Dulce de leche is just one of those “things” in life you have to experience to really understand.
I think the same might be true of sopapillas as well.
Especially as a kid at Casa Bonita in Denver – yes, all you Coloradoans know exactly what I’m talking about.
The food is atrocious, even the sopapillas, but the experience is life-changing…for an eight year old child, anyway.
So, if you’ve never been to Casa Bonita in Denver, you must. Cliff diving, haunted caves, piñatas, and horrible food – but great memories.
And, you must try this homemade dulce de leche and “faux” sopapilla dessert pie combination regardless of whether or not you make it to my childhood neck of the woods.
A sopaipilla, sopapilla, sopaipa, or cachanga is a kind of fried pastry and a type of quick bread served in several regions with Spanish heritage in the Americas. The word sopaipilla is the diminutive of sopaipa, a word that entered Spanish from the Mozarabic language of Al-Andalus. The original Mozarabic word Xopaipa was used to mean bread soaked in oil, and derived in turn from the Germanic word suppa which meant bread soaked in liquid.
A sopaipilla is traditionally made from leavened wheat dough (or a mixture of wheat flour and masa harina) to which some shortening or butter is added. After being allowed to rise, the dough is rolled into a sheet that is then cut into circular, square or triangular shapes. The shapes are 8–10 cm in size for the longest dimension (if intended for a dessert) or 15–20 cm (if intended to be stuffed for a main course). The shapes are then deep-fried in oil, sometimes after allowing them to rise further before frying: the frying causes the shapes to puff up, ideally forming a hollow pocket in the center.
Dulce de leche (pronounced: [ˈdulθe ðe ˈletʃe] in Spain; pronounced: [ˈdulse ðe ˈletʃe] in Latin America; Portuguese: doce de leite [ˈdosi dʒi ˈlejtʃi] in Brazil or [ˈdosɨ dɨ ˈlejtɨ] in Portugal) is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a substance that derives its taste from the Maillard reaction, changing flavour and colour. Literally translated, it means “candy [made] of milk” or “sweet [made] of milk.” Its origin is a highly debated topic and it is popular in most Latin American countries.
By the way, the “Maillard reaction” is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Think caramelized onions, seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods. YUM!!
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Sopapilla Pie
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled out
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 oz. Alter Eco Dark Salted Brown Butter Chocolate bar, melted
Create one or two small openings in the metal can (label removed) of the sweetened condensed milk.
Place in a medium pot of water and bring to a simmer. Cook (barely simmering) for 1-2 hours – until the milk begins to caramelize and congeal. THIS is dulce de leche!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a deep dish pie plate with the rolled out puff pastry. Flute the edges to your decorative pleasing.
Bake with pie weights (or ramekins to weight down the crust – in my case – if you don’t happen to have any pie weights or beans) for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, beat together the dulce de leche, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla until soft, sleek, and smooth.
Pour into the cooled crust.
Allow to cool again for at least 30 minutes.
Dot with melted chocolate and swirl with a toothpick.
Chill for at least 4-6 hours before slicing.