Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dulce de Leche

from www.nrg.co.il
To celebrate the heroic deed of Yehudit, who intoxicated the general of the opposing army with cheese and wine before slicing off his head, dairy products are often eaten on Chanukah.  What better way is there to enjoy dairy than caramelized?  My dad's family spent a couple generations in Argentina, so our family was eating "Dulce de Leche" before Ben and Jerry put it in ice cream.  It is also a popular sufgania (donut) filling here in Israel.  In Hebrew it is called "ribat chalav," literally milk jam.

Here in Israel I buy it in a jar on the shelf with peanut butter and jam (though the two are not commonly eaten together.)  It is sold in original, chocolate, vanilla. creme, and coffee flavors.  But my family in the United States makes it from a can.  And it's EASY!


All you need is a can (or two) of sweetened condensed milk.
  1. Make two holes in the can with a can opener or hammer and nail.
  2. Place can in a pot, with water within an inch or two of the top.
  3. Simmer for 3-4 hours, depending on desired viscosity. (Do you want a syrup or a thick spread?)



To be fair, not ALL Jewish traditions revolve around food.  There is a lovely tradition for women not to do any work for half an hour after lighting Chanukah candles in honor of the heroines attached the the holiday.

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 Dulce de leche is also a vital ingredient in "alfajores," two cakey cookies sandwiched around a generous layer of dulce de leche, and preferably covered in chocolate.  My relatives in Argentina would bring a couple boxes every time they came to visit, but you can make your own.

My Aunt Monica puts dulce de leche between two delicious chewy meringues.  She also uses it in cakes and other desserts. When I'm craving a donut, but want to avoid the deep fried-ness, I occasionally spread a delicious fresh, warm pita (pocket bread) with dulce de leche.  How do you like yours?

Happy Chanukah!

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