Dulce de leche
A jar of dulce de leche
|Alternative name(s)||Manjar, manjar blanco|
|Place of origin||Argentina, Uruguay|
|Region or state||Río de la Plata, South America|
|Main ingredient(s)||Milk, sugar|
Dulce de leche (pronounced: [ˈdulse ðe ˈletʃe]; Portuguese: doce de leite [ˈdosi dʒi ˈlejtʃi]) is an confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from the caramelisation of the product, changing flavor and color. Literally translated, it means "candy of milk" or "candy [made] of milk", "milk candy", or "milk jam" in the same way that dulce de frutilla is strawberry jam. It is popular in South America, notably in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. The same goes for Chile and Ecuador where it is known as manjar (Spanish for delicacy). In Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, it is referred to as manjar blanco or arequipe, depending on regional variations. In Brazil, it is known by its Portuguese name doce de leite.
The dulce de leche of El Salvador has a soft, crumbly texture, with an almost crystallized form. A Mexican version called cajeta is made from goat's milk. In the Dominican Republic it is made with equal parts milk and sugar with cinnamon, and the texture is more like fudge. In Puerto Rico dulce de leche is sometimes made with unsweetened coconut milk.
A French version, known as confiture de lait, is very similar to the spreadable forms of dulce de leche. A Norwegian version, Hamar-pålegg ("Hamar spread"), better known as HaPå, is a commercial variant that is thicker and less sweet.
Preparation and uses 
The most basic recipe calls for slowly simmering milk and sugar, stirring almost constantly, although other ingredients – such as sodium bicarbonate and one vanilla pod (or essence) – may be included to achieve special properties. Much of the water in the milk evaporates and the mix thickens; the resulting dulce de leche is usually about a sixth of the volume of the milk used. The transformation that occurs in preparation is caused by a combination of two common browning reactions called caramelization and the Maillard reaction.
A home-made form of dulce de leche is sometimes made by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours (or 30 to 45 minutes in a pressure cooker), particularly by those living in countries where it cannot be bought ready-made. It is dangerous to do this on a stove: if the pot is allowed to boil dry, the can will overheat and explode.
Dulce de leche is used to flavour candies or other sweet foods, such as cakes, cookies (see alfajor), crème caramel (known as flan in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions), and ice creams; it provides the "toffee" part of English Banoffee pie and is also a popular spread on pancakes and toast, while the French confiture de lait is commonly served with fromage blanc.
A solid candy made from dulce de leche, similar to the Polish krówka and named Vaquita ("little cow"), was manufactured by the Mu-Mu factory in Argentina until the company went out of business in 1984. Subsequently, other brands began to manufacture similar candies, giving them names such as "Vauquita" and "Vaquerita" in an effort to link their products to the original. Something very similar is available in candy form, by the Storck corporation, called Werthers Echte. A classic, nostalgic European – especially German and Scandinavian – candy bonbon.
A similar recipe is used to prepare basundi in India, which resembles a less condensed dulce de leche, flavoured with cardamom and eaten as a dessert. The Philippines also has dulce de leche, where it is usually paired with cakes or breakfast rolls. As in other places, it has also found its way into other desserts such as cakes and ice cream.
This is also known in Russia as boiled concentrated milk (the Russian equivalent of sweetened concentrated milk).
In 1997, the ice cream company Häagen-Dazs introduced a dulce de leche-flavoured ice cream. In the same year, Starbucks began offering dulce de leche-flavoured coffee products. In early 2009, Girl Scouts of the USA introduced cookies with dulce de leche-flavored chips as part of their annual cookie sales program. In October 2012 Herbalife released a limited edition dulce de leche flavored nutritional shake mix.
See also 
- "Dulce de leche recipe". Food Network. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner. p. 657. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- Kijac, Maria Baez (2003). The South American Table: The Flavor and Soul of Authentic Home Cooking from Patagonia to Rio de Janeiro, with 450 Recipes. Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press. p. 391. ISBN 1-55832-249-3. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- Google books Orange Coast Magazine Nov 1998
- Felice Torre (2007). "Taste the Flavors of my Homeland". Starbucks.[dead link]
- "New weights and shapes (PDF)". Girl Scouts Eastern Washington & Northen Idaho. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- "Girl Scouts. Meet the Cookies: Dulce de Leche". Girlscouts.org. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Limited Edition Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix, Dulce de Leche
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