Perhaps no single treat is more synonymous with Latin America than Dulce de Leche. If you’ve never had it, you are missing out! Luckily, it’s both easy to find and easy to make, and has a nearly infinite number of delicious ways to eat it.
What is dulce de leche? Essentially, it is caramelized milk. If you’ve had condensed milk, imagine something a little sweeter, thicker, and darker in color. The most common base recipe is milk, sugar, and vanilla, but a super simple way to make it is by punching a few holes in the top of a can of condensed milk dropping it into a saucepan, pouring water three quarters of the way up the can, and boiling it for three to four hours, or until brown. Different countries, regions and cultures have slight variations, and of course everyone who makes dulce de leche has their own little tricks!
Many theories exist as to who invented it. However, with this post we’re going to celebrate how it’s a shared cultural treasure across many countries by showcasing a different use for it in a few different places!
Argentina - Alfajor
To say that Argentina loves dulce de leche would be a huge understatement. However, the famous Alfajor, two crispy wafers stuffed with Dulce de Leche and then smothered in either chocolate or tangy meringue, takes the cake for us!
Uruguay - Alfajor
Yes, we know! Argentina is not the only country that loves Alfajores. Uruguay has an absolutely delicious version with softer, fluffier cookies sandwiching dulce de leche, all sprinkled with shaved coconut. Yum!
Peru - Suspiro de Limeña
How could we not choose something with such a poetic name! Literally meaning “the sigh of a woman from Lima,” this unique dessert consists of a layer of manjar blanco (the Peruvian version of dulce de leche) thickened with egg yokes topped by stiff port wine meringue, all served in a glass so you can see the beautiful layers!
Mexico - Churros con Cajeta
Cajeta is not a specific use of dulce de leche, per se. Instead, it’s a spread that is very similar that is usually made with goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. It generally has a darker color, and is often mixed with other flavors such as chocolate or cinnamon. Mexicans love to eat it by breaking off pieces of fresh Churros and dipping it in cajeta.
Chile - Milhojas
We had to include this one, because it’s Julio’s favorite dessert! The name means “a thousand leaves.” Layers of puff pastry and manjar (they also call it this in Chile) alternate over and over until a cake forms. The dessert is then often topped with chopped walnuts.
Brazil - Brigaderios
Imagine a small ball of dulce de leche about the size of a truffle, with a consistency more akin to fudge, rolled in chocolate sprinkles, then dropped into decorative gold foil. Now imagine how amazing that must taste!
Colombia - Arequipe Latte
Colombia called dulce de leche “arequipe,” and they use it in about as many different ways as possible. But the thought of a perfectly brewed cup of Colombian coffee mixed with steamed milk and drizzled with arequipe was too much to pass up for this piece!
We could keep going for pages! Dulche de leche, manjar, arequipe, cajeta, no matter what you call it, is a beautifully simple, delicious, and comfortingly rich treat that spans all of Latin America that we just love at Grand Cata!