Do you have a signature dish? Something people ask you to make? 

I wish my signature dish was an awesome Boeuf Bourguignon, or breathtaking hand rolled sushi or a specially delicate lemon tart. Nope. I'm pretty sure this is my signature:



Now, before we get into Dulce de Leche, I HAD to talk about caramel. This is one of those things I shudder to think of how many batches I've made in my young life. SOOO many. I haven't made it for ages, I obviously wouldn't let the kids eat it and Adam just doesn't really eat sweet stuff. (Leave the olives out and it's all over, though.) 

I bought a tin of condensed milk to try Dulce de leche, I had it in my hand today and thought, have to make caramel first.

A neighbour of ours when I was eight years old, Mrs Deasey, used to bring little foil pans of this to us, two doors down, as a treat. I'm not even sure we ever wrote the recipe down. I remember learning it very very young, and it's still in my head.

I remember making it at college, in the college kitchens late at night, and a bunch of us would sit around and not even let it cool.

I've made it thinner to pour over icecream and pour in tart cases but it's best left unadulterated. 



3oz (about 95g) unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tin condensed milk


Start the butter melting in a heavy based saucepan on the stove then add the other ingredients and start stirring. Don't make this if you're likely to get interrupted, you can't stop stirring for a 2 year old bathroom emergency or 5 year old battery replacement drama. It'll burn in a breath.

So stir stir stir, the butter will melt and the sugar dissolve and it'll be a pale camel colour. Be very careful not to let it get too hot, use a moderate heat on the stove, if you can see it starting to burn pull it off and stir stir stir!! Basically you stir it fast for 6-8 minutes on a moderate heat until it turns a deep golden colour. It'll get quite thick, too.

When it looks like this (below) pour it onto a greased and lined plate and let cool for a minute before putting in fridge.


Mine's a tad speckled because I let it get too hot and and I got a couple of burnt bits! oops.

Chop it up with a sharp knife once cooled and hard, put it in a container and take it to work for the fellas to eat. I seriously don't need it in my fridge!! It's like the inside of a cobber. SO yummy. 

What about you? What's your signature?


9 Comments on “Signature

August 31, 2009 at 4:42 pm

“put it in a container and take it to work for the fellas to eat.”
YES Please!

my sig dish is VEG LASAGNE.
1.some oil
an onion
some canned chopped tomatoe
bring to boil then simmer.
2. sliced eggplant
sliced zucchini
pan fried in some soil till brown
3. some english spinach, washed.
4. in a casserole dish:
lasagne sheet
eggplant / zucchini
repeat till full
cook on 250/max for 15 min or brown on top.
serve with salad.


August 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm

how do i edit my above post?

i meant “oil” not “soil”, of course…

i have a dirty mind sometimes…

August 31, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Ben that lasagne sounds FAB and will try the soil-less version pronto. Will come bearing caramel tomorrow but take no responsibility whatsoever for workplace hypoglycemia comas. xxx

Alex N
August 31, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I’d probably call this fudge, rather than caramel, but I think that’s an English-ism!! Looks utterly delicious, and I make something similar with Baileys and chopped apricots for Christmas presents. Yum. Will have to think about my signature dish….

Suzie B
August 31, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Alex, please… I want to hear about the Bailey’s version! details please 🙂

August 31, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I cannot believe you are telling me all about the caramel. Plus a picture? And me being so far (and SO unable to buy condensed milk and brown sugar). Ah, the agony! Guess then I’ll have to tell you that I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out the secret to Baddie’s chai. No, I’m not telling you. Secret revealed when caramel delivered. Really, you think that’s not fair? Bite me…well, go and bite your caramel. That’ll keep you going for a while. xo

Alex N
September 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Suzie, just for you (Fi, if you want healthy food, just skip past this recipe!):

450g granulated sugar
300ml double cream
25g unsalted butter
75g chopped dried apricots
4 tabsp Bailey’s

Put sugar, cream and butter into heavy bottomed pan, heat gently until sugar disolves.

Allow to boil steadily, stirring occasionally until it reaches 116C/240F. Check with sugar thermometer or drop a bit into bowl of iced water, if it ‘balls’ it’s ready!

Remove from heat and stir in Bailey’s and apriots. Beat until it thickens (about 15mins, says the recipe but I don’t remember it taking quite that long!)

Pour into greased tin and leave to cool and set.

Cuts into approx 36 squares

Keep in fridge and eat within 2 weeks (if you can wait that long!)

Darren (Green Change)
August 29, 2011 at 11:26 am

I know I’m going back in time a bit, but I only just came across this post!

I make a caramel tart filling just by putting an unopened tin of sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan of boiling water. Let it simmer for an hour. Remove, VERY carefully open it (it will spurt because of the heat pressure – use a teatowel or something to contain it) and remove the lid, and pour it into a baked pie crust. Put it in the fridge to set.

Man, so easy, and soooo yummy!

Penny Hannah
April 17, 2012 at 3:31 am

This is for Naomi [from Rhonda Hetzel’s ‘Down to Earth’ blog – the first thing I read every morning in Scotland, as it’s a breath of home].
Homemade Condensed Milk.
1 cup powdered milk, full cream naturally
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons soft butter
Put all the ingredients in a small processor and whizz until the sugar dissolves. Easy peasy


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