The New York Times featured a recipe for alfajores (Argentine sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche and coconut) a couple weeks ago that also discussed making one’s own dulce de leche. This reminded me of a recipe I had come up with a few years ago, in part due to my love of food from Latin America. It’s got two classic flavors from that cuisine creating a mix of tart and sweet.
My friends Arianna and Matt just had a very cute baby boy and, because most people with six-month-old kids don’t have time to cook, I brought them some of the latest batch. And not just because they lived in Argentina for a while.
Oh, and the alfajores turned out pretty well too.
Ari and Matt’s Dulce de Limeche
2 cups cream
2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
zest of 3 limes, separated
1 14 oz can condensed milk
To make the dulce de leche, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the label from the can. Add to the pot, ensuring that the water level is above the top of the can. Boil for three and a half hours, checking every half an hour to ensure that the water is still above the can. If it isn’t, the can may overheat and explode, which you don’t want to happen. It’ll be messy.
After the can is done, turn off the stove, remove the can from the water with tongs, and let cool. Then, open the can and pour/scoop the dulce de leche into a large bowl. Add one cup milk and whisk until relatively smooth. Position a strainer above it.
Whisk to combine 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, sugar, vanilla extract, zest of two limes, and salt in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, but don’t let it boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let sit for half an hour.
Whisk three egg yolks in a medium bowl. It’s OK if there are some traces of egg white — no need to be a perfectionist — but try to minimize that.
Reheat the dairy mixture. When it is hot but not yet simmering (honestly, if it starts to simmer a little, you’ll be OK), remove from heat. Slowly ladle about a cup into the egg yolks, whisking with one hand while ladling with the other to temper the yolks.
Once complete, transfer the yolk mixture to the pot, and then return to medium heat. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom at times. Once the custard is thick enough to slightly coat the back of the spatula (another sign: you will start to notice that scraping the bottom of the pot encounters some solid residue), remove from heat and pour through the strainer.
I whisk the base as it strains to speed up the process a bit. Wash the whisk off. Once the base has strained, whisk the base with the dulce de leche mixture that’s at the bottom until combined. Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool for thirty minutes (if you’re too lazy, it’s ok to just do this on the counter). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours before churning.
When ready to churn, whisk the mixture to reincorporate the base and add zest of remaining lime. Pour into the ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Freeze for eight hours. This is a softer ice cream than most, so keep that in mind when transporting and serving.