If you ask me if I wanted a brick of gold or a jar of dulce de leche, I’d choose dulce de leche.
I first tasted this stuff years ago while P and I both studied abroad. While I chose Oslo, Norway, P. headed straight to Madrid, Spain. When I visited him there he introduced me to many fantastic Spanish foods. I loved most of the sweet treats I tried there and I realized that other countries know how to worship their caramel. I always had a special love for all things caramel. In Norway I used to buy smil saus (a caramel sauce) for my ice cream, in the UK I bought caramel filled chocolate bars from a vending machine almost every day. And in Spain I learned about dulce de leche. Translated this means milk jam and dulce de leche is sweetened and milk which is cooked for hours. Thickened and caramelized it has a wonderfully sweet milky toffee flavour. Dulce de leche is a Latin American product which is popular in Spain and has a french twin, called confiture de lait. You can use it as a spread for bread like you would use jam or you can use it for cookies, cakes, and ice cream.
Both and P. were seriously addicted to the complex and rich flavour of this fantastic milk caramel spread.
Okay, as in most posts about food memories on this blog we have to insert a huge “not vegan” sign or something similar. Because how can condensed cow milk be delicious? When I became vegan dulce de leche wasn’t associated with a wonderful taste experience any longer but with concentrated suffering in a jar.
But of course there is a solution to this problem. You can now enjoy the wonderful flavour of dulce de leche de soja y coco. To make vegan dulce de leche you don’t need any fancy ingredients like vegan condensed milk or rice syrup. Traditional dulce de leche is made from mostly milk and sugar. All you need is lots of time. It’s best made on a free evening or the weekend when you know you won’t leave the house for the next three hours. I know that sounds time consuming . But you don’t have to watch your milk mixture transform into dulce de leche all the time. You just have to check on it every 20 minutes or so. And I didn’t use my stove much the last two weeks. So when it fianlly cooled down yesterday, I was ready to make up for the lack of cooking.
For the vegan dulce de leche, I used this recipe and adapted it a bit. After I had made a batch, I realized that half the amount of sugar would have been enough. Most other dulce de leche recipes call for less sugar (like this one). I really like both flavour and texture of this version, but I am curious how a different ratio of milk to sugar will affect the taste.
Vegan Dulce de Leche
820 ml (3 1/2 cups) soy milk
120 ml (1/2 cup) full fat coconut milk
400 g (2 cups) sugar
1/4 tsp ground vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch baking soda (to prevent curdling)
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup*
* the syrup is optional. I makes the dulce darker and emphasizes the caramel flavour, but it is not necessary. It depends on ones taste and preferences. For a “milkier” and probably more authentic version leave it out.
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low. The mixture should simmer slowly, not boil. Very small bubbles and only a little bit of foam on the surface is what you’ll want. Not a lot of foam and definitely no overboiling. Simmer the mixture for three hours. Check on it every 15 – 20 minutes and stir from time to time. After 2 1/2 hours check on it more often and stir. It will get darker and the texture will change. It should have reduced to less than half the amount it was in the beginning. If it has reached the desired consistency, transfer to glass jars, close them with a lid and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator. It will harden a bit when cold, so take it out of the fridge at least 1-2 hours before using.
I have some recipes planned involving this spread (dulce de leche ice cream, anyone?), so stay tuned.