Dulce de leche in Spanish is a milk-based sauce. Found as
both a syrup and a caramel candy, it is prepared by slowly heating sweetened
milk to create a product that is vaguely similar in taste to caramel. It is also
the basis for the elaboration of many sweets and desserts which form part of the
classics of the Argentinian, Colombian, Paraguayan, Chilean, Peruvian, Uruguayan
and, Brazilian cuisine.
Left: A jar of dulce
It is especially popular in South American countries. The French preparation
confiture de lait is very similar to the spreadable forms of dulce de leche.
There are also similar desserts around all Latin America (such as cajeta in
Mexico or manjar blanco in Peru).
The most basic recipe calls for slowly simmering milk and sugar, stirring almost
constantly, although other ingredients 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 often called
caramelization, scientifically described as the Maillard reaction, a chemical
reaction that is responsible for browning, which helps to develop many of the
flavors of cooked food.
Dulce de leche is used to flavor candies or other sweet foods, such as cakes,
cookies or ice cream, as well as
crème caramel ("flan" in
Spanish and Portuguese). It is also popular spread on toast.
Left: Muffins with
dulce de leche sauce.
One of the most common
might be considered "Dulce de Leche candy".