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Can you believe that I made dulce de leche for the first time last week? I actually find it hard to believe myself, not only am I one of the world’s biggest fans of sweetened condensed milk but the sound of the words “dulce de leche” alone makes my mouth water. Apparently this delightful substance (which translates to “candy made from milk”) was invented as a way to preserve milk. One of mankind’s greatest ideas, I say.
I made the dulce de leche by baking the contents of a can of sweetened condensed milk in the oven until they turned light brown (following epicurious’ instructions). The resulting thick sauce looks a bit like caramel but tastes much better, the flavor is much more complex and the sweetness much less in-your-face. I filled the dulce de leche in between pumpkin spice Linzer cookies and overall the combination of all the flavors turned out so beautifully that I made the recipe again the next day. A delicious fall or holiday cookie.
- one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and set into a roasting pan.
- Bring a kettle of water to boil and pour the water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the pie plate.
- Bake until the milk has turned brown (1½ –2 hours). Check after about 45 minutes and refill the hot water if necessary.
- Let cool, then strain into a glass bowl.
- Whisk flour, salt and spice together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until well combined and creamy.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Beat in the dry ingredients.
- Bring the dough together into a ball by hand, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, then cut out the cookies.
- Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until they are lightly browned (12 – 15 minutes).
- Let the cookies cool.
- Sift powdered sugar onto the top cookies.
- Spoon a dollop of dulce de leche onto the bottom cookies and top with a cut-out center cookie.
Food Photography and Styling: My favorite part about these cookies was the beautifully light-brown color and creamy texture of the dulce de leche that was squeezing out of the center of all three cookies and I tried to mirror that color and creaminess in the coffee by stirring in a bit of cream. It took a bit of stirring and bubbling the coffee with my little eyedropper until I had the surface of the drink the way I wanted it and it looked inviting and fresh. The dulce de leche in the center of the cookie I had taken a bite out of periodically started to droop throughout the shoot and I had to use a small brush to “sculpt” it into a nice round button shape a few times. As usual I lit this photo with my strobe.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/9, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.