What is milk jam and how do I make it?

Deliciously satisfying, this is a custard-like spread everyone should try on their toast or in coffee

Milk jam can be served on toast  or as a topping for ice cream, or adding to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for a sweetened drink. Photograph: iStock

Milk jam can be served on toast or as a topping for ice cream, or adding to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for a sweetened drink. Photograph: iStock

 

In a recent passing conversation, someone said the words “milk jam doughnut” and time seemed to momentarily slow down for me. Milk jam? On a doughnut? I needed to know what milk jam was, and why I had never heard of it before, because it sounded incredible.

Milk jam is a thick, sweet, milky custard-like spread made of caramelised milk and sugar. You may know it as dulce de leche. It turns out milk jam can take many forms – coffee milk jam, manjar blanco in Spain, Japanese milk jam, Turkish milk jam and even bourbon milk jam.

Maillard reaction

Is there a difference between milk jam, dulce de leche and condensed milk? Dulce de leche, which is big in Latin America, is made by slowly heating milk sweetened with sugar until the Maillard reaction – the name for the chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars – transforms the sweetened milk into the dulce de leche, which is not unlike caramel. A version can be made with goats’ milk, in which it is called cajeta.

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Recipes for milk jam follow the same line. It’s a case of boiling or simmering milk with sugar and your chosen flavour – think vanilla, coffee and/or bourbon – cooking it to the point of your desired texture and taste. The longer the simmer, the more caramel-like the milk jam. A good little tip is that you can even use sour milk instead of throwing it out.

In the food hacks section of the Wonder How To website, they recommend adding a dollop of creme fraiche and a heap of sugar to counterbalance the soured milk. Blogger Adrianna Adarme from A Cozy Kitchen (acozykitchen.com) shares tips on her experience with homemade milk jam. “This recipe is as easy as can be. It may not seem like that in the beginning – the milk mixture does weird things, like go from white to light brown to dark, dark brown. It also foams up a bit – so be sure to use a big enough pot so it doesn’t boil over. But in the end, you’ll be met with a thick, jammy (in texture), caramely, milky-tasting treat.”

Condensed milk is essentially the processed version of milk jam. It’s milk that has been thickened and sweetened, sold in tins. It’s basically the starter ingredient of dulce de leche or milk jam, but it saves you from knowing just how much sugar is in that tasty, tasty milk.

Milk jam can be served on toast – if you’re in the business of living your best life, that is – or as a topping for ice cream, or adding to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for a sweetened drink. It’s a great dip for churros, or as a topping or filling for cakes and buns.

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