Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche

by Holly on March 24, 2010

As promised, here is the recipe and directions for the Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche I made and used in the cookies for Tuesdays with Dorie. I modified the recipe liberally from one by Nigella Lawson, using more vanilla to milk/sugar ratio in mine. I really wanted that vanilla flavor to come through and it really does.
This DDL is fantastic in cookies, but our favorite way to use it is to just scoop it up with apple slices to our little hearts’ content. I hope if you try the recipe, you’ll let me know how it goes. I’ve tried other recipes before and had them fail on me, mainly because I think I gave up too soon when the mixture didn’t seem to be thickening or darkening within the time I thought it should. I persisted this time and finally got the results I wanted, and here you go!

Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche

Half gallon whole milk

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

½ teaspoon baking soda

In a large pan, bring the milk to a boil. Once it has boiled, use a fine mesh strainer to sieve the milk into a very large pan. The dulce de leche mixture will boil and climb like crazy, so choose a really large pan.

In the large pan, add the sugar and vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, into the pan. Add the baking soda and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture back to a boil – there will be a lot of foaming so stay close by to stir. As soon as the mixture starts to boil it will start to thicken.

Stir the mixture occasionally with the wooden spoon so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. I think that heat temperature, as well as altitude can play a real factor in how long it takes to get the mixture to the darkness and consistency you want. I have read several recipes that say to cook it for about 1 hours to 1 ½ hours. It took me closer to three hours, but I didn’t give up and the mixture finally did darken and thicken the way I wanted, so just don’t give up!

When the mixture reaches close to the darkness you want, take the pan off the heat and place it in a sink filled with cold water to cool it down. Store the dulce de leche in clean jars in the refrigerator.

Yields 3-4 cups

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Memória March 24, 2010 at 6:27 am

This recipe looks great! Maybe I will like this more than the canned version. Thanks! It looks amazing.

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Nickki March 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

Oh wow I so want to try this! That looks wonderful. It would make such a lovely gift, if one could bear to give it away that is! 😉

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Di March 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Yum! Just curious, how much dulce de leche did you end up with from the half gallon of milk?

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

This looks wonderful, I can't believe I've not noticed this in my Nigella books, I will go and seek it out.

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Manggy March 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I find it very surprising that Nigella has a recipe that calls for a very long cooking time, but everything good is worth it! 🙂

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Carrian March 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

love this.

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Susan March 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

That looks fabulous! Next time I have a day off I will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

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Teanna DiMicco March 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I definitely will use this recipe when I make my own dulce de leche!

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theeclecticconnoisseur March 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm

You're DDL looks gorgeous! I love the pic of the ones with the hazelnuts. BTW, you're one of my favorite Kreativ Bloggers. Check it out: http://theeclecticconnoisseur.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/the-kreativ-blogger-award/

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dinneranddessert March 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I've made David Lebovitz's version with success, but that won't stop me from trying another recipe!

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Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] March 26, 2010 at 11:37 am

Wow homemade DDL by Nigella! I can't even begin to imagine how good it must be!

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Katrina March 27, 2010 at 12:58 am

That looks deee-licious! My 6 y.o. always wants to go to McDonald's just for the apples and caramel. I'll have to make this just for him (and so we don't have to go to McD's–we don't care for it.)

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steph- whisk/spoon March 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm

yum!! at a restaurant i used to work for, we made our own DdL from scratch, so i know this had to be delicious, esp with a nice vanilla bean!!

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Allie March 29, 2010 at 12:21 am

That looks wonderful!! I'll have to add it to my to do list.

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Becky April 5, 2010 at 2:48 am

holy yum! i must try soon! i have never made DdL from scratch!

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Aimée April 7, 2010 at 1:28 am

I've got a stack of vanilla beans–I'm making this! Thanks for the inspiration, Holly.

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