If you have been hesitating to buy a slow cooker and wanted a really great reason to push you over the fence, here it is! Food writer Victoria Abbot Riccardi described Dulce de Leche, a Latin American confection, in the Boston Globe: "Like toffee, butterscotch, and honey all rolled into one, this thick tawny ambrosia consists of whole milk, sugar, and vanilla slowly cooked into a sticky jam." Well, Victoria, I couldn't have possibly said it any better myself. As soon as I read that, I was hooked. When I read Victoria's directions, which cautioned that the mixture had to be stirred and carefully watched to avoid burning, I realized this would be perfect for the slow cooker—and it is! As the milk and sugar slowly caramelize, the kitchen—and soon your entire home—fills with the intoxicating aroma of something seriously good to eat.
Although you can eat the cooled mixture right out of the insert, I suggest you pour it over ice cream, fruit, or cake, or mix it into coffee. Or try Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream or Ice Cream or Marbled Cheesecake with Dulce de Leche (see the book)—three amazing desserts.
Yield: about 2 cups
Cooking Time: about 10 hours on HIGH
Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 cups whole milk
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
Large pinch baking soda
Place the vanilla bean, 3 cups of the milk, the sugar, water, and baking soda in the insert of the slow cooker, and whisk them together. Cook for 9 hours on HIGH, uncovered, then remove the vanilla bean and whisk the milk mixture gently. Use a dull-edged butter knife to carefully scrape down the crust of sugar that accumulates on the sides of the insert. Do not skim the foam off the top of the mixture.
Continue cooking for 1 more hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until it is a rich medium-caramel color and has thickened to the consistency of melted ice cream. In the meantime, warm the remaining 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan. Turn off the slow cooker, and stir in the warm milk. (This will prevent the dulce de leche from hardening while refrigerated.) Carefully remove the insert. Allow the mixture to coot for 10 minutes, then spoon and scrape it into a small metal bowl. Cover and cool to room temperature. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cools. Refrigerate it in a tightly covered container for up to 3 months.
Slow Cooker Cooking
By Lora Brody
Morrow Cookbooks/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
William Morrow; February 2001
Hardcover $25.00, 224 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created April 2001
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