There’s something immensely satisfying about making your own dulce de leche. Unlike a cake where everything happens in the oven, this is a recipe where the transformation takes place in front of your eyes and under your spatula.
Over the weekend I had some fun experimenting with tea: tea infused butter, tea leaves ground into dough and this, tea-infused dulce de leche. As someone who doesn’t really drink tea, but loves the taste, this is a wonderful way to experience its flavours.
Stove top dulce de leche is a completely therapeutic – a good forty minutes or more are spent at the stove, slowly stirring, as milk and sugar evaporate to become something rich, thick and glossy, the colour of coffee and resistant to a spoon. Infusing the milk with tea at the beginning means you have to watch the colour a little more closely – the mixture goes brown before it’s actually caramelized – but the process couldn’t be easier, or the results more delicious.
I used my tea-infused dulce de leche to make millionaire’s shortbread, the slight bitterness of Earl Grey working beautifully against the sugar sweetness of the caramel. Tea and biscuit deliciousness, all in one mouthful.
- 1.5 litres milk, goat or cow
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp Earl Grey tea leaves
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate soda
- large pinch flaky sea salt
- In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the tea leaves, stir and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the milk then return to the pan.
- Add the sugar, golden syrup, vanilla pod and seeds, bicarbonate of soda and salt and bring to the boil. The milk will froth up as it boils, especially if you’re using goat’s milk, so stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.
- Reduce the heat slightly to a brisk simmer/low boil. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and turns a deeper brown (remembering that the tea will make it look more caramelized than it is). If your mixture is catching on the bottom, you may need to reduce the heat slightly, so this process can take anything between 20 – 30 minutes.
- Once the mixture has started to thicken, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook until the mixture has the consistency of thick caramel sauce with a rich coffee colour, 15 – 20 minutes. Stir regularly at this stage to prevent any bits catching on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the pan from the heat, fish out the vanilla pod using your utensil (remember, the caramel will be very hot), then pour into a large clean jar. Leave to cool completely at room temperature, then use immediately or screw a lid on the jar and store in the fridge for up to one month.
- The caramel will set fairly firm in the fridge. You can rewarm it in the microwave or in small saucepan over a gentle heat. If it’s too thick to pour, add water or milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the sauce has the consistency that you want.