This post is about decadence. It is a reinvention of one of my favorite flavors. And it is a nod to my lifelong love for exotic spices.
This dulce de leche recipe is done the correct way (no cooking tin cans of sweetened condensed milk ever again). It is a simple recipe that relies on the magic ingredient of so many good recipes: time. It requires patience.
The accomplices: coffee, cinnamon, vanilla bean, cardamom, and salt.
You will need a thick 2-quart sauce pan (this is the one I use), a wooden spoon, a mesh strainer, and some mason jars.
4 cups whole milk (this is not the time to be skimpy)
1 cup sugar in the raw (or turbinado)
2 tbsp. dark coffee beans
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
5 cardamom pods
Pinch of fleur de sel (pink salt or sea salt will do in a pinch)
Bring milk and sugar to a low boil, then turn the heat to a low flame. Add the coffee beans, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods whole. Scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod and add them to the pot. For about an hour, you will stir this divine concoction nearly constantly (if you let it go for too long it may stick and burn). Watch as the milk thickens into a heavenly golden syrup. Add the salt toward the end.
After an hour has passed and the mixture has reached the texture of thick molasses, take it off the flame and let it cool. Strain into mason jars and consume immediately or save for later. Dulce de leche will stay good in your fridge for one to two weeks, and it will stay good in your freezer for several months.
Try it on vanilla ice cream, on churros, on pancakes, with friends, alone, it’s really up to you. One thing is for sure: you’ll be so proud of yourself for standing there stirring the damn thing for an hour, you shall marvel at the wonderful, intensely decadent flavor you’ve created.