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Dulce de leche (Spanish: [ˈdulθe ðe ˈletʃe]; Portuguese: doce de leite IPA: [ˈdosi dʒi ˈlejtʃi]) is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a substance that derives its flavor from the Maillard reaction, also changing color, with an appearance and flavor similar to caramel.[1] Dulce de leche is Spanish for "candy [made] of milk" or "caramel".[2] It is very popular in many South American countries.

Dulce de leche (Doce de leite)
A jar of dulce de leche
Alternative namesManjar, manjar blanco, arequipe
Main ingredientsMilk, sugar
VariationsCajeta, arequipe
Food energy
(per serving)
320 kcal (1340 kJ)


Regional variantsEdit

The dulce de leche of El Salvador has a soft, crumbly texture, with an almost crystallized form. Central Mexico had versions as manjar (vanilla flavored) or cajeta, which is made from goat's milk, while in the North of the country the "dulce de leche" from cow's milk is more common. In Cuba, dulce de leche is made from soured milk that's curdled and then sweetened, called cortada. In the Dominican Republic, it is made with equal parts milk and sugar cooked over an open flame and stirred continuously for many hours. The texture of the end product is similar to that of fudge. The Dominican 'dulce de leche' is considered 'milk fudge' that is ivory white in color and is consumed in small bite size squares. One popular variation of this irresistible treat is dulce de leche con guyaba (guava preserve). In Puerto Rico, dulce de leche is sometimes made with unsweetened coconut milk. In Colombia and Venezuela, it is called arequipe, along with some regional variants, such as manjar blanco, which has higher content of milk. In Chile, it is called manjar.

In Panama, the top is crystallized.

A French version, known as confiture de lait (literally "confection of milk"), is very similar to the spreadable forms of dulce de leche. In Haiti, it is known as "douce lait".

Sugared condensed milk boiled for several hours to become homemade dulce de leche

The Norwegian HaPå spread is a commercial variant that is thicker and less sweet. The name is an abbreviation of "Hamar" where it originally was made and "Pålegg" (spread). "Ha på" literally means "put on" as a reference to putting it on a slice of bread. HaPå originated during the Second World War when, due to the scarcity of supplies, housewives would boil Viking-melk (a type of condensed milk) to a very similar type of spread. After the war the production was commercialized and continues to this day.

In Russia and Ukraine, the same preparation, traditionally made by boiling cans of condensed milk in water bath for several hours is known as "boiled condensed milk" ("варёная сгущёнка" in Russian, "варене згущене молоко", "іриска" in Ukrainian) as long as condensed milk is known there, and was (and still is) a mainstay of home confectioners and sweet fillings. In Soviet times there was some commercial production, but at a scale insufficient to meet a demand, so most households returned to traditional at-home preparation. Since the fall of the USSR the spread (though often imitated by various starch-based concoctions) exploded in popularity and is widely commercially produced both in can form and as an ingredient and default filling in various sweets.

A Polish version, called kajmak, is known from the 18th century (it was inspired by kaymak) and it is used to cover some cakes, like mazurek or wafer.

South Africans call it "caramel treat". In South Africa, it is served as fudge, or used as an ingredient in baked confectioneries, cakes and tarts.

Preparation and usesEdit

The most basic recipe calls for slowly simmering milk and sugar, stirring almost constantly, although other ingredients such as vanilla may be added for flavour. Much of the water in the milk evaporates and the mix thickens; the resulting dulce de leche is usually about a sixth of the volume of the milk used. The transformation that occurs in preparation is caused by a combination of two common browning reactions called caramelization and the Maillard reaction.[3]

Muffins with dulce de leche sauce

A homemade form of dulce de leche is sometimes made by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours (or 30 to 45 minutes in a pressure cooker), particularly by those living in countries where it cannot be bought ready-made. This results in a product that is much sweeter than the slow-boiled kind. It is dangerous to do this on a stove: if the pot is allowed to boil dry, the can will overheat and explode.[4]

Dulce de leche is used to flavour candies or other sweet foods, such as cakes, churros, cookies (see alfajor), waffles, crème caramel (known as flan in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions), and ice creams; it provides the "toffee" part of English Banoffee pie and is also a popular spread on pancakes and toast, while the French confiture de lait is commonly served with fromage blanc.

A solid candy made from dulce de leche, similar to the Polish krówka and named Vaquita ("little cow"), was manufactured by the Mu-Mu factory in Argentina until the company went out of business in 1984. Subsequently, other brands began to manufacture similar candies, giving them names such as "Vauquita" and "Vaquerita" in an effort to link their products to the original.

In the Midwestern United States in the 1950s a version of dulce de leche called sticky dessert used Carnation sweetened condensed milk.

In Israel and the United States and several other countries it is often used as a filling for the traditional ball shaped doughnuts popular around the Jewish holiday of Hannukah.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Origen mítico del dulce de leche". (in Spanish). Clarín. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  2. ^ Ducrot, Víctor Ego (6 de abril de 2003). «Origen mítico del dulce de leche» (HTM). Consultado el 2 de junio de 2014.
  3. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner. p. 657. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  4. ^ Kijac, Maria Baez (2003). The South American Table: The Flavour and Soul of Authentic Home Cooking from Patagonia to Rio de Janeiro, with 450 Recipes. Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press. p. 391. ISBN 1-55832-249-3. Retrieved August 8, 2012.

External linksEdit