Thursday, February 3, 2011
This thick, unctuous and very sweet mixture of milk and sugar is known throughout Latin America, from the Rio Grande in Mexico's north, to Cape Horn at the bottom of South America, and in recent years has begun to conquer new territories in the USA and Canada. It's only in the parts of the Americas that have an Iberian colonial past where it truly reigns as the king of sweets, though.
In Brazil, kids (and sometimes even adults) love to eat doce de leite straight up - out of the jar or can. The bulk of it, though, is used in the creation of sweets and desserts. For instance, doce de leite is a favorite flavor of ice cream (sorvete) everywhere in Brazil - an idea that has been adopted by Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs, among others. Bakeries and confectionaries use it as a filling for cream puffs, sponge roll cakes and between layers of layer cakes. It makes a delicious dessert sauce when heated and thinned with whole milk or even better, cream.
Making doce de leite at home is not that difficult, though most Brazilians buy theirs at the shop. There are a wide range of doces de leite available, from large industrial producers, like Nestlé or Parmalat, to small and artisanal producers on dairy farms in every region of the country. In the next post, I'll provide a DIY recipe for making doce de leite in your own kitchen.