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Dulce de Leche

November 18, 2019 | About Us

What is Dulce de Leche?

Now that it’s cold, rainy and dark almost all the time, and with the festive season approaching, we tend to develop an even sweeter tooth. For South Americans, and especially Argentinians, the word ‘sweet’ is inevitably linked to dulce de leche. So, in today’s post, we’re telling you all about it, Chester.

But what is dulce de leche exactly? Well, it is commonly said that it is similar to caramel. The truth is, it differs both in the ingredients used and the method of cooking. Dulce de leche is the result of very slowly cooking milk and sugar. It may sound simple, but there’s a trick. It actually requires lots of attention and time to achieve the perfect dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche. Image by Cookies & Cups

Dulce de Leche. Image by Cookies & Cups


As it usually happens with nations’ favourites, the origin of this sweet confection seems a little bit blurred. However, the story that has stuck as the official tells us that dulce de leche was discovered accidentally. Apparently, the maid of Manuel de la Rosa (an Argentinian politician from the 1800s), was cooking milk and sugar when she got called and got distracted. On her return, she found the famous brown sweet goo that turned out to be deliciously addictive.

The first recorded reference dates back to 1829. In a peace meeting of Manuel de la Rosa with his enemy and politician Juan Lavalle, Rosa’s maid confessed her cooking mistake, assuming this would be a problem. However, when he tried it, he loved it so much he shared it with Lavalle.

Dulce de Leche. Image by Cookies & Cups

Dulce de Leche. Image by Cookies & Cups

A Versatile Ingredient

If you ask any Argentinian, they’ll say their favourite way to eat it is to spoon it directly out of the jar. The reality is, this is such a versatile concoction it is often used as an ingredient in many sweet recipes. You will find it in cakes and pastries, spread on toast, cookies, and pancakes and almost anything else you can imagine. In Argentina, they’re a key ingredient in Alfajores; in Brazil, they are the star in the famous Brigadeiros.

Brigadeiros are small balls of dulce de leche, coated in a layer of indulgent chocolate and chocolate sprinkles. Here at Picanha, you can find Chocolate Brigadeiros as part of our Brazilian Sweet Treats in our Dessert Menu.

Alfajores with Dulde de Leche. Image by Pretty.Simple.Sweet

Alfajores with Dulce de Leche. Image by Pretty.Simple.Sweet

Making Authentic Homemade Dulce de Leche

Although dulce de leche is easy to make, the way to make it varies slightly from country to country. On top of that, there’s the traditional way to do it, and the fast way to do it using condensed milk. Here at Picanha, of course, we make it the traditional Argentinian style. We add in some vanilla for an extra touch, and baking soda to aid the Maillard reaction.

Dulce de Leche Recipe:

  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract


Add the milk and the sugar to a deep saucepan and bring it to boil. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved, and once it’s boiled, lower the temperature and add the other ingredients. Stir regularly until it becomes a rich brown colour and achieves a smooth texture. This can take between two and four hours. But we promise that, as it happens with all good things, the wait is absolutely worth it.

Homemade Dulce de Leche. Image by Sweet & Savoury

Homemade Dulce de Leche. Image by Sweet & Savoury

Dulce de Leche Coulant at Picanha

Luckily, we can enjoy this heavenly confection in the form of a mouth-watering dessert here at Picanha. Our coulant is a dulce de leche cake with a warm and indulgent centre, topped with Madagascan Vanilla ice-cream. Only looking at this image below makes us want to run to the restaurant to have a spoonful of that melting bit!

Our Dulce de Leche Coulant

Our Dulce de Leche Coulant

Have you ever tried this sweet creation before, Chester? Let us know what you think or if you give this recipe a go via our social media channel on Instagram and Facebook.