This is essentially my Singaporean riff on dulce de leche. It’s something I created to pair with a Singapore breakfast themed Kit Kat-inspired dessert. And when Aun tasted it for the first time, he gave it the unequivocal thumbs up.
This Asian milk caramel has a deep, underlying umaminess to its sweetness, and can be used in both sweet and savoury applications. I’ve tossed activated hazelnuts in it and dehydrated the mixture to make candied hazelnuts. It’s also a handy secret ingredient in salad dressings and marinades (especially since it’s really quite liquid and not exactly of a spreadable consistency). Imagine it paired with a powerful fish sauce, chopped coriander, garlic, freshly squeezed calamansi juice and a smattering of chili padi, for example.
You can drizzle it over kaya ice cream like we did in the office, or over lightly salted popcorn (I’d throw in some homemade furikake myself. There are heaps of recipes over at Just Bento). Have it with buttermilk pancakes, yoghurt and granola, waffles (better yet, waffles with kaya ice cream), or banana cake with Pichet Ong’s sweet and salty condensed milk Chantilly cream. It’s also lovely just over some plain old popcorn, as one of my eating buddies Jia En did below. (The picture above, taken by Aun, was of the caramel on my locally-inspired KitKat dessert, but more on that in a future post).
This recipe is essentially a straight up condensed milk caramel with dark soy sauce added to it. So, you can choose to omit the dark soy if you wish to make classic dulce de leche/confiture de lait/condensed milk jam. The original is the stuff of childhood indulgences—a charming crowd pleaser that glams up everything from toast to cake (Sam Chui @samezra enjoyed it over the delish salted crumble stuffed into rose apples topped with ice cream as pictured below). And I’m dying to taste it in these alfajores cookies.
However, I’ve avoided trying to make my own condensed milk caramel for ages because the idea of boiling a can of condensed milk, or heating it in a bain marie, totally freaks me out. I’d considered attempting this recipe, which calls for baking sweetened condensed milk in a deep dish set in a water bath, and still will when I have the time. But it takes over 2 1/2 hours and gives me no control over the amount and type of sugar used. Similarly, this stove top alternative utilizing fresh milk is on my list of recipes to test. However, I’d have to stand at my stove for over three hours to make it.
I’m sorry, but I’ve sworn off attempting to live the Martha Stewart fantasy where I personally make everything from scratch in the most traditional way. I just can’t. Not with the many other demands of life that I currently have to fulfill. But if you happen to find the opportunity to try the two recipes mentioned above out, do please let me know how they turned out. In the end, I opted for an incredibly simple Thermomix recipe which allows me to do a whole lot more while the machine cooks and stirs the caramel for me. It is remarkably easy. If you prefer your dulce de leche thicker, just continue cooking it for a little longer.
Condensed Milk & Soy Sauce Caramel
1 litre whole milk
200ml whipping cream
4 tbs dark soy sauce (I used Kwong Cheong Thye as it’s easily available at supermarkets)
130g castor sugar
120g brown sugar (or grated gula Melaka)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Combine all the ingredients in your Thermomix canister. Set the basket insert over the lid to allow moisture to evaporate.
Setting: 50min, temperature Varoma, speed 5.
When completed, pour into clean jars and leave it to cool before refrigerating. That’s it!
To make a classic condensed milk caramel or dulce de leche, omit the soy sauce. I’d add sea salt to taste. But that’s my personal preference.
This recipe doesn’t hold up to being halved. I ended up with a super thick caramel that was impossible to scoop or spread.