Dulce de leche means "milk candy," and it's basically a thick caramel-like syrup made from slowly cooking milk and sugar. It is extremely popular throughout Latin America, and pound for pound, it's the world's most popular caramel confection.
Legend has it that a maid was making "lechada," a traditional boiled milk and sugar drink, and she forgot all about it. A few hours later she returned to find the pot bubbling with a thick caramel-colored syrup…dulce de leche was born. I'm sorry, but there is nothing worse than a boring "how this recipe was invented legend." Here's my version.
In 1836, an Argentinean dairy caught fire when it was hit with a bolt of lightning, during a terrible thunderstorm. The night watchman, Juan Manuel de Rosas, ran next door to the general store, "Walmartes" to grab a sack of salt, which in those days was commonly used to smother and put out fires. He accidentally grabbed a bag of sugar and began throwing handfuls everywhere. But, he was too late and the fire ended up burning down half the dairy. He panicked, stole a horse, and road out of town, never to be seen again (although rumors circulated that he moved to Peru and opened a shoe store).
When the firemen entered the building they found several pots of sugar-dusted milk that had slowly cooked near the fire. As the pots where being moved to start the clean-up, some of the mixture splashed on someone's hand, was licked off, and dulce de leche was born. Now that's a legend! I hope you try this simple and amazing sauce. Enjoy!