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Dulce de Leche -- The Real McCoy

If you use goat's milk or goat's milk and cow's milk, half and half, you will have made the wonderful cajeta, so prized in Mexico. All cow's milk works perfectly, too.

2 quarts goat's milk, or half goat's milk and half cow's milk, or all cow's milk (use whole milk)
1 green onion (optional)
2 cups sugar
2-inch piece cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

In a heavy, 6- to 8-quart pot, combine milk, sugar and cinnamon stick (and green onion, if using, see story) and stir until the milk comes to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the dissolved baking soda. When the bubbles subside, return pot to the heat. Maintain the mixture at a brisk simmer, keeping a gentle roll across the milk's surface. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture colors to caramel-brown and thickens to the consistency of maple syrup. The bubbles will become larger and glassier.

Stir regularly so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. The volume will decrease to about 1/4. The process should take 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. A spoonful of the sauce, cooled, should have the consistency of medium-thick caramel sauce. If thicker, stir in a little water. If too runny, keep cooking. Strain the dulce de leche through a fine-mesh strainer over a wide-mouthed storage jar. Makes about 3 cups.

Adapted from Rick Bayless

Thursday, May 02, 2002

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