jetsetgreen

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dulce de Leche

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.

39 comments:

citymama1 said...

I see you're insomniated, too. Glad to hear you were able to avoid the shrapnel.

Mrs. Dub said...

sadly, your tale only left me craving dulce de leche. i mean, what's a little plastic?

Lindsey said...

Wow. All those times I've been warned about making my own dulce de leche (and it is better!)....I'm still going to do it. Danger is exciting in cooking. That's why I like blow torches and cooking with high octane alcohol.

Seriously though--SCARY.

Am'n2deep said...

Wow, three hours? I'm just impressed you're still attempting such a feat! Time and season, you know (at least that's my wimp out excuse). Or, maybe it's just that I've never tasted dulce de leche? Mmmm, wonder how early the latin market opens...

RC Cola! said...

My grandma does that -boil the can of condensed milk. She calls it false pudding or something?

Man, I love that stuff. Totally worth the risk.

Jennifer B. said...

Holy cow! Who knew Dulce de Leche was so X-treme? Glad you avoided injury.

sue-donym said...

You have no idea how happy this post made me.

Kalli Ko said...

Dulce-de-licious!! I love that junk, I pretty much love anything that will make my big butt already bigger. But I mostly like it when someone else will make it for me...

Azúcar said...

Citi- I have no excuse. I should have been in bed.

Dub- a little on a pancito? Yes, please!

Lindsey- I'm just glad to know it's not a false caution, like, the danger is real. It's also manageable if you're not a complete idiot.

2 Deep- I swear it's so easy. Peel off paper, put in medium-large pot, boil over medium heat, add water every 20-30 minutes. Once three hours have passed, cool the can in cool water, do not open for 30 minutes. Ta-da!

RC- false pudding? I love it!

Jenn b- I think this makes up for Monday night when I grabbed the handle of a pan that had been under the broiler. I'm so smart.

Sue- they're not all winners, what can I say?

Kalli- me too, with the butt getting bigger stuff.

Marie said...

Had no idea the boiled-in-a-can dulce de leche was potentially dangerous. Thanks for the warning -- I'll have to tell my mom before she blows up my whole family. (It's about this time of year we all start craving the stuff.)

Azúcar said...

Do it. Seriously. It's so worth it.


Of course I can't be held legally responsible.

But do it.

Queen Scarlett said...

Is this your way of announcing that you are with child too? ;-)

La Yen said...

My mom does it in the crock pot on low while she is at work. Want the details?

Azúcar said...

If I have another baby right now I will not pass Go, I will not collect 200 dollars, I will go directly into the state mental institution. So the answer is NO.

As I was joining together plastic and caramel, I thought about how I should have just done your mom's method (seriously.) Enlighten us all, por favor.

sarah k. said...

I think I'm secretly in love with Kalli Ko. I laughed so hard at dulce-de-licious. I had just (5 minutes ago) decided I'd change my screen name to Sarahlicious (a long and involved thought process came up with that nugget).

Last week, with the tiny farmer's market apples that were crunchy and tart, I decided to dulce-de-leche them, and I thought of you. I grabbed my only can of s-c milk and opened, and BEHOLD! It was already caramelized. I think it mighta been a couple of years old. Or it mighta sat on a moving truck that drove across the country in August. In any case, was I afraid? No!

But I did try to thicken it up a little by boiling in a pan (out of the can), which backfired, and only thinned it. So I gave up and poured it over the apples. And the village people rejoiced.

Maybe you should invest in a double boiler? And a silicon spatula or five.

Azúcar said...

I have, sadly, only one silicone spatula. I haven't been able to justify purchasing another one (although I use it all the time.) Also, I can't decide which colors I want.

The village people love apples with "sauce."

fijiangirl said...

yesterday my 3 year old said she would get the Mac-N-Cheese out for me so I could mix her lunch. I thought that meant putting the box on the counter... no it was her way of telling me she put water in the pot and turned on the stove... all of the sudden I smelled smoke and ran into the kitchen to find a hot sitting on the burner turned to high with absolutely no water

Bek said...

WE used to eat that in Russia all the time. In England they make a delicious dessert called Sticky Toffee Pudding (or Banoffee Pudding) and it is basically that stuff on cake. Yum.

I don't use a croc pot, but I use a huge soup pot and fill it all the way up with water and let it go. This way if it blows up (it never has yet) it is in the water and you don't have to refill it as often....

Tiffany Twisted said...

All I can say is BAKED ALASKA.

Transmission Ended.

Emily said...

so I was still laughing about how "the little piece of your soul that dies every time you walk into wal*mart is not worth the 2.39 savings," and than I came here...and I cannot stop laughing! HA!

thanks.

Olivia said...

This reminds me of the time I decided to sterilize my toothbrush using boiling water so my friend could use it (I now have no qualms about sharing toothbrushes, deodorant, underwear, whatever... that's what happens when you live in a third world country for a year and a half and get used to feeling dirty and gross 24/7). Two hours later we went into the kitchen to find the water boiled away and the toothbrush literally reduced to powder. Plus a bad smell. Boiling is peligroso.

Hollywood said...

So you were boiling it with the can unopened? I'm not clear on this point but it sounds like you are one lucky lady to not have to explain "dulce de leche scars" to your neighbors for the rest of your life. And yes, I wouldn't even consider anything other than just buying the darn stuff. The crock pot sounds like the best way to go for you domestic types though.

Rynell said...

I've also done the boil-in-a-can method many times. No blow ups yet, although I am prone to such catastrophic events. I like the homemade kind better than the one at the latin market. My Argentine mil stashes several kinds in her cupboard for various culinary dulce-delights.

April said...

I've never had dulce de leche. I feel very left out. I'm also glad you won't have to explain those battle scars to a doctor. Maybe he'd make you a case study?

goobit said...

"The great cake disaster"

My husband loves chocolate. A couple years ago for his 40th birthday party, I made a chocolate cake with ganache. I had made it before, but this time I didn't feel like making the dense chocolate cake from scratch so I used a box cake instead. BIG MISTAKE. As I'm sure you know, since you are queen of the baked goods, you can't put heavy ganache on a light, crappy cake made from a mix.

As I poured the ganache over the top, the cake disinegrated before my eyes. I tried to save it and wipe some of the icing off to make it less heavy, but it created a big gaping hole at the top of the cake. I poured a big glob of ganache into the hole and it seemed to be OK (I was in denial), but then I decided to move the cake onto the cake plate. The cake was so disintegrated, that when I moved it, it broke into hundreds of goopy pieces all over the kitchen floor.

Then I had breakdown while my husband laughed hysterically. Which made me cry.

I can laugh about it now......

Azúcar said...

You made trifle!

Oh, goobit, that is one of the number one mistakes; a cake mix does not have the structure to handle ganache or anything too fancy. I have been called into many a wedding cake emergency as a result of some well-meaning friend or relative making a box cake that couldn't stand up to weight.

To Tiffany & the baked alaska (which story I'm saving for a rainy day) I would only say: Strawberries, seeping, under fondant (and a hysterical bride whose cake-maker broke her leg.)

Lacey said...

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?

I love that you thought about feeding it to them anyways.
That's too funny.

My BIL makes this stuff but then he puts it into a pie crust and calls it caramel pie.

La Yen said...

Here is the routine:
Punch a hole in the lid or take the lid off of the can

Fill the crock pot to about 1/4 inch below the lid of your can

Turn on high for about 4 hours
Do not put a lid on the crock pot or the condensation will get into the can and that would be nasty.

Ta Daaa

compulsive writer said...

"It smelled weird. It had an oddly non stick quality." Hahaha.

And thanks la yen. I've never had it. I've always wanted to but been to chicken of that big POP! I would be sure to inspire.


Would this be a good time to ask who has/will give me the Nutella recipe--the one with Nutella and something else like Marshmellow Creme so it makes a good spread for crêpes?

{natalie} said...

you crack me up.

Tiffany said...

Cheap piece of crap spatula. Cheap piece of crap lucky stars.

Holly said...

I have never been brave enough to try and make it from can.

I am now fondly remembering my time as an Hermana in Buenos Aires where I would just squeeze some really good d.d.l. from the bag it came in onto a banana. Que cosa.

Julie said...

When Phil and I were first married and living in a tiny basement apartment, we had a run-in with an errant glass pie plate. Phil was planning to cook something in the microwave using the glass pie plate, so he set it on the stovetop. I was in the process of heating up the stove for something else. (can you see it coming?)

Do you know what happens when you put a glass pie plate on a stove burner and turn on the burner? (accidentally, of course)

Fortunately for both of us, we were not in the pathway of any of the hot, flying shrapnel. But we have pictures of what that hot glass did to the linoleum floor....

sarah k. said...

boiling is peligroso... snerk!

I'm sorry, but are there really people out there that really and truly make those nasty box cake things? And for a wedding? I'm rolling over in my grave. Or I'm saving a good roll, for when I'm in a grave.

Azúcar said...

I tried the can in the crockpot for 6 hours and it didn't work. I'm sure it's just my crockpot sucking. I ended up putting the open can in a pot on the stove and simmering it, which worked, marginally.

I'm also going to try the oven method: bain marie, two cans in a pyrex, 2 hours at something or other degrees (can't be bothered to look it up.)

If not, I'm going back to boiling in the can. You heard me.

Sue said...

I laughed out loud reading this - you never fail to put a smile on my face. I have no idea what dulce de leche even is. Do I win a prize? See, I cook like this on a regular basis, with the shrapnel, and the fear.

Gritty Pretty said...

during my wedding cake catering days i left dulce de leche in a pressure cooker on the stove and then went to a concert. the groom i was making the cake for happened by my kitchen and smelling wierdness took the lid off and had metal can and ddl shrapnel knock off his glasses and give him a scar by his eye just in time for his wedding pics.

i never did get the ddl off the 14 foot tall ceiling.

Anonymous said...

Im cooking 3 unopened/unvented sweet condenced milk cans in the crockpot right now, and they have been simmering in high water for almost 4 hours and I just read the comment that said 6 hours in her crockpot didn't work so I just turned up the dial on my crockpot to hi. I put my timer for every 1 hour to check water level stays covering the top of the cans. Will post the results.

Azúcar said...

The best method I have found so far is to place the unopened can inside a pressure cooker and cook it for one hour. Tada, done to perfection.