or higher than the sweetened condensed milk.
- Cover the pan holding the sweetened condensed milk with foil and place both pans in the oven.
- Bake for between 2 to 4 hours, stirring regularly in between. The longer you bake, the darker the substance will be.
- Add more water to the larger pan when it evaporates.
- Finally, remove the pans from your oven and allow the dulce de leche to cool completely before consuming. If it’s a little lumpy, once it is cool you can blend it if necessary.
Method Two: Using A Pressure Cooker
- Fill the pressure cooker with water.
- Take the label of the can and place it inside the pressure cooker.
- Cook for 35 minutes.
- Turn off the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Leave the can in the water until it is completely cool – this may take several hours. It is essential you follow this instruction as opening the can while it is still warm, the dulce de leche could explode. This method is likely to give the most satisfying results, leaving Dulce de Leche that is both the can creamy.
Method Three: Using A Stovetop
- Fill pot with water, remove the label from the can and place it in the pot, ensuring the can is fully immersed in the water by at least a few inches.
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, then allow the boiling water simmer for 2 to 4 hours.
- Keep checking to ensure the water level remains several inches above the can.
- After the cooking time has elapsed, turn the heat off and allow the water and the can to cool completely before removing the can and opening it. As with the pressure cooker method, don’t open the can before it is fully cooled.
- For a very thick and pipeable substance, aim towards the four-hour mark.
Method Four: Using A Microwave
- Open the can of condensed milk and pour it into a microwaveable bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a splatter guard or plastic wrap, allowing one corner to be uncovered so the steam can escape.
- Place it in the microwave and heat at the medium setting.
- After each minute, check the level of caramelization. Repeat this step for around 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir after each minute to remove lumps and ensure even caramelization.
- By now, the milk will be brown and grainy. Use a hand-held blender or manual mixer to blend until it becomes smooth.
- When it is lump free, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, with the plastic wrap touching the caramel to avoid a skin forming.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator for several hours.
How To Make Dulce De Leche Coffee
- 1 tablespoon of dulce de leche (and some extra for piping over the top of the coffee).
- 3 parts milk or whipped cream
- Double shot of espresso
- Cocoa powder
- Espresso machine
- Milk frother
- Coffee mug
Step 1: Make the homemade dulce de leche using one of the methods described earlier.
Step 2: Pull a double shot of espresso by grinding your beans on a coarse setting, then filling your portafilter to the edge with your grounds and it tamping firmly. Lock the portafilter into the machine and pull your espresso shots.
Step 3: Add a tablespoon of dulce de leche to the bottom of a coffee mug.
Step 4: Pour the double espresso shot over the dulce de leche and top it with some steamed milk, pouring slowly. Alternatively, you can use whipped cream. Add two to three dollops over the dulce de leche if you use whipped cream.
Step 5: Drizzle some more dulce de leche on top. For a really professional look, try a criss-cross pattern and enjoy!
You can also add some cocoa powder over the coffee after drizzling on the dulce de leche if you prefer.
There are several great reasons for trying dulce de leche in your coffee. First, it is relatively straightforward to make at home and requires very little equipment or ingredients to do so. There are also several ways you can make it depending on your kitchen equipment. Each is time-consuming in one way or another, but the result is worth it, with a delicious caramel sauce-like confection the result.
While you can use dulce de leche in many deserts, including cakes and drizzled on ice cream, it is also an excellent addition to coffee – particularly if you have a love for caramel or a sweet tooth.
While it isn’t markedly different from caramel sauce in either texture or flavor, dulce de leche is well worth trying, particularly if you have an experimental side and would like to try something with such a long history and with origins in Latin America.
Overall, we highly recommend trying dulce de leche for a sweet and indulgent coffee treat.