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This dulce de leche Argentine recipe is for the best homemade gooey caramel-like sauce everyone will love. Made with only 5 ingredients, it is the perfect topping for any dessert. Transport your taste buds to Argentina, with this beloved treat.
What is Dulce de Leche Argentina Style?
The Argentinian dulce de leche is a typical dessert of the southern nation. It is literally sweetened milk or milk jam, similar to a type of caramel.
In Argentina, dulce de leche is practically a religion. It is the sweet soul of the country.
Dulce de leche Argentina is a light brown caramel colored sticky spread made with milk, sugar, cream, vanilla, and baking soda.
It is eaten as an everyday delicacy in Argentina and South America in general. From breakfast to dessert and late night snacks, dulce de leche can be found on the table at every meal.
It is simply the defining sweet of Argentina.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One cannot talk about dulce de leche without talking about alfajores. These are melt-in-your-mouth cooking sandwiches most commonly filled with dulce de leche. If you haven’t tried alfajores before, you have to know Argentina’s most popular snack. You can have Havanna alfajores shipped to your home via Amazon and taste this sweet treat from Argentina.
Dulce de Leche Around The World
Dulce de leche is a sweet with a thousand names. It is particularly popular in the South American countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
While the basic dulce de leche is the same, the proportion of milk, sugar and cooking time vary.
In Chile, Peru and Bolivia, the local variation is known as manjar blanco. In Columbia and Venezuela, it goes by arequipe.
The French version is known as confiture de lait. And, in English countries, this sweet mixture goes by milk jam, caramel, or milk sweet.
History of Dulce de Leche Argentina
The origin story of dulce de leche is highly contentious. Both Argentina and Uruguay claim dulce de leche as a Gastronomical Heritage.
According to legend, the creation of Argentinian dulce de leche happened by accident.
The story goes that in 1829, a housekeeper to General Juan Manuel de Rosas forgot a “grout” on the stove. Grout is a mixture of milk and sugar.
The mixture was cooked over low heat, until obtaining a product with a similar consistency to the current dulce de leche.
The housekeeper liked the result and she shared it with her boss. General Rosas also loved it and brought the mixture to General Juan Lavalle, while they discussed the Cañuelas Pact.
This pact or peace meeting was an attempt to put an end to the civil war in Buenos Aires.
Uruguay attributes the origins of dulce de leche to slaves of the colonial era. The mixture is said to have been concocted as their way of consuming milk and sugar.
Today, UNESCO recognizes dulce de leche as a gastronomic heritage of Rio de la Plata, the area shared by Argentina and Uruguay.
And, on every 11th of October, Dulce de Leche Day is celebrated worldwide.
Here’s your dulce de leche Argentine recipe to get you ready for the celebrations.
Discovering Dulce de Leche in Argentina
While exploring the authentic food in Argentina, we were struck by the popularity of dulce de leche.
Everywhere we looked, there was dulce de leche. The amount of shelf space in grocery stores dedicated to Argentine dulce de leche was impressive.
Multiple rows filled with different brands and package sizes, similar to cereal shelf space in US grocery stores.
From pastries, snacks, ice-cream and desserts, you are never far from this sweet treat.
To better understand Argentina’s deep love and craving for dulce de leche, we met with a local artisan producer.
Maria Ana Gianni, a local entrepreneur in Buenos Aires, is the founder and creator of Tota Alimentos & Bebidas.
Her company, named after her grandmother, focuses on natural products made with no preservatives.
Even though she also makes marinated and pickled vegetables, her true passion is for making the best dulce de leche.
She described her process of making Argentine dulce de leche with love and care and a strong desire to make it like her grandmother did.
After tasting multiple brands and jars of dulce de leche Argentine, we were in complete agreement. Maria’s Tota Argentine dulce de leche was among the best we had in the country.
As a small business owner, unfortunately, Maria does not export her handmade Argentine dulce de leche.
She nonetheless gave us her tips and recommendations for how to make the best dulce de leche at home.
Homemade Dulce de Leche Argentinian Recipe
Making dulce de leche is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. With this homemade recipe for the best dulce de leche Argentina, you’ll learn how to make it perfectly, every time.
This Argentine dulce de leche recipe is prepared by cooking milk and sugar over heat for approximately 3 hours.
Dulce de Leche Argentina – How To Make it Home
Ideal Equipment For Best Results
Use a large pot with a thick bottom, as it allows better heat distribution. This will help the dulce de leche not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Similarly, use a deep pot to avoid any burns by dulce de leche bubbling over.
To stir the dulce de leche, you’ll need a strong whisk with a good grip for continuous stirring.
How To Tell When Your Argentinian Dulce de Leche is Ready
To test if your dulce de leche is ready, place a clean and dry plate in the freezer before making the sweet spread.
Once the Argentine dulce de leche starts turning brown, remove the plate from the freezer and put a spoonful of the mixture on it.
Lightly press the mixture with a teaspoon as if to spread it around the plate. If the dulce de leche mixture stays separated and is not runny, then it is ready.
How to Store Dulce de Leche
Dulce de leche Argentina keeps very well, at room temperature, in a glass jar, in a cool place.
Every time you take a serving, remember to use only clean and dry cutlery. In this case, dulce de leche can last about three weeks.
Some people prefer to keep the dulce de leche in the fridge. In the fridge, it will keep for up to two months.
However, because of the cooler temperatures, the texture of dulce de leche changes and it becomes denser.
In this case, remove the dulce de leche from the fridge at least 30 minutes before using it. This will allow it to become less dense and spread easier.
How To Use Dulce de Leche
There is no one who can resist eating the dulce de leche by the teaspoon. But, there are dozens of other ways to eat this traditional South American milk jam.
This creamy caramel flavor is used in ice cream, spread onto cookies, pancakes, waffles and more.
Although if you asked an Argentine, the answer is always “dulce de leche was invented for Argentine desserts.”
It is the typical filling for Argentina alfajores, Rogel cake or the simple Chocotorta, no-bake chocolate cake.
How to Make Argentine Dulce de Leche Fast
There is another way of making dulce de leche Argentina, using only 1-ingredient. In Argentina, they talk about this as being the “lazy way.”
The cooking process is relatively fast, compared to the traditional way of making dulce de leche. However, the results are moderately satisfactory.
The best recipe for Argentine dulce de leche is the traditional one. But this fast version can get you out of a tight spot, and you only need water and a can of condensed milk.
In the fast version, start with thick and good quality condensed milk. The Nestle condensed milk is a good option.
Using a pressure cooker, fill the pot with approximately 3 liters of water. Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Clean it and place it in the water.
With the amount of water, the can should be adequately covered and the pressure cooker should not dry out during cooking.
Cook over low-medium heat for about 90 minutes. Wait for the pressure cooker to release steam and for the water to cook before removing the can of condensed milk.
The color should be a caramel-golden color. Once the dulce de leche has cooked, transfer it into a glass jar and store it in a cool place or in the fridge.
Dulce de Leche Argentine – Step by Step Instructions
Mix all the dulce de leche ingredients together and stir over low heat until all the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cook for about 1 hour until it becomes light beige in color.
After cooking for two hours, the dulce de leche mixture should start turning brown. The Argentine dulce de leche will be ready when it turns to a golden caramel color.
This is when you should do the cold-plate test.
Dulce de Leche Argentina Recipe
- Place a large pot with a thick bottom and high walls, on your cooktop and turn to low-heat.
- Mix the milk, heavy cream, vanilla, baking soda, and sugar into the pot. Stir with a whisk until all the sugar dissolves.
- Cook over low heat, uncovered, for about an hour. No need to stir now. You will only notice that the milk takes on a subtle light-yellow color.
- Continue cooking for one more hour. You will notice that the mixture begins to take on a light-beige color. No need to stir.
- After the first two and a half hours have passed. You should start stirring, without stopping for approximately 20 minutes.
- You will know your dulce de leche is ready when you try to spread it on a cold plate.
- Once the dulce de leche has the desired consistency and beautiful golden-brown color, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
- Once the dulce de leche is completely cool, transfer the caramel into a clean, dry glass jar and enjoy.
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More Local Food Experiences and Recipes
Curious by nature, Rosemary loves exploring new flavors and connecting with locals. She shares her insights and culinary finds from her travels to inspire people to connect local through food.