JULY 31, 2012–DULCE DE LECHE COFFEE
Every morning has a beginning, and every day has an ending, but my mornings do not start until I have my coffee–even if I have been up for a while. Coffee starts my brain, and when it hits my blood stream, my energy level. My morning cup of coffee can’t be too sweet or adulterated. I’ll just take a simple latte, please.
Now, I am ready to start my day.
Now, my afternoon coffee is my dessert. I add and mix and change things up all the time, and I loved Pioneer Woman’s DULCE DE LECHE COFFEE (pg. 232)
But right now, it is still morning, and we have work to do.
A large shipment of our Ypsi Doll shirts and skirts arrived, and we have orders to fill. But first, we have to organize everything into piles by size, and doll, and long sleeve or short sleeve.
I love the bright “bubble gum” colors of our Ypsi Doll skirts. Each doll has a predominate color–Audrey is pink, Maya is purple, Sienna is orange, and Scout is turquoise.
We just laid everything out on the floor. Since this time, we have a shelving area that is more organized.
I don’t exactly know how we can continue running a business out of our house. We were squished before the business, and even more so now. It took most of the morning and into the afternoon to pack orders. Lunch came and went, and still we were down in the basement with boxes, and packing slips, and tape, and invoices, and the occasional kid.
At 3:00 we needed a coffee break, so I decided to make a dessert coffee–DULCE DE LECHE.
There are many different ways to make coffee, but if you want an espresso base, this is the easiest way. We start with whole bean coffee that we grind in a burr grinder. Those other grinders work fine for perked or drip coffee, but they can’t get the coffee ground fine enough for an espresso–the base of lattes and cappuccinos.
For a good espresso maker, you can spend $3,000 dollars. Or you can spend $30. This is our stove-top espresso maker. I prefer stainless steel which tend to run just a little bit more, but nowhere near the $3,000 range.
In stove-top espresso makers, the water is added to the bottom of the espresso maker. The water heats to steam and then it is forced up through the coffee ground and spurts out the top.
The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the coffee ground insert, so don’t fill it all the way to the top.
Add the finely ground coffee into the insert and tamp the grounds down. You can buy a tamper ($5 to $25), but I just use the side of the coffee grounds catcher.
With the coffee tamped down, we can now screw on the top part of the stove-top coffee maker. There is a rubber, sealing-ring on the bottom of the top of the stove-top coffee maker. (That was fun–the bottom of the top of the stove-top. . .) Anyway. . .it is important that a seal forms, otherwise all the steam comes out of the pressure valve (see it in the photo?), and no steam goes up through the grounds to make you coffee.
Turn on your burner, and wait for about a minute or two. . .
Dark, delicious, coffee will start spurting out the center of your coffee maker.
A latte needs frothed milk. The device on the right is a Frother. Fill the glass beaker to the line, then pop in the microwave for about 75 seconds. Now take the Frother Plunger, and froth up some foam. (Please note: I avoided the word plunger as much as possible in this cooking post. You are welcome.)
Pour your frothed milk into a mug and add the deliciously, dark coffee.
The post is about DULCE DE LECHE COFFEE so at some point we need to add some Dulce de Leche (pronounced duel-say they lay-chay or something like that) But first, what is Dulce de Leche?
Dulce de Leche 101 coming up. First off, this is a Hispanic ingredient. In Spanish the words mean “a sweet made from milk” of “milk candy” Most South and Central American counties use Dulce de Leche, although they call it by different name. I grew up in Peru, where it was referred to as “manjar blanco“. The consistency varies from “pourable” all the way to “a fudge”. But in all cases, it is basically the same thing–a caramelized sweeten condensed milk–hence the caramel color.
To be precise, the darkened color is caused by a reaction called a Maillard Reaction (after some French chemist).
Now don’t leave me here; I am going to make this Maillard Reaction apply to your every day. First off, let’s pronounce this French word. [mah-‘lard] acent on the second sylable Not so bad. Mah-‘lard reactions add flavor to foods. It is a Mah-‘lard reaction that gives toast it’s flavor (different from bread) And it is the same Mah-‘lard reaction that makes the crust on a loaf of bread. A Mah-‘lard reaction is the reason we saute onions before adding them to recipes–the sauteing isn’t just about the butter, the heat actually changes their flavor. Maillard reactions not only change (and often enhance) flavours, but they also add colors and smells. (And remember smell is a big part of taste.) Coffee beans, maple syrup, and dulce de leche all get their distinct color, flavor, and aroma due to Maillard’s reaction. YUM!
How a Maillard reaction works involves words like “nucleophilic amino group” and “carbonyl group” and “deprotonated”, so we won’t go there. BUT! You just now learned why you prefer the end piece on a Sirloin Tip Roast or a French roast of coffee or Dark Amber Maple Syrup. (most info from here.)
Now before I hit you with any more information, drizzle on some of the Maillard Reaction Milk on your latte made from Maillard Reaction Coffee Beans.
(I made the kiddos mini Maillard Reaction Beverages)
You can make Dulce de Leche from scratch. All you need is milk, sugar, vanilla, and a lot of time. I mean a lot of time. Think about stirring milk for 2 hours.
You can also make Dulce de Leche from canned sweeten condensed milk. This also involves time, but less stirring. The microwave version just requires you to dump some sweetened condensed milk into a bowl and microwave for 2 minute interval for 20 – 30 minutes stirring often. The stove top version can be made in a double boiler (simmer sweetened condensed milk for 1 – 2 hours stirring occasionally).
(Another close up of a Mini Maillard Reaction Beverage dusted with some Maillard reaction malt)
OR, you can use the can of sweetened condensed milk as a double boiler. Remove the paper label and pierce two holes in the can of sweetened condensed milk with a can opener. Fill a sauce pan with water, and set the sweetened condensed milk inside. Simmer for 3 – 4 hours. The complete directions are here.
The oven and crock pot are also options. In the oven you set your temperature at 425 degrees, and roast the sweetened condensed milk in an aluminum foil covered pie plate–stirring occasionally– for 1 – 2 hours.
The crock pot method is probably the easiest, in that you fill a crock pot up to the level of an opened can of sweetened condensed milk. Cook for 8 hours.
The scariest method involves a pressure cooker. Please read the complete directions here before trying. An UNOPEND AND UNPIERCED can of sweetened condensed milk is put in a pressure cooker that is 3/4 of the way filled with water.
Cook for 45 – 50 minutes. The pressure inside the cooker will match the pressure inside the can of sweetened condensed milk and if you do everything right, neither will explode.
Dulce de Leche Coffee found a place on my shelf for the rest of the summer. I greatly enjoyed drinking my Maillard Reaction Coffee sweetened with Maillard Reaction Dulce de Leche.
The Dulce de Leche on the left was made in the crock pot. It had a funny texture–almost custard-like, until I blended it in my Kitchen Aid. The Dulce de Leche on the right was made in the pressure cooker for 55 minutes. I preferred the taste of the darker (crock pot) Dulce de Leche. I think pressure cooker Dulce de Leche would get just as dark, if you left it longer. I was just scared something would explode on me if I left it in longer than 55 minutes. I haven’t tried the oven, stove-top, or microwave options. Let me know if you do.
One last thing.
While in the Mexican aisle, I saw this “raw” sugar for $2.58 for 4lbs. Now I am a lover of wonderfully-refined-tastes-devine white sugar, but if you are going for that Starbuck feel, this is a cheaper alternative than Sugar In The Raw.
Sweet Maria! It is time for this coffee discussion to end.
Happy Mah-‘lard reactioning in your cooking.
Kitchen 101 class is dismissed.
Thanks for putting up with me,
P.S. Since we are officially finished with the food portion of this post, I can now bring up the word, “plunger”. The bathroom kind. I am just wondering on the protocol involved in my “plunger situation.” You see, our neighbors borrowed our plunger two days ago, and have never returned it. Exactly what protocol is involved in its return? Does “plunger etiquette” require small talk upon its return? How do I greet the arrival and bearer of the plunger at the back door? Should I consider the fact that my neighbor borrowed my plunger that we are on familiar terms now? Do I kindly “relieve” the situation by knocking on the door and saying that I don’t want my plunger back? Yesterday, I actually purchased another plunger, but didn’t quite know how to “gift it” to our neighbor, so we kept it. It actually doesn’t work as well as our plunger that is currently abiding at our neighbor’s house. Is there proper wording for a “plunger swap?” I will stop.