Dulce de Leche

What amazes you?  What grabs your attention and makes you pause in awe?  Something, anything, should.  Life is too short to live in utter indifference.

Live in awe.

Look at the beautiful world God has given us.  Have you ever pondered the complexity, the perfection that goes into it all?  Pretty deep stuff, I know.  Deep is good.  Think of the sun and its distance from our earth.  Think of water and its vitally important uses.  Any change in the way our world works, and, well, life as we know it would be unsustainable.

Think of the pleasures and the beauty that surround us.  Think of the senses.  Why do we have such vibrant colors, flavors, smells, and sounds?  God wants us to enjoy this life.  He wants us to experience and not merely survive.  Hey, we could’ve been drones.  We are so much more, and I think that is something to be amazed by.

If you’ve ever gone through a day feeling like….blah, well you know that everything begins to feel that way.  People.  Trees.  Air.  Clothes.  Music.  Food.  Everything.  I hate those days.  When those days come on, just take a moment to soak everything in.  Think of the big stuff.  Even more, think of the little things.  Things you enjoy.

You know what amazes me?  Dulce de leche.

Dulce de leche amazes me because it is as simple as opening a can of sweetened condensed milk, pouring the contents into a shallow baking dish set in a water bath, and letting it slowly boil down for and hour and a half in a 425 deg oven.  There you go, a recipe and cool fact all in one 🙂

For real, though, dulce de leche is super expensive at the store.  We’re talking upwards of $6 for a jar.  That might be too lenient of a guess.  My dulce de leche cost $0.89.  Worth it?  Totally.

It’s luxurious.  It’s sophisticated.  It’s golden, carmelly, milky goodness.  Here’s a few ideas to use your freshly made dulce de leche:

-poured warm over vanilla ice cream

-sandwiched between two cookies (can anyone say alfajores?)

-drizzled over apple pie

-eaten raw from a spoon

-mixed into frosting that goes on top of brown sugar cupcakes.

Yes, cupcakes.

I made these cupcakes for a special occasion 🙂  They certainly are a special occasion kind-of dessert.  You know what’s cool about that?  Every day can be an occasion if only you allow it.  Remember, it’s all about living in wonder of what’s around you.

The cake part of these cupcakes is fairly simple to make.  Here’s our cast of characters:

It has taken me countless baking excursions to fully understand and appreciate the importance of having every ingrediant out BEFORE beginning to bake.  This includes remembering to put the butter, eggs, and milk out extra early so that they come to room temperature.  I don’t care what anyone says, the butter should not be microwaved unless your goal is to melt it.  Partially microwaving it may or may not affect the texture and crumb of the cake.  Better to not take risks in baking.  Let it come to room temperature.  It’s all about patience.  So please heed my advice and set everything up beforehand.  You’ll find the going much easier 🙂

I halved the recipe, but the original makes 24.  Make the full recipe!  You’ll want it!

Here’s the ingrediants for the frosting:

Cream cheese and dulce de leche.  Swoon.

Ok, so I know I haven’t been attatching recipes lately.  I will most definitely do that this time.  Also, I should mention that I did garnish the cupcakes with a drizzle of dulce de leche after frosting them.  However, I failed to take a picture of the fully dressed cupcakes before they were all eaten.  Do this!  It makes them look all fancy and professional.  Just heat up the dulce de leche in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Dip a fork into the warm caramel and wave it back and forth over the cupcakes.  Does this make a mess?  Yes.  Does it look awefully puuurdy?  Yup 🙂

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker and The Gourmet Cookbook

Cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling (recipe below)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

 Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Set aside two cupcake pans with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and creamy.  Stop the mixer, scrape down sides, and add one egg.  Beat in for one minute.  Repeat same process for second egg and then the third.  Scrape down sides of bowl, add vanilla, and beat in.

Add half the flour and just barely beat in.  Slowly drizzle in the buttermilk.  Beat in until incorporated.  Stop mixer, scrape down, and beat in rest of flour on low speed, being careful not to overmix.

Divide batter between prepared cupcake pans, filling till about two-thirds full.  Bake for about 18 to 20 mins.  Make sure to test with a toothpick. Let rest in cupcake pans before removing each cupcake to a wire rack to cool completely.  Make sure to let them completely cool before frosting them.

To make the frosting:

Put cream cheese in large mixing bowl.  Cream on high speed till soft.  Scrape down sides of bowl and add butter and dulce de leche.  Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.  Add salt and powdered sugar until well mixed.  Spread frosting generously on cupcakes with offset spatula or fill piping bag and make big swirls.  Garnish with extra drizzle of dulce de leche.

Store cupcakes in refrigerator due to the cream cheese in the frosting.  Let come to room temperature before eating.

Enjoy!

Dulce de Leche

recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 425 deg.

Pour contents of can into a shallow baking dish or glass pie pan.  Stir in a few flecks of sea salt (or table salt if you are a poor college student like me!)

Set dish into a larger baking dish.  Fill with water until halfway up the side of the dish with the sweetend condensed milk.

Set in oven for about an hour to an hour and a half.  Check a few times throughout baking to see if water needs to be added or not.

The dulce de leche will look golden brown when it is ready.  Remove pan from oven and let cool.  Do not stir until cooled!  Once it is, whisk the dulce de leche until smooth.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  I’m not sure how long it will last, but it should be quite awhile.  Warm in microwave when ready to use….but not for the frosting!  Mix it in cold for that.

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