As I wandered about my kitchen at 5.30pm this afternoon with my friend Yvette, who was picking up her son who'd come around the corner to my place because he'd forgotten his keys, and I was telling her that I was about to take Tilly to the doctor because she had a raging ear infection and a persistent temperature, I referred to the Dulce de Leche simmering on the stove and Yvette said, "Today? Why would you make that today, with a sick toddler?"
Yes, a very good question.
Because when things get blue, I cook.
Because Tilly conked out around lunchtime and I looked at the tin of condensed milk in my cupboard and thought, hello.
Because if I don't get seriously started on my list of 20 New Things it'll be one more thing I didn't do this year.
Because if I wasn't Inner Pickle, I'd have to be Curious Cook. Don't you just want to know what happens inside that can for three and a half hours?!?!
Here's how I started:
One tin of Nestle Condensed Milk, label taken off, in my biggest stock pot, covered with water.
David Lebovitz makes this by pouring the condensed milk into a baking dish, covering it and baking for an hour and a half.
LIVE ON THE EDGE, people.
Unless there's a real risk of boiling exploding cans, you're only half alive.
Chocolate Suze has made this and warned of not puncturing the can, which would have been my impulse, and as some sites suggest, as it's easy for water to get in and crystallize the caramel.
(She also very strongly recommended letting the can cool down before cracking open, to avoid scalding molten caramel geysering into your eye. Good advice.)
There's conflicting online advice about whether the water needs to be part-way up the can or totally and absolutely 100% covering the can at all times, don't doze off or go cuddle a sick kid because the can will EXPLODE if it is not covered with water even for a nanosecond.
You know, I like risk. But not of the it'll-take-me-three-hours-to-scrape-that-off-the-ceiling kind. So BIG stockpot, lots and lots of water. Three and a half hours and there we have it, folks:
Dulce de Leche.
Now what do I do with it? Eat it by the spoonful and fall into a sugar coma?
These alternatives look awesome:
* Smitten Kitchen's Dulce de Leche cheesecake squares
* David Lebovitz's Dulce de Leche brownies
* And how about Dulce de Leche ice cream with salted pecans?
You could put it in a tart or warm it and drizzle it over vanilla icecream.
I reckon at Christmas time I'll leave it on the stove another hour to make it firmer and roll it into chocolate coated balls.
SO good. Not so good for you. You don't come here for diet tips, right?