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Thursday, September 4, 2014

D for Dominican Republic ~ Dulce de Leche en Tabla


Event: BM #44
Choice of country: Dominican Republic
Capital City: Santo Domingo
Official Language: Spanish

I am going with Dominican Republic for the letter 'D' and it is in Atlantic ocean, between north and south American Continents. 
Caribbean sea, a sea in Atlantic ocean lies towards the southeastern side of USA and is home to 22 island territories. This Caribbean island group is called the Greater Antilles and one of these islands goes with the name Hispaniola. This particular island is divided between two nations, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The original inhabitants of the region were Taino people and they called the island, Quisqueya (mother of all lands) and Ayiti (land of high mountains.). Christopher Columbus, the Spanish explorer landed on the island in 1492 and named it Hispaniola. The region became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and Santo Domingo became Spain's first capital in the new world. Santo Domingo is the oldest, continuously inhabited, European settlement in the Americas. It is the site of the first university, castle, cathedral, monastery and fortress in the new world.
The native Taino, Spanish and African influences are predominantly seen in Dominican Republic cuisine. The Spanish dishes are made with a new twist while the native and African dishes are still dominant, some of them unchanged.  Dominican Republic cuisine resembles the cuisines of other Latin American countries. 

During the recipe hunt for this marathon, I have come to admire two food bloggers from the Latin world. One is from Colombian background and the other one is Clara from whom this recipe comes. I have started to like her photography, writing skills and recipes immensely and have bookmarked few of her recipes. Initially I wanted to try her cassava bread but when I saw the pictures of this Dominican version of milk fudge, I was sold. We literally were bowled over the taste of it and couldn't stop comparing it to our own doodh peda. We, especially my husband who enjoyed it the most started reminiscing about the good old days spent in our homeland and the melt in mouth kind, doodh peda we get to taste there. He doesn't have a sweet tooth and  I have seen him over the years, enjoying at the most only 2 or 3 kinds of sweets. Then imagine how good these milk sqaures must have been when the above said man was popping a fudge each day, without anyone reminding him.
Now let's come to the Dominican version of this milk fudge. Guess this is one of those dishes that crosses countries and cultures and connects people. :) I am always amazed when I see a familiar recipe in other traditional versions across the globe. I wonder how people worldwide created similar dishes without even ever realizing it. What do you do when you have loads of left over milk but no refrigerator? "Make some yummy dulce de leche en tabla" must have been the answer if you lived in Dominican Republic before the refrigerator era. This one is a yummy treat for everyone with a sweet tooth.
Traditionally this dish is prepared by continuously boiling and stirring a large quantity of milk for hours, until it is thickened. Then the mixture is poured into mold, allowed to set and then cut into squares. It stays fresh for days without getting spoiled. This method takes hours to prepare but it is worth it. For a short cut method, the below version uses condensed milk and one can quantity takes less than an hour (about 30 - 40 minutes if I recall correctly.) 

Ingredients: (Yields about 10 pieces)
14 oz / 400 grams sweetened condensed milk (I used it.)
14 oz / 400 grams unsweetened condensed milk + 1/4 cup sugar

1. The original recipe mentions to use an iron / aluminum pot. By default I reach for a nonstick pan when I am preparing sweet dishes, especially if they are milk based ones and cook on low flame. In that way I am ensured that the dish doesn't get burnt and my efforts don't go through the drain. And so I advise you to go with a non stick pan and a wooden spatula while preparing this fudge. The recipe is quite simple and just involves stirring. 
2. Here is a trick I learnt to avoid continuous stirring while preparing this fudge. Turn off the stove after 10 minutes of stirring and leave the pan on the stove-top for about 3 - 5 minutes and relax in the mean time. By the time one comes back to it and starts cooking it again, it would have thickened more than the time at which it was stopped (without hogging over the stove and stirring). Repeat it after every 10 minutes through the cooking process. This fudge making process did not seem tedious to me for the above reason.
3. I had no idea that it would become real firm once it gets cold and went on cooking. I could not drop the mixture into a mold because of it and shaped the warm mixture into squares by hand instead. 

*  Grease the mold with oil / melted butter / ghee.
* Pour a can of condensed milk into a nonstick pan and start cooking on low flame. Low flame is the key here. You cannot turn the heat high even if you are using a non stick pan. In spite of the continuous stirring and nonstick pan, the condensed milk starts burning around the edges, on high heat. And so keep cooking milk on low flame and keep stirring to avoid the milk sticking to the bottom.
* Keep stirring and continue cooking. The condensed milk keeps becoming darker in color and thicker in consistency.
I took the pictures every10 minutes once to show the progress. And if I recall correctly, these must be after 10, 20 and 30 minutes of cooking, respectively.
* If you are using sugar, stir in once the milk thickens enough and starts to lift from the bottom, about 15 minutes.
* It is ideal when the mixture reaches a consistency similar to peanut butter. Do not be tempted to cook it longer / thicker since the mixture forms up considerably once it cools down. I guess mine was a little bit thicker.
* Pour the mixture into a prepared, square shaped mold / a heat resistant plate with high edges. Gently smooth the top using a spatula. When it has come to room temperature, remove from the mold and cut into squares. 
* If you are not going to finish them sooner, refrigerate them. I stored them in a stainless steel box and left it over my kitchen counter. They are fresh even after a week.


Priya Suresh said...

Now am tempted to make this dulce de leche en Tabla, am sure these toffees are dangerously addictive.

Usha said...

This is just like out peda. It is indeed amazing how similar some of the food is around the world.

Varadas Kitchen said...

The hand made squares look really good. Nice recipe. I like your step by step pictures showing how thick the mixture should be.

Harini-Jaya R said...

Wow! I like the idea of switching off the heat and letting it rest. These DR pedas are very tempting!

Pavani N said...

Wow, what a deliciously indulgent dessert. Love your idea of cooking in intervals -- I mostly avoid making dishes that take too much staying near the stove 'cos my daughter wants to be picked exactly at the same time. But your trick will give me time for her :-)
Aunt Clara is our new friend. I cooked from her blog too ;-)

Manjula Bharath said...

omg such an alluring dessert :) seriously am tempted badly seeing you picture , Wud love to grab some right away !!

Srivalli said...

Wow your fudge has come out so good..I remember Clara's site, even I had landed there and bookmarked some..

Sapana Behl said...

Such a tempting dessert, it's making my mouth watering...lovely!

Chef Mireille said...

My best friend who is Dominican makes this the long old fashioned way however like your quick adaptation

vaishali sabnani said...

Actually I too am amazed the way different cuisine have similar recipes with different names. .whatever I am loving this fudge and want to make it right away. ..I might be off sweets but kids will love it. .aw..I am so tempted.

Padmajha PJ said...

Very sinful dessert. And thanks for the tip Suma.Will try it the next time I made doodh peda...

Kalyani said...

One ingredient wonder !!! .. almost like palkova or theratti paal !! deliciousl.. so these moulds are silicon or use can use any material ? How long do they need to set Suma ??

Priya Srinivasan said...

Oh wow this is a real quickie recipe and I love the final product, definitely bookmarked for the festive season! !

The Pumpkin Farm said...

looks yumm...i dont know whether you had it or not in your childhood but reminds me of a famous indian toffee ravalgaon by parle..

Gayathri Kumar said...

Yes, they look so much like our peda. And nice tip on stirring the mixture. Will use it for my next sweet...

Archana Potdar said...

Thanks to the tip of 10 minute break. I really need that! As for the dulce de leche en tabla its delicious! I love it.

Sreevalli E said...

They are look very irresistible & yum.