A tall, somewhat gooey but still elegant dessert like this is just the thing at a buffet. The ultrasweetness of the dulce de leche is tempered by the crepes, and the little bit of toasted pecans sprinkled between the layers adds a nutty crunch that goes nicely with the dulce. As for the dulce de leche: This is the way home cooks have been making it forever, but the people who make sweetened condensed milk won’t go on record as endorsing this method for one very simple reason: if you let the water in the pot boil off so the can (or cans) of condensed milk rests on the bottom of the empty pan, it can heat to the point where the can explodes. Imagine the mess, not to mention the danger! So while you don’t have to sit and stare at the pot the whole time the condensed milk is cooking, you do have to be sure to start with a large pot, use plenty of water, and check every 20 minutes or so to make sure the cans are still covered by water. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
- Yield: 12 Servings buffet
- Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
- Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk or 1½ cups store-bought dulce de leche
- Twelve 7- to 8-inch crepes, homemade or store-bought
- 2/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans, plus pecan halves, for garnish
- Confectioners’ sugar
Make the Dulce De Leche
- If starting with condensed milk, Remove as much of the label from the cans as you can. (This won’t affect the finished dulce de leche; it just makes things a little neater.) Put the cans in a large (at least 6-quart) pot and pour in enough water to almost fill the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then adjust the heat so the water is simmering. Cook for exactly 3 hours from the time the water comes to a boil; check often, and top up the water every 20 to 30 minutes. The level of the water must never dip below the tops of the cans! After 3 hours, turn off the heat and let the cans stand in the water for 1 hour.
- Remove the cans from the water and let cool to room temperature. Do not attempt to open the cans while they are still hot.
- Open the cans and scrape the dulce de leche into a bowl. Whisk it well to loosen up the texture a little.