Monday, April 16, 2012

Rose and Cubeb Pepper Dulce de Leche

"Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it" is how I feel about dulce de leche.  I can't remember what inspired me to make it for the first time - I think a potluck for the Design Nerds.  I fussed and peered for several hours as the milk got darker and darker and thicker and thicker.  Finally, I took my first taste and it made my spine tingle.  Just thinking about it now makes my spine tingle.  The taste is not something to describe - just make some.

Dulce de leche means "candy of milk" and is similar to a caramel sauce, but infinitely better.


1 litre of whole milk
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/4 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Optional - rosewater (1-2 teaspoons) and cubeb pepper (7-8 peppers)

Dulce de leche is wonderful without any extra ingredients but lately I've been experimenting.

As I've mentioned in previous posts I have a background in aromatherapy so that influences the spices I choose.  A few months ago I became interested in cubeb pepper.  I like to make a spice blend and simmer it over the holidays to keep my home smelling nice and cubeb pepper was one of the spices from this previous Christmas.  It smells of clove and nutmeg and I've heard it's an aphrodisiac...

Rosewater is a common ingredient in middle eastern desserts.  I was first introduced to it when I ate baklava as a child.  A friend from my childhood was Iraqi and her mother had owned a bakery in Iraq.  For some reason her children didn't enjoy her cooking, but I adored it!  Those lovely little phyllo wrapped pastries scented with honey and rosewater.  So delicious.  Rose is an ultra-feminine and floral scent so a little goes a long way (it's also an aphrodisiac so this recipe should be quite potent).

Rosewater should pair beautifully with cubeb pepper in my dulce de leche.


1. Pour milk, white sugar, and vanilla bean (scrape the inside out and put that in as well) as well as any other flavouring agents into a saucepan and turn the heat on.

2. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the baking soda.


3. Cook the mixture down until there is about a cup left and it is a dark gold color. 

  • Pour the dulce de leche through a strainer to make it silky smooth.
  • I've never tried making dulce de leche with low fat or no-fat milk, but it might be okay.
  • I don't use as much sugar as Alton's recipe calls for and I find my version very sweet.  I've heard the traditional recipe is ultra sweet and that's just not to my taste so I decided to break with tradition.
  • Some people use a can of condensed milk in a pressure cooker.  This will be ultra sweet and the process kinda scares me.  I'd love to hear others experiences.
Dulce de leche is amazing!  Oh!  There goes my spine again...


Recipe from Alton Brown
Cubeb Peppers - one of my favorite companies
Quote by Stendahl


  1. The boil-the-can method is known in the US as "danger pudding". Your method looks a lot safer!

    1. That name does not surprise me. I've heard that cans explode if the water level gets too low...

  2. I had a friend who did the dangerous can thing. She told me it took a long time, so I wonder if folks got too impatient and turned up the heat way to high.

    What did you put the dulce de leche on?

    1. The "dangerous can method" is done in a pressure cooker from what I've heard so the whole thing just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Kinda like deep frying a turkey...

      I made a grown-up sundae with pistachio ice cream, a scoop of mascarpone cheese (homemade - the recipe is coming in a week or so), dulce de leche and chopped pistachios on top. Needless to say my girlfriend and I quite enjoyed it.

      I will also admit to putting it in my morning coffee. Do you ever use it? I know the hispanic population is larger in the States so it is more familiar as an ingredient.