Ganesh Chaturthi Prasadam – Dulce De Leche, Made In A Pressure Cooker

Dulce De Leche, pronounced ‘dool-say day lay-chay’, is Spanish for ‘milk candy’. It is a confection made, largely, out of just two ingredients: milk and sugar. More simply put, it is nothing but cooked sweetened milk. It involves the cooking of milk that has been sweetened, till it thickens and changes colour and acquires a caramel-like taste. This gooey but delicious sweet can be had by itself, as a dessert, or can be used in making several other desserts like cupcakes and brownies.

Quite popular in Europe and many other parts of the Western world, the origins of dulce de leche are unclear. One legend says that it was the maid at the home of one Juan Manuel de Rosas who accidentally discovered dulce de leche, in the 19th century. Apparently, she was making le lechada – a drink made using milk and sugar – for her Argentinian master and his family. There was a knock at the door, she went to answer it, forgetting all about the milk and sugar cooking on the stove. When she returned to the kitchen, she found that the milk and sugar had cooked to a brown, jam-like substance, which later came to be called ‘Dulce de Leche’. Interesting, right? Another legend credits a cook in Napoleon’s army with the discovery of this sweet dish. Some time in the 14th century, this cook was making sweetened milk for breakfast for the general’s troops, forgot all about it, and ended up with a gooey confection that came to be known as ‘Dulce de Leche’. Whatever be its origin, there is no doubt about the fact that dulce de leche is immensely flavourful. šŸ™‚

There are as many different methods to make dulce de leche as there legends about its origin. Some recipes call for simmering milk and sugar on a stovetop till it thickens and changes colour. Some others call for the addition of vanilla and other flavour-enhancers. Some people make it with condensed milk – cooking an unopened can of condensed milk, submerged in water, in a pan for a certain length of time. There is a faster and easier method too, one that involves cooking an unopened can of condensed milk in a pressure cooker, after submerging it in loads of water.

Information Courtesy: Here and here

I have been reading up on the making of sweet dishes using Milkmaid, and that is how I came to know about dulce de leche. I was hesitant to try it out because I was not sure I would like the taste, considering I am not a big fan of caramel. Also, the pressure cooker method sounded too dangerous to try at home, and I do not have the patience that is needed for the other versions of dulce de leche. Yesterday, though, on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, something sparked inside me and I decided to give the making of the dish a try – I guess I had found dulce de leche interesting-sounding and it had been in the back of my mind all along, just waiting for the right moment to wiggle itself into action. šŸ™‚ I used the pressure cooker method with a lot of caution (‘You did WHAT?!, asked the OH in surprise when I told him I was pressure cooking a can of condensed milk that had not been opened at all). The tin cooked and cooled to the tune of constant admonitions by the OH to ‘Be very, very careful, okay?’.

I opened the tin, and discovered a world of flavour, a sinfully rich and delicious concoction which I admonished myself on not trying out earlier. I am sure Ganesha would have been happy with the scoop of dulce de leche that I offered up to Him as naivedhyam, before tasting it. šŸ™‚

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The inauguration of the Milkmaid-turned-dulce de leche

I used this recipe to make the dulce de leche, and made no changes of my own. I reproduce the recipe here because I want to jot down notes on how I went about making it.

Ingredients:

1 400-gram can of sweetened condensed milk (I used Nestle)

Method:

  1. Fill a 5-liter pressure cooker halfway through with water.
  2. Submerge the can of condensed milk in the water, unopened.
  3. Put the pressure cooker on the gas, on a high flame. Once the water starts boiling, close the cooker lid and turn the flame to medium. Put the cooker whistle on.
  4. Allow one whistle on medium flame. Then, turn the flame to low.
  5. Keeping the cooker whistle on, let the can cook on low flame for about 20 minutes. The more you cook the condensed milk, the thicker and more caramel-ly will be the end result that you will get. 20 minutes of cooking gave me the perfect dulce de leche and I am so not going to vary this in future attempts! Do keep checking on the cooker to ensure that you hear the sound of the water rushing inside – the drying out of the water completely could be dangerous.
  6. After 20 minutes switch off the gas. Let the pressure come down entirely.
  7. Open the pressure cooker and take out the can of condensed milk. Wait till it cools down completely, to open it. Do not attempt to open the can before it has cooled down – it could prove to be dangerous.
  8. Dig in and eat your fill straight out of the can. If you do not plan on using the dulce de leche immediately, refrigerate it in an air-tight jar. This will increase its shelf life. Post refrigeration, whenever you want to use the dulce de leche, leave it at room temperature for about an hour, which will make it softer.
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The dulce de leche, after being refrigerated for a couple of hours

Tempting?

Why don’t you try making it at home, too?

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6 thoughts on “Ganesh Chaturthi Prasadam – Dulce De Leche, Made In A Pressure Cooker

  1. I have been intrigued by the name Dulce De Leche too and had been planning on making it since long. As the husband hates anything milk related, I have never given this a try. Apparently, there are some good cakes that you can make with this šŸ™‚ I am sure Ganesha would have loved this neivedhyam to bits šŸ™‚

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  2. Oops I’m sorry! šŸ™‚ that wasn’t the intention. But I should tell you. I read an article once about how tin cans are kept in storage for a really long time. Some organization ran tests and found residue of rat waste on the lids. Ever since then I’ve been totally freaked and I always empty canned stuff into a vessel at home. I go one step further and wipe the can with a wet cloth before emptying!

    I totally understand the sentiment about packaged food but every once in a while, the convenience is just too tempting! šŸ˜Š

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    1. @Perspectivesandprejudices

      No issues! šŸ™‚

      I totally understand what you mean. The problem that you mentioned happens due to unhygienic storage of cans, and not at the manufacturing level. If the tins are not stored within the specified temperature range or in dirty surroundings, the problems you state might occur.

      I am like you, too – I wipe off the tops of cans with a clean cloth before using them. I rarely buy packaged food or ready-to-cook stuff, though. I only buy tins when I need them to cook something else – like pineapple rings or condensed milk – and these ingredients are not available in other forms. Off and on, I do resort to buying packaged food in other forms, though – snacks, mainly. The convenience of packaged food every once in a while is, indeed, tempting. šŸ™‚ I am always on the lookout for healthier, chemical-free alternatives, though – things I can be at least 90% sure of. I am gradually working on doing away with processed and packaged food entirely from our lives. Tall goal, but I am trying. With a child in tow, this becomes very difficult, but I want to make the effort at least.

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    1. @Perspectivesandprejudices

      I never thought so too, until I read about dulce de leche cooked in a pressure cooker. šŸ™‚

      Honestly, I never gave a thought to chemicals entering the tin or leaching into the water in the pressure cooker. It never struck me, I don’t know why. šŸ˜¦ That said, I didn’t see any colours running into the water from the tin, nor any discoloration from the tin in the food. These tins have to be of good quality, right, to ensure that the food doesn’t get contaminated even when exposed to rainfall or harsh weather conditions? That said, packaged food is packaged food is packaged food. I do have some now and then for the sake of novelty, but then always end up feeling guilty about it. Now, you are making me feel guilty. šŸ˜¦

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