I’ve been meaning to make a can of dulce de leche at home, as it takes nearly zero effort to make. Just toss a can of sweetened condensed milk into pot, cover completely with water, and simmer for four and a half to five hours. Drain off the water, rest overnight, and indulge! Of course you want to make sure you check on the pot of water every 30 minutes or so, to top it up with water. The liquid evaporates quickly and you don’t want your pot to go dry with your stovetop still turned on. No taking off to have lunch with friends!
I baked a batch of these muffins a few weeks ago but it was a spur of the moment, not-gonna-have-time-to-blog-this kind of morning, and I wasn’t able to share them with you. Round two is just as tasty as I remember, and made even better with the addition of last night’s batch of dulce de leche. These muffins are butter free, with the butter in the recipe having been replaced with melted coconut oil. I used mashed banana and homemade apple sauce to add moistness, and replaced 1/4 of the brown sugar with dulce de leche. Success!
Dulce de leche is most commonly used in South American countries and comes in many different forms, from a soft crumbly texture in El Salvador to the creamy soft version called Cajeta from Mexico, made of goats milk. It’s also long been a sweet staple in Norway, the Philippines, and Russia. The Russian preparation is the one I’ve used here, and is the simplest, lowest-commitment version. The best way to prepare it at home.
The Banana Pecan Muffins with Dulce de Leche: yields approx 1 dozen muffins
(The evening before)
-Place one can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot, cover the can completely with water, and bring to a simmer for four and a half to five hours. Check on the pot often to top it up with water as it evaporates, and turn the can over halfway through cooking so that you don’t end up with one end more caramelized than the other (or even burned!).
-Carefully drain off the hot water, remove the can of milk from the pot with a pair of tongs or a dry towel, and rest at room temperature overnight.
(The day of)
1 small apple (preferably green) diced
2 cups all purpose flour
1+1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TB (heaping) homemade dulce de leche
1/4 cup coconut oil melted (or butter)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (plus more for the muffin tops)
-Preheat your oven to 385 F.
-Place the diced apple in a small pot with a splash of water, bring to medium heat, and cook until ‘mashable’ consistency. You will need to add a spash of water 2 to 3 times during the cooking process as the pot dries out. Be sure to stir the apples with a spatula every couple of minutes.
-Mix the flour, soda, salt, pecans, and brown sugar, in a large bowl. Mix well.
-In a separate bowl mix together the mashed banana, apple sauce, dulce de leche (if it’s quite firm: smooth it out with a spoon before mixing with other wet ingredients), coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla.
-Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture all at once, and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix the batter, just be sure there are no large chunks of dry flour using a folding motion with your spatula.
-Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan, or reusable silicon muffin ‘papers’ like these ones that I use, and toss in the oven.
-Bake for 15-20 mins, or until the tops are beginning to brown and the centers bounce back when you press down on them lightly.
-Remove from the oven and rest on a wire rack to cool for 15 mins before serving.
“When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins. I can’t eat them in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”