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Thursday, April 22, 2010

~Sweeter than Sweet!~ A cure for on-and-off spring gray-days

As much as I love spring with all its flowers, birds, insects, sunshine, and spring time civic events, there are parts I don't really like sometimes.  Don't get me wrong!  I love the rain and all the happy growing things it brings forth from the dirty brown winterscapes, but I can never be too enthused about the indecisive patterns.  I think the boring and grey outside is what inspired me to make something sweet and happy and VERY inside.  Inside a can that is:

~No-Muss, No-Fuss Dolce de Leche~

12-14 oz Can good quality Sweetened Condensed Milk
          (you can make as many as you like and store them for later)

Special Tools - 6" deep sauce or stock pot
                         Kitchen Tongs
                         Teapot (preferably with a fine neck)

Simplicity is best for this one.  Take your can and place it face up in your pot.  Fill the pot with enough water to cover the top of the can by at least 1".  More is better and better, in this case, is safer.  If you you let the water level drop too low, the can can leak and you'll have to start all over again.  Bring the water to a good simmer and set your timer for 2.5-3 hrs.  Even though the effort here is very minimal, you'll want to check the water level every 15 minutess or so.  If its getting too low, add some boiling water from your teapot.  You wont want to add cold water because it can stress the can and make for uneven heating/caramelization.  When you're done heating, let the water cool until you can dip your finger in without burning then place the can in cold water to cool.  Once its cool, the can can be opened right away or stored for as long as 6 months as the seal was never broken! 

NOTE - if you prefer a more liquidly sauce, you can boiled for 1-1.5 hrs

That is all you're going to need for this mid week recipe!  Its one of my personal favorite tricks not only for its ease and delicious results but because it lets me do THIS!


In this recipe, you're trying to oxidize sugars through pyrolysis (heat decomposition) taking a polysaccharide, in this case Sucrose, and reducing it to Fructose and Glucose.  Caramel is made of oxidized forms of those two.  What makes this different is that since you're going to cook the sugars in the milk inside the sealed can, the process is accelerated.  The water heats the can, creating kinetic energy which causes pressure to build, which in turn causes it to heat further.  All the molecules whizzing around and crashing into each other and the sides create a lot of pressure on the can but the kinetic energy of the boiling water creates pressure of its own, keeping the can's equilibrium intact.  As with an egg, if you tried to cook it without any water distributing the heat and pressing from the outside, the can would heat far to quickly, stress cracks would form and it might burst.  Fun with food.  Dolce de Leche in a blast cooker.  It's SCIENCE!


There you have it!  Dolce De Leche in a still sealed can!  Delicious and Conveniently storable!  Great on ice-cream, fruit, in coffee, truffle filling, cakes, flans, cheesecakes, cookies, pancakes... so many options.


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