This rich drink will give warm you through and through.
2 ozs. La Dorita dulce de leche liqueur
1 cup Hot, Dark Chocolate
1 dash Cayenne Pepper
1 oz. Whipping Cream and dark chocolate chips for garnish.
Combine the hot chocolate and dulce de leche liqueur. Top with whipped cream and garnish.
My son Nacho was just 18-months old when Gastón and I first took our dulce de leche to market. One morning I snapped this picture of him eating his dulce de leche and banana puree.
I wanted people to know that I fed my own babies our dulce de leche, and that once you have safely introduced cow’s milk to your baby’s diet, that it is safe for pureeing baby’s first fruits—afterall, dulce de leche is one of the main food groups that any Argentine baby must get down. Nacho is now seven years old. I still feed him bananas with dulce de leche, but instead of pureeing them, he spreads the dulce on the banana.
Elise is my friend, Dana’s youngest daughter. Dana sent me this picture of baby Elise eating dulce de leche straight from the spoon during her afternoon snack. With biscuit in hand, Elise had me at her blue bow and gained a spot on the side of our dark chocolate dulce de leche jar.
Dulce de leche is so versatile, especially when preparing your own homemade baby food as it adds just enough sweetness as well a velvety finish that is easy for babies to swallow.
I blend it with almost any ripe, mashed fruit and some instant baby cereal and it has gotten me through many meal battles with my children. It’s handy to have a small food processor or high-speed blender (I use my Ninja single-serve cup), but depending on the age and ripeness of the fruit, you can simply mash with a fork. I especially feel good about it because I know they’re eating wholesome ingredients, since I make each serving fresh.
This doesn’t only work for breakfast. The dulce de leche combination works well blended with baked sweet potatoes as well as butternut squash. For heartier baby food, prepare old-fashioned oatmeal and mix in the fruit and dulce de leche blend hot off the stove; then mix in a blender or food processor. I’ve included some of my old-faithful combinations below.
serves 1; Prep time: 5 min.
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 large teaspoon dulce de leche
- 1 tablespoon whole grain baby cereal of choice
- COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS and blend until smooth. If child is a toddler, you can also easily mash with a fork for a heartier consistency.
- serves 2; Prep time: 5 min.
- 1 apple, peeled and cubed
- 3 strawberries
- 1 large tablespoon dulce de leche
- 2 tablespoons whole grain baby cereal of choice
- COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS and blend until smooth. Divide mixture into two 4-oz. mason jars. Keeps in the refrigerator for two days.
- serves 2; Prep time: 5 min.
Apricot-pear baby food:
- 12 dried apricots
- 1 ripe Bartlett pear, peeled and cubed
- 1 tablespoon dulce de leche
- 1 tablespoon whole grain baby cereal of choice
- PLACE APRICOTS IN a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice from the pan.
- Combine all ingredients along with reserved juice and blend until smooth.
This could just be my favorite summer dessert. I get two for one… the crostata along with a delicious apple syrup that I can reheat and serve over ice cream. This is a forgiving rustic dessert that doesn’t need to look neat or pretty, as the taste speaks for itself. The oats-and-brown-sugar crumble that finishes off the crostata adds a subtle crunch to each bite. (I put the crostata out of my kids’ reach because they have a tendency to pick off all of the crumble!)
serves 12; PREP time: Active: 30 min.; TOTAL: 1 hour, 30 min.
2 to 2 ½ cups of unbleached self-rising flour
1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 to 2 tablespoons 2% or whole milk
Extra flour, for dusting
8-10 apples (I prefer Gala or Fuji), sliced
¾ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup confectionary dulce de leche
1 cup oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°. Put all of the dough ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it forms pea-like balls. Flour both hands and pour dough onto a kneading surface. Gradually incorporate all of the ingredients by rolling, pushing and folding it over just until moist. Add more flour or drops of milk, as needed, to reach the right consistency. Lightly flour top of the dough and form it into a roundish shape; place on a baking tray. Refrigerate for ½ an hour to set. Dough can be used immediately or wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for 1 day.
To make the apple filling, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice until apples become soft and caramelized. In a food processor, add oats, brown sugar and melted butter, and pulse until it creates a crumble topping.
Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick circle, making sure it is even. Move to a lightly greased baking pan and spread confectionary dulce de leche on the bottom of the crostata, leaving enough of an edge to fold over. With a slotted spoon, add apple filling, making sure to first drain the juices and fold over the edges, creating a rustic package (this does not have to be symmetrical). Reserve the remaining apple juices for reheating at a later time and serving over vanilla ice cream. Add crumble topping. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
We made it into O, The Oprah Magazine! Even if it’s just a blurb, we are honored to be in such good company! For as long as I can remember, I have loved and admired Oprah Winfrey, and everything she stands for and her spiritual offerings that she shares with all of us so freely! A couple of months back, I submitted an online answer to O Magazine’s question, “What do you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?” I wrote about my tried-and-true Sunday baking therapy ritual that allows me to get back to being me. I’m a “maker” by nature… In other words I like to use my hands for baking and writing. I like to have a finished product that I can be proud of. When things seem out of control, creating something helps me get centered and gain new perspective in the process. I thank my Grandma for this. While it seems like a small thing…the love for baking she instilled in me as a child…it has greatly helped me as an adult to overcome many tough times.
Speaking of making things, for the last year I have been immersed in a cookbook manuscript I have been writing and hope to get published, “My Grandmother’s Dulce de Leche.” While the book introduces dulce de leche and it’s many personalities, along with more than 100 recipes of how to incorporate it into your everyday life, it has also given me an opportunity to tell my story about why at the age of 35 I decided to get into the food business, and pursue my passion. It has been cathartic to say the least and I hope my story will help someone take that leap of faith. Below is an excerpt from the introduction. I’m honored to share it with anyone willing to listen!
“I visited Dorita in Argentina on her 93rd birthday with a bottle of our new liqueur under one arm and my daughter, Poupée, wrapped in the other. She was ten months old and would be meeting her Great Grandmother for the first time. We toasted to life that day, and our new baby girl. I’m not sure if Dorita ever knew the depth of our dulce de leche aspirations and the legacy and company we were hoping to honor her with, but it was within the silence of her dining room that day that I finally found peace.
My daughter, who bears my mom’s name, was fast asleep next to me. Dorita had fallen asleep in her chair after pouring a little too much dulce de liqueur in her coffee. I found myself between these two glorious women, and had never felt more awake and alive. In that moment, I came to realize that the extent of the dissatisfaction I was feeling all these years with my life was the result of failing to look properly at that which was right in front of me.
In the quiet of Dorita’s room it dawned on me that La Dorita was not a gift for my grandma. It was a gift for me. My mom and Dori, my great grandmother and namesake, Josefina, my father’s mother, Buby—they all conspired to make sure that I would receive the gift of dulce de leche to survive their loss, and learn to live a new life without their physical presence. They were all there in that room with me that day. And each one of them whispered to me, “Your journey is about standing on your own.”
Dorita peacefully passed away six months later. She was ready to go and although we let her go, we continue to celebrate her each day in the everyday rituals of our family kitchen. It’s in the kitchen that I feel closest to my mom and Dori. It’s where we talk. I immerse myself in late night cooking after getting the kids to bed and am true to my Sunday baking therapy ritual. After my family, cooking has become my second passion in life. They are almost synonymous, one with the other. This adoration was instilled by my incredible grandma and mom, two supreme matriarchs who recognized the power of gathering around a table to bring and keep people together. The key to Dori’s cooking was simplicity, good ingredients and trusting yourself to combine them well.
It’s in the kitchen I feel closest to my husband, Gastón, recounting our day’s events and children’s anecdotes over a bottle of wine as we strategize the next step for our dulce de leche business. It’s there that, to quote the words of Oprah Winfrey, I remind myself to “be grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.” Regardless of the path that my dulce de leche takes me on, I am committed to seeing where it takes me.”
Love you to the moon and back, Dori!
I was in Harrisburg recently and had the most delicious plate of baked oatmeal at this tiny little restaurant called Yellow Bird Café. It was 5 below that morning, and the oatmeal was just what I needed to give me the courage to face the day. This Sunday is another cold one here in Pittsburgh, so I’m recreating the dish for my family. To make your morning easier, you can prepare the oatmeal the night before, prepare the casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge until the following morning. Then you can simply bake and will have a hearty breakfast to serve with almost no prep time.
SERVES 9 generously; Prep time: Active: 10 min.; TOTAL: 1 hour
1 large apple, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
3 3/4 cups of water (adjust as necessary when sauteing the apples with cinnamon)
6 cups old-fashioned oats
3 ½ cups milk (you can substitute almond milk for a nuttier flavor)
1 cup dulce de leche
Raspberries and blueberries for garnish (or your choice of fresh fruit and slivered almonds)
Preheat oven TO 350°. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine apples, butter, cinnamon and ¼ cup of the water and sauté until apples become soft. Stir often to avoid scalding the cinnamon. Add water, as needed, to maintain a syrupy consistency.
Stir in the rest of the water and milk, dash of salt and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and add dulce de leche and oats, stirring frequently for about 5-7 minutes, or until it thickens and the flavors blend.
Lightly coat a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the oatmeal mixture into the dish, evenly spreading out.
Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top is nicely golden and the oatmeal mixture is set.
Allow to cool for five minutes before cutting into. Plate and serve with fresh fruit and a light drizzle of maple syrup or honey.