I tried to make dulce de leche the other night. Normally, this involves boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water for three hours. It says right on the can not to boil it in the can. Yeah, right, nobody puts baby in a corner. I’ve never had a can blow up on me; sending shrapnel into my head and the cottage cheese ceiling in some glorious jihad for caramel. Of course, since my dad warned me this could happen, I've been super careful (and/or paranoid) about it for years.
That was before I had Proximo and lost my mind.
I put a can on to boil last week. You must check the pot often to make sure it has water inside it—you know, because when you boil water it evaporates. Still with me?
So I’d put a can on to boil and promptly forgot about it. Time for some relaxing on the couch with the babies. I started recalling all the good crème brulees I’ve had, including the one I shared with Sarah K. in April and one from years ago at Restaurant Roy. It was like I could taste AND smell them. Curiously, I could also hear some strange pops and other noises coming from the kitchen.
Oh, yeah, I left a can with contents under pressure on direct heat. I am awesome.
I was terrified to even go into the kitchen—what if it exploded right then? So I held up my arm to my eyes…I don’t need that right arm anyway. On the stove the can was weeping burnt sugar and the seams were twisted metal. I took it off the heat, thanking my lucky stars I had gotten it off the stove in time. I should have asked my lucky stars why they weren’t reminding me to put water in the pot, like I’ve been doing for 25 years.
Last night, I decided to try another method I’d read about: microwaving the sweetened condensed milk. Relax, I poured it out of the can first, I’m not that far gone. Even with the micro on half power, it bubbled over the glass bowl several times. I kept stopping the micro and stirring with my spatula to prevent more boiling over.
On about the 8th stir, I pulled the spatula out and noticed that half of the spatula was no longer there. What? I grabbed the bowl out of the micro and set it on the counter. I fished out several large pieces of plastic, but noticed other pieces disintegrating in front of my eyes. Yes, I had melted plastic into the dulce de leche. It smelled weird. It had an oddly non stick quality. I briefly considered feeding it to my family anyway. I said briefly, right?
If you can stand the adventure, have some dulce de leche. It's delicious with apples, on bread, and uhm, straight from a spoon for you die hards. I don't happen to have any at my house right now.
You can always wimp out and buy it at your local latin market if you're not into X-Treme Kitchen Sports.