I stood firm in my conviction that chocolate would even improve dulce de leche—the superbly sweet, gooey, and creamy caramelized milk from Latin America, which is known in French as confiture de lait (“milk jam”). First, I had to find a way to replace the whole milk or sweetened condensed milk used in traditional recipes.
Cashew cream was a fail, but canned full-fat coconut milk worked beautifully after I added a tiny amount of the guar gum to stabilize the emulsion. Surprisingly, the coconut flavor—even with coconut sugar added—is just a whisper. I don’t recommend doubling the recipe; it is difficult to get the reduction just right.
Use a bittersweet chocolate to temper the sweetness of this sauce. (Although if you have tasted conventional dulce, you’ll notice that this one is far less cloying.) Be careful: Use a deep heavy saucepan and be very mindful that you are cooking a mixture that will bubble volcanically and could cause a terrible burn.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche
Makes About 1 1/4 Cups
- 1 can (13.5 to 14 ounces / 400 to 414 ml) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (do not use light)
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar / 80 grams coconut sugar (substitute 1/4 cup each organic whole cane sugar and organic granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml brown rice syrup or agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon guar gum
- 2 ounces / 58 grams dark chocolate (68 to 72%), finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml pure vanilla extract
- Combine the coconut milk, sugar, rice syrup, salt, and guar gum in a blender. Start blending on low and increase the speed to high. Blend for 1 minute until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (about 8 to 10 inches across x 3 inches deep / 20 to 25 cm across x 7.5 cm deep) and cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally just until the mixture begins to bubble.
- Raise the heat to high and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil furiously. Stir frequently for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat up or down as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
- Carefully pour the very hot liquid into a 2-cup / 500 ml heatproof spouted measuring cup. Wait for the bubbling to stop and note the amount. If the liquid measures 1 1/4 cups / 300 ml, or a little less, it can be finished. If not, cook longer until it has reduced further.
- Once the mixture has reduced, wait about 1 minute until steam is no longer visible, and then add the chocolate and the vanilla extract. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce into a clean jar. Use warm or at room temperature.
Spread the Dulce de Leche on bread or use it as a filling for layer cake. Heat until liquid and use it as a dip for pretzels, pieces of cake, or cookies—use your imagination—for this time of the year, dollop the Dulce in ice cream.
The sauce can be refrigerated covered for up to two weeks in the jar. It will thicken considerably in the refrigerator. If you want to thin it, warm the Dulce gently over low heat in a small saucepan to liquefy if desired.
I’d really love to know how you use Dulce de Leche. Eating it right off the spoon counts! I think I’ve got to make some now.
From Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis