19 April 2009

Dulce de Leche, Facturas and Tortas

Argentinians are clearly fanatical about two things: meat and Dulce de Leche ("milk jam").

You can't come to Argentina without hearing the word "asado" (roast), which is a technique of cooking meats - predominantly beef - on a parrilla (grill). My mouth is watering simply thinking about it.

Dulce de leche is made by slowly simmering milk with A LOT of sugar, while stirring it constantly. The water in the milk evaporates and the mixtures thickens, resulting in a caramel syrup which is used in almost every pastry, dessert and cake in Argentina. It is said to have been discovered by accident, when a woman forgot about the sweetened milk she was heating on the stove.

Dulce de leche is so sweet that for the few first few months of eating it I would get temporal headaches - and an an involuntary twitch in the right side of my face whenever I smelt it. I didn't mention this to anyone as I think it's a national crime to speak badly about Dulce de leche, hence you risk being expatriated. Though after four months in Argentina I have started to develop a liking for it.

[Below] Argentineans reading this need not panic - the price hasn't escalated six-fold. This photo was taken in Uruguay, where dulce de leche is also very popular - as it is in Chile, Colombia and Brazil (where it is called "Doce de Leite")

[Below] Facturas. A factura is a pastry. There are many different varieties of facturas but they generally have lethal levels of Dulce de Leche as their common denominator. They are cheap and delicious, and Argentineans eat them - many of them - for breakfast.

Yesterday I only ate sugar. Facturas for breakfast. Cake-mixture for lunch. Facturas for dinner. Am I becoming Argentinean?

[Below] Unfortunately though, my cake didn't turn out as well as my last one. I followed all the instructions but the oven I used doesn't have temperature markings on the dial, hence I had to guess the temperature. The instructions clearly stated: Do NOT open the oven for 60 minutes. So I didn't. And although I did smell something burning after 10 minutes, I assumed that was merely spilled cake-mix burning on the oven floor.

[Below] I cut away all the burnt parts - i.e. the top, bottom and sides. Besides the burnt chocolate-chips, it still looks edible. What do you think?

Click here to see my last, successful attempt at baking. Note that I look slightly happier.
Click here to read more about the history of Dulce de Leche.

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Related Posts

- Eating guinea pigs (Peru)
- Mystery street foods (Bolivia)
- Food poisoning (Chile)
- Intestines... YUM! (Argentina)


  1. Hey Ara! Just found your blog through BAExpats - love your stories and photos! I also have a question... Where in BA did you find chocolate chips? I'm dying to bake some old-fashioned choco-chip cookies and the best I've found so far is a bar to chop into chunks... but I'd love some real chips!

  2. Hi Gillian!
    Hmm... I'm almost embarrassed to answer that question. I found the choco-chips in the packet of the cake-mixture I bought from the supermarket. I know, I know... Shame on me. And I even managed to mess up the formulaic procedure. But really, really... it wasn't my fault! haha
    Thanks for reading and for you kind comments! :)
    much love and light!

  3. It looks edible. Maybe you are becoming Argentinian but you definitely need to get better at estimating where the markings would be on the dial ;-)

    I am hungry enough for chocolate to want to bake a cake myself right now. Hope your next attempt was better than the first.

    1. Yeah, I did end up eating it, but I had to take the crumbling chunks and shove them in my mouth. It wasn't pretty. :)