Tag Archives: Pretzels

Decadent Caramel Sauce: Slow-Cooked Dulce de Leche

Ah, dulce de leche – this caramel sauce is delightfully decadent and can be made at home from a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Loosely translated, it means milk jam, and is traditionally used in South American desserts.  Cooked slowly over a long period of time, the condensed milk becomes a thick caramelized sauce for an unforgettable sweet treat that can be enjoyed in many different ways.  I thought it would be perfect with ice cream and made a simple vanilla sundae with dulce de leche, chopped pretzels and topped it with a cherry (I had some leftover from my cocktail post).  The sauce has a caramel, butterscotch flavor and the pretzels add a fun, unusual salty flavor in contrast to the sweet vanilla ice cream –it’s a different twist on the classic sundae.

Most of the dulce de leche recipes that I have seen call for boiling or baking an unopened can of condensed milk in water for 3 to 4 hours; this method can be dangerous if not attended to properly, resulting in an exploded can.  That alone, not to mention the time requirement, made me shy away from the process.  Thankfully I found references online that described a bain marie (water bath) and microwave method, both much safer and quicker than the boiling-in-the-can method.  I used the bain marie process, which took an hour and a half and was relatively easy to do.  I haven’t tried the microwave method yet and will probably opt for that next time.  The microwave directions call for just 30 minutes total cooking time, with stirring every few minutes.  You want the end result to be a light caramel color that is just thick enough to pour.  It makes about 1 cup of sauce and will store in the refrigerator (in a sealed container) for about 4 weeks, although I doubt it will last that long before it is eaten up!

For a healthier option, I sliced some honeycrisp apples – they have a crisp, firm texture with lots sweet juicy flavor – drizzled a bit of the sauce on them and added some Marcona almonds for a nice crunch.   The dulce de leche is also a star ingredient for the toffee in the English Banoffee pie, a mouth-watering dessert I recently saw recreated on Chuck’s Day Off (he is my new TV/DVR indulgence).   The options for dulce de leche are endless, even by the spoonful – sinfully delicious! 

Eat well and share the love!

Dulce de Leche
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies

Ingredients:
One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:
Bain Marie/Water Bath Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 

Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a glass or ceramic pie plate, or small baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place in a roasting pan or large pyrex baking dish and fill with hot water until it reaches halfway up the pie plate/baking dish.

Bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until sauce is caramel colored and thick enough to pour.  Check the water level during cooking and add more as necessary.  Remove from the oven and take the dish out of the roasting pan/water; stir or whisk well and let the dulce de leche cool.

Store the dulce de leche in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.  To serve, gently warm in the microwave or a water bath.

Microwave Method:
Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a 2 quart glass measuring cup.  Cook on medium power (50%) for 2 minutes, stir well and repeat.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes on medium-low power (30%) until caramel colored and thick enough to pour, stirring well every 4 minutes and then every 2 minutes during the last 5 or 6 minutes.

Let cool; store the dulce de leche in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.  To serve, gently warm in the microwave or a water bath.

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Baseball Happy Hour: Pretzels & Hot Dogs

Today is opening day for baseball in Colorado!  The official opening day was yesterday but the Colorado Rockies are on the roster this afternoon, playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.  With our weather expected to be in the mid 70’s (unusual for us this time of year) it should be a perfect day for baseball, and eating.  As usual, it’s all about the food for me!  When I think of baseball food, I think of pretzels, hot dogs and of course, beer (not a food, but necessary to wash the goodness down).  Thankfully, another Friday has rolled around so it’s time for a celebration with Happy Hour!  On my Happy Hour table: fresh, soft pretzels and pretzel dogs with a pale ale beer (slightly sweet, hoppy) along with some whole grain and yellow mustard.  Yum!  I can hear the bats cracking against the baseballs now…..

For the pretzel dough, I consulted a recipe from one of my favorite science chefs, Alton Brown (click on “pretzel dough” for recipe).  His recipes are always fool-proof for me and I wasn’t disappointed with this one.  This was my first try at making pretzels and they are a keeper.  I reduced the recipe by half for 4 delicious pretzels.  You have to try them fresh out of the oven, nothing like it!  For the pretzel dogs, I used all beef hot dogs and dough from one pretzel.  Wrap a thin ribbon of dough around each hot dog piece and follow the directions for cooking the pretzels; it worked perfectly.  Note the recipe calls for ingredients in weights which don’t always transfer exactly to cup measurements, 11 oz. of flour measures about 2 1/8 cups.

As for the image on the left, I couldn’t resist using the parchment paper from the cooked pretzels to write my motto!  Cheers to you….Let’s play ball!

 

For a perspective from a serious baseball enthusiast, check out Ronni’s blog: http://garlicfriesandbaseball.wordpress.com