Archive for: sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened condensed milk is a product where there usually aren’t too many choices between different brands in the grocery store. You might find yourself grabbing whatever brand is on the shelf when you need some, but there are differences between brands and Cook’s Country Magazine decided to give them a taste test in their Dec/Jan 2013 issue. They tasted four different brands, looking to see which had the best taste on its own and which held up best in recipes, particularly a flan recipe that they were featuring in that same issue.
The winner was Borden Eagle Brand, one of the most widely available brands of sweetened condensed milk. Tasters found that this milk wasn’t too exciting on its own, but it worked great in recipes and gave a consistently smooth, velvety finish to flan. Nestle Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk also received a “Recommended” designation, thanks to the buttery caramel notes that the sweetened condensed milk had straight out of the can. Both of these brands only contain sugar and milk in their ingredient lists.
Two brands received “Recommended with Reservations” marks, the Parrot Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and Meadow Gold Sweetened Condensed Milk (I will note here that I have never seen either of these brands in stores near me, though I have seen quite a few “organic” sweetened condensed milks that were not rated here). Parrot Brand was deemed to be “greasy” by taste testers and contained soybean oil in addition to milk. Meadow Gold is another sugar and milk product, but was runnier than the other milks and resulted in a looser set when used in flan, so it might not be idea for baking.
Sweetened condensed milk is a versatile ingredient with a great flavor profile. You’ll typically find it sweetening coffee drinks and used in custardy desserts, such as ice cream and key lime pie. One place you wouldn’t expect to find it is in a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, but that is exactly where it is in these Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies. The sweetened condensed milk replaces both sugar and eggs in this cookie recipe, and you would never guess that the cookie is made with such a unique dough when tasting the finished product.
The cookie dough uses a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and flour to give it substance, and that mixture is combined with sweetened condensed milk and butter to form the base of the dough. The dough is fairly wet, but includes shredded coconut, chocolate chips and chopped walnuts and all of those mix-ins give the cookies a little extra body. I added both cinnamon and vanilla extract, to bump up the flavor in these cookies, as well as a little salt to balance out the sweetness of the milk. The finished cookies have a great flavor that blends a hint of graham cracker with cinnamon and coconut. They’re very chewy cookies, and the rich chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts add some nice texture to them.
I found the original recipe on an old magazine ad for Eagle Brand – and no memory of clipping it out at all – from the mid-90s, and only changed it by added cinnamon, vanilla and salt to the same dough. Why these are called treasure cookies, I can’t say, except that the magazine clipping that I found my recipe on (it is also on the Eagle Brand website) has a neat pirate map printed on it and the cookie is clearly where X marks the spot! The name is cute and the cookies are tasty, so a name with a little bit of mystery just serves to make these a little more interesting – even though it might be easier to call them Chocolate Chip Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies. Be sure not to overbake these, as the cookies can get a little hard if they are baked too long. It is best to take them out when they are just lightly brown, and let them set up on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Millionaire’s Shortbread is a three-layered dessert, with a shortbread base, a caramel center and a chocolate topping. The bars are popular in the UK and in Canada, but are not as well known here in the US. This is something that I’d like to change because these very tasty bars are delicious and well worth every bit of effort that goes into putting them together (and they’re easier to make than they look!).
The shortbread crust is made with butter, brown sugar, flour and salt. It is pressed into a large baking pan and baked until golden brown and crisp. After the crust has cooled, a caramel layer that uses a lot of sweetened condensed milk and butter is prepared and poured on top. The caramel layer definitely has a buttery, caramel flavor to it, but it is a thick, tender layer and is slightly reminiscent of vanilla pudding because of all the condensed milk in it, rather than straight caramel. This layer is also cooled before adding the final layer of chocolate.
My Millionaire’s Shortbread is a little different from most that I’ve seen because I like to use chocolate ganache instead of using straight melted chocolate to top the bars. Straight melted chocolate ends up being a little crisper as a top layer, but I think that a richer ganache blends a bit better with the sweetened condensed milk filling. It is also much easier to slice through, and you don’t need to worry about tempering it to keep your bars looking beautiful.
These bars are good when served at room temperature but are also quite good cold. I definitely recommend storing them, covered, in the fridge on a warm day or when you simply want them to last a little bit longer.
Sweetened condensed milk is evaporated milk that has a significant amount of sugar added back to it to make a very thick, sweet product that is often used in ice creams, pies and other creamy desserts. It comes in full fat, low fat and fat free varieties. Most recipes simply call for sweetened condensed milk and are usually designed to work with the full fat product, but since sweetened condensed milk is fairly high in fat and calories, a lot of bakers and cooks wonder about substituting in the low fat or fat free version.
When it comes to baking, there is a difference in using full fat, low fat and skim milk because even a small amount of added fat from the milk can really increase the moistness and tenderness of the finished product. Sugar also does this. Sweetened condensed milk and its lower fat counterparts are very similar in consistency, and all of them still have a very high amount of sugar and that extra-creamy texture. That richness and high sugar content will keep baked goods made even with fat free sweetened condensed milk moist and tender. It is also primarily used in custards or other creamy dishes, rather than in cake and muffin recipes, where the creaminess and sweetness of the milk, rather than the fat content, are the most important elements. Because of these factors, sweetened condensed milk is generally a good candidate for lower fat substitutions in recipes that call for a full fat product, as you’ll still get the same (or darn close to the original) result.
In ice creams, puddings and bar cookie recipes, I’ve always had great results using lower fat sweetened condensed milk. Fat free sweetened condensed milk will thicken when an acid – such as lime juice – is added to it, just as the full-fat variety will, so it works well in fillings for key lime and other pies. I will also use it in Thai iced tea or iced coffee for a slightly lower fat (but still sweet!) drink.