Dulce de leche is the sweet, gooey caramel sauce that brings tears to the eyes of everyone who grew up with it, notably people from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
In Chile and Ecuador it's known as manjar, in Portugal doce de leite and in Mexico cajeta. If you grew up in New Zealand, you'll recognise it as caramelised condensed milk.
With South American flavours trending, and the craze for salted caramel unabated, it's sweeping all before it.
Whatever you call it, this insanely delicious, sweet and gloopy caramel is brilliant swirled through yoghurt, slathered on hot toast or served with ice cream or cake. And because it's even better just spooned straight from the jar.
The traditional method is to simmer milk, sugar and sodium bicarbonate for about three hours until it thickens into a caramel. Or boil unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk for three hours.
Given these can explode if not submerged at all times, the safest method is to cheat. Pour 500g of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow, heatproof baking dish. Cover tightly with foil, place in a roasting pan and add hot water to halfway up the pan. Bake at 220C for 1½ hours until golden brown and set firm. Beat with a wooden spoon, transfer to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.
PANCAKES WITH DULCE DE LECHE
150g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp caster sugar
250ml buttermilk or milk
1 Tbsp light olive oil or melted butter
1 Tbsp butter
200g dulce de leche (see recipe)
200g strawberries, trimmed and sliced
1 Tbsp icing sugar
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix with salt.
In a second bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, buttermilk and oil together, then pour into dry ingredients, whisking until mixed but still a bit lumpy.
Rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
Melt a little of the butter in a non-stick pan, and add batter by the heaped tablespoon. Cook until golden, about one minute, then turn and cook other side, about one minute. Add a little more butter and cook remaining pancakes.
To serve, spread pancakes with dulce de leche, scatter with berries, dust with icing sugar and drizzle with cream. Serves four.