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Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

Find out more about the most famous Argentinian dessert – the dulce de leche. Learn about the dulce de leche recipe and the dulce de leche ingredients.

Dulce de leche is a traditional Argentinian dessert that is enjoyed across the world. Despite having its origins in Argentina, there are many other Latin American countries famous for having their own variations of dulce de leche, such as the neighboring country of Uruguay.

Depending on where you are, dulce de leche can also be referred to as manjar, manjar blanco, arequipe, or cajeta. When literally translated, dulce de leche means “sweet from milk”, however, in English it is commonly known as milk jam or milk candy and can be used to form rich fillings, flavor ice-cream or to create delicious dulce de leche cheesecake, for example.

Dulce de leche recipes vary depending on where you find them. In Argentina the treat is made using milk and sugar plus a small amount of vanilla essence and baking soda. In Uruguay however, dulce de leche ingredients are simpler, requiring just milk and sugar.

Making dulce de leche is fairly straightforward as milk is slowly heated with sugar and other the ingredients if required. The mixture is stirred gently throughout allowing the water from the milk to evaporate leaving behind the thick, sweet dulce de leche. However, care must be taken to not overheat the milk and the mixture must be stirred constantly to avoid burning. In some cases cream is added to the milk if it is not considered creamy enough and some places use goat milk as an alternative to cow milk.

The first historical reference to the Argentinian dessert comes from a peace meeting between Juan Manuel de Rosas and his political enemy, Juan Lavalle, in 1829. According to legend, dulce de leche was produced by accident when Manuel de Rosa's maid was cooking some milk and sugar and was unexpectedly called. Upon her return, the mixture had transformed into a thick, brown consistency. From that point forward, the new dessert was referred to as dulce de leche. Other early references to dulce de leche also come from Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais.

An easier dulce de leche recipe that you can try in your own home is achieved by simply piercing a few holes in the top of a can of condensed milk and then placing it in a pan of boiling water with the holes facing up.  Simmer for 30 minutes if you want runny dulce de leche or for up to 4 hours for thicker consistencies. Nevertheless, dulce de leche connoisseurs maintain that dulce de leche with condensed milk does not even come close to the true, traditionally produced dulce de leche which use only the simplest of ingredients to create the richest result, like those dulce de leche recipes found in Argentina and Uruguay.