Homemade Dulce de Leche!
There are many ways to make dulce de leche...
1. using basically milk and sugar: (a) in a heavy pot on the stove and (b) in a double boiler.
2. using condensed milk in its can by: (a) unopened can cooking in a pressure cooker, (b) unopened can submerged in simmering water in a pot, and (c) partially opened can partially submerged in simmering water in a pot or crockpot, and
3. using condensed milk out of the can: (a) in the oven where the milk is transferred to a baking dish in a bain marie, and (b) in the microwave.
I made mine in a different way, though. Why? Because (1) I have no desire to sit by the stove and stir for several hours, (2) I have this fear of exploding cookers or cans, (3) I have heard that cooking the milk still inside the can could result in a metallic taste [and hubby hates that], and (4) I wanted to infuse a vanilla bean pod in my concoction.
So, my way is by using my magic cooker - which is actually a thermal cooker that was a wedding gift a long, long time ago. It's a Japanese model, which claims to retain cooking heat for at least 8 hours! I really love that cooker as it cooks like magic (hence its "nickname") - with it we make soups, stews, meats, even rice. It's pretty much like a slow cooker but without using electricity or gas.
Anyway, here is what I did...
I emptied a can of condensed filled milk into a canning jar with approximately 350 ml capacity, leaving an "open" space on top.
(just a quick note here: I couldn't find sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket. What I found were condensed creamers, reconstituted condensed milk and sweetened condensed filled milk. I don't know if this is the same as sweetened condensed milk that is found in the U.S.A, so I just had to work with what was available.)
I cut a vanilla bean in half, sliced each half along its length and leaving the ends intact. I scraped the vanilla caviar and placed the caviar and the pods in the jar with the condensed milk. After giving it a quick stir, I covered the jar with its lid - securely BUT NOT TIGHTLY.
Then I placed the jar inside the inner pot of the magic cooker and filled the pot with water, up to just below the rim of the canning jar (I didn't want water to accidentally get into the jar). I placed the cover of the inner pot and "cooked" it until the water was boiling. I lowered the heat to a low-medium simmer and let it be like that for about 8 to 10 minutes. No stirring, just let the jar sit in the water.
Then I placed the inner pot into the outer chamber of the magic cooker set. It sat in there for about 3 hours. I reheated the inner pot to boiling again and simmered another 8 to 10 minutes, after which I returned the inner pot to the outer chamber and let it sit for another 4 hours.
Because the jar was REALLY HOT, I left it on the counter to cool overnight.
The next morning, I strained the dulce de leche to get out the pods and any lumps.
And then I placed the strained dulce de leche back into the jar... and sat there for several minutes just staring at my beautiful dulce de leche and smelling the wondrous fragrance!!!
(I just love the specks of vanilla caviar in the dulce de leche!)
Then I got a little bit (on my finger) and tasted it, after which I got a spoon and dug in. Then I decided to share a bit of it to a couple of friends... just to brag, really... (smiling)...
Then I remembered that I made a batch of "healthy" whole wheat banana muffins (with oats, oat bran and reduced sugar) but stuffed with "unhealthy" chocolate fudge. What the heck, but I poured on some dulce de leche and WOWOWIE!!!
Hubby just loved it!!!
As for me? I liked the dulce de leche topped banana muffin, too. But I have been eating the dulce de leche off a (table)spoon... like, every half hour or so...