Chileans are a nation of sweet tooths. Most popular of all ingredients in their sweet treats is the inclusion of dulce de leche, or manjar, a thick rich caramel made by boiling down milk and sugar. They use it to make tarts, tortes, biscuits, and toppings for icecream and pancakes. My favourite was the chuchufli which is a hollow tubular wafer filled with dulce de leche and dipped in chocolate....very addictive!
I took a jar of manjar home with me as the supermarket was FULL of choice and it really is quite delicious. The only option here in NZ is to make your own from scratch, boil a can of sweetened condensed milk or buy a can of Nestle caramel. Those last two options really are super sweet and don't give the richness of flavour to the caramel like making it traditionally does.
So I attempted to give it a go following this recipe by Laylita. She shows a step by step process and it is excellent. I used regular white sugar and as I had some palm sugar left in my pantry I included that as well which gave it the most amazing flavour. I also halved the amount as I didn't have enough milk for 8 cups but next time I think I'll make the larger amount, given that it takes a fair few hours to make.
To keep going with a traditional latin america theme I also made alfajores, little shortbread biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche. Usually sprinkled with a bit of icing sugar but as it is already a very sweet cookie I thought perhaps it might go into sugar overload! I also made these quite thin as I preferred them like that. In Chile they vary in size and thickness - mostly they were so large they needed halving and sharing!
8 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Add all ingredients together and over a medium low temperature and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Keep on low temperature and let sit for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After 1 1/2 hours you will need to watch it more carefully as it will start to thicken. Give it regular stirs to keep it from burning or boiling over.
After about 3 hours it will have thickened and darkened in colour. It is ready when it has a thick cream-like consistency. It will thicken even more once cooled.
This makes about 4 small jars and keeps in the fridge.
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Add sifted flour and beat until well combined.
Using two sheets of baking paper roll out dough to about .5cm thick and cut out with a round cookie cutter.
Bake for 10 mins in 180 deg C oven.