I got onto the Dulce de Leche bandwagon a little late but I'm catching up for lost time. There are variations of how Dulce de Leche is made, here I’m focusing on the home style method where a can of condensed sweetened milk is boiled for a period of time until carmelization and the Maillard reaction has occurred in the can. The resulting life changing caramel is then stuffed into Snicker Doodle dough and rolled in a sugar/espresso mixture where upon hitting the oven it develops a candy crust. You have to try this recipe, aside from long cooking time of the Dulce de Leche you can whip this recipe up and have a tray of them cooking in the oven in under 15 minutes. You could always cheat and buy a commercially made bottle of Dulce de Leche if low on time. The classic Snicker Doodle is rolled in a cinnamon sugar mix that also tastes good with this recipe, but the espresso really ramps up the flavours. If you have little ones who may not be keen on the caffeine jolt, roll a couple in cinnamon sugar for them.
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Step 1: Ingredients
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup salted butter, yes SALTED
- Seeds from 1 split vanilla bean
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon of super finely ground espresso, plus more if needed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 can of prepared Dulce de Leche, recipe to follow
- Parchment paper or a silpad
- Cookie sheet
- Mixing bowls, whisk or electric beater and other kitchen stuff like an oven preheated to 400 degrees
Step 2: Dulce De Leche
So ideally you want to prepare this in your biggest tallest pot you have. That way you are minimizing having to get up, trudge all the way over to the kitchen, drawn some water "how tedious" and top your pot. I used an asparagus cooker, just a tall pot with a removable strainer. You don't really need the strainer, but I invert it and throw it over top of the can while its cooking. It gives a false sens of security that should I let the pot boil dry it will contain the sugary blast. Anyway, lets go over the procedure.
- Plunk your can in the bottom of the pot
- Fill with water till about 2 inches from the top
- Put it on the stove to boil - Maximum heat
- As soon as it begins to boil, drop the heat to about 3 or just above simmer - Basically almost as low as the temperature on your stove allows
- Find something to do for 14 hours! somewhere in the house. Check it every couple of hours just to be safe, if its getting low on water just top it up with hot water from the tap. I had to top up my pot once but this depends on the size of pot used.
Toss it in the fridge to use the next day, you should let it cool till its at least only warm feeling in your hand. In theory if you open it while its hot it could burst a little - but, I have never tested this and neither should you!
Step 3: Prep the Vanilla
- Take your vanilla bean and slice it down the middle. It is hollow, or rather stuffed with seeds. Try to only slice through the top layer, if you go through both its not big deal.
- Hold one end of the bean in your fingertips, and press the knife into the bean like in the pictures below. Your not wanting to cut the bean, just kinda splay it open with the knife edge.
- Now scrap the blade up the length of the bean, the pressure will cause the vanilla seeds to squeeze out and be collected on the knife in a pasty mass.
Step 4: Cream
- Plunk your softened butter in a large bowl and add your vanilla pulp.
- Beat with a whisk until it goes a couple shades lighter like lemony cream - see all the super tiny vanilla seeds peppering your butter
- Add 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and beat again for a couple minutes, it will get even creamier!
Step 5: Beat
- Add 1 egg to your creamed mixture and beat it in for a minute, stop when it no longer looks very glossy
- Add your other egg and do the same
Step 6: Dance Interlude!
Step 7: Mix
So here's what to do next
- Sift together flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. No sifter? Run the ingredients dry in a mixer or do the ultimate cheat, just grab a wire whisk and run it through the powders to lift and fluff the mix. It’s not the 1940’s anymore, lumpy flour isn’t so much of an issue these days.
- Add your dry ingredients to the moist ingredients and mix it all together by hand or with an electric mixer for a minute or two until well combined
Step 8: Roll
- Scoop up a ball full of dough a little smaller then a ping pong ball
- Cut it in half and make a depression in each half, or simple press your thumb into the ball making a hole. This is my preferred method
- Put a spoonful, about a heaping teaspoon into the hole, and close it up, roll it till its sealed in your hand.
- Set on your cookie sheet and roll them all up.
- If your going to leave them at this point make sure to cover them with a barely damp towel so they don't dry out. Otherwise your sugar won't stick in the next step
Step 9: Dip
- Add 1 tablespoon of super finely ground espresso to about 1/4 cup of sugar, this will give you a nice coffee scented coating that hits your nose before you even bite it.
- For insane coffee flavour, though its a bit bitter add a tablespoon of instant coffee to the sugar instead - I warn you though this is only for those who like intense 6 hour old coffee!
- For kids, just add a tablespoon of cinnamon to the sugar, or, skip the cinnamon and use sugar with some vanilla seeds added to it, the vanilla bean containers are usually packed 2 to a container anyway, so why not
- Other variations I have tried include adding lemon and or orange zest - quite interesting
- Lastly for those who like a slightly burnt sugar flavour, "its better then it sounds" Before rolling the snicker doodles in the sugar, dip it in water briefly. This will cause the cookie to pick up a larger amount of sugar crystals which will turn into a thick candy coating. Its quite good and works with any of the above mixes just you have to be vigilante abut leaving them in the oven for no more then 10 minutes.
Lay the balls on your parchment or silpad lined cookie sheet with about 2 inches between balls. I always put too many on the sheet, sigh, why do I never learn...
Step 10: Bake
- If your using the water dipped variation set your racks a little higher to minimize burning sugar.
Let them cool for 5 minutes to set, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool a bit.
Best served warm with copious quantities of milk
- You will probably have left over Dulce de Leche. Save it in the fridge for future cookies or smear it on buttery toast for a wake up call in the morning!