Pronunciation: [DOOL-say day LAY-chay]
Dulce de leche is a caramellike mixture popular in Mexico, Central America and South America. Dulce de leche is known by various names such as arequipe in Columbia and Venezuela, cajeta in Mexico and manjar or in Chile and Peru. The Portuguese version is doce de leite. In Spanish, dulce de leche literally translates to "sweet of milk," and more loosely as "milk candy." It's a simple preparation of sugar cooked with goat's and/or cow's milk for hours over low heat until the mixture becomes very thick and deep golden in color. Sometimes it's made by simply cooking sweetened condensed milk to that state. The consistency of this intensely sweet mixture can vary from easily spreadable, to that of a thick, dense frosting, to firm and candylike. In Argentina, where dulce de leche is extremely popular, it's used variously as a filling for cookies (such as for alfajores) and pastries, as a cake frosting, as a dip for fruit, as a spread for toast or pancakes and as a flavoring or topping for ice cream and flan. Dulce de leche can be found in jars or tubs in Latin markets.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.