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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holy Long Recipe, Batman! (Confiture de Lait)

Remember a few years ago when I went to the Fancy Food Show with my lovely French, food-blogging friend Vanessa? And how she introduced me to confiture de lait, a.k.a. milk jam, a caramel sauce made from milk that is a specialty item from Normandy? And how my life was never the same because from that moment on I knew milk jam existed but had no way to actually buy it? You don’t remember? Well, trust me. It’s all true.

You may be wondering even after my roundabout description above, what the heck is milk jam? It’s just that…a jam of sorts made from milk and sugar. It’s kind of like sophisticated sweetened condensed milk. And it’s heavenly.

Since you can’t buy it in the States, I decided to make confiture de lait myself once. And I failed. Miserably. This past month, however, I felt like I needed to give it another try, maybe using a slower cooking technique. I followed this recipe for confiture de lait exactly because it looked like it would turn out very nicely. I had a day where I was going to be home all morning and doing a bunch of other cooking anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I started cooking the milk around 9 am, it would be done by the time I had to pick kids up at school at 2 pm. No problem. Easy peasy.

Yeah, not so much.

ELEVEN hours later I had a small pot of confiture de lait. Yes, you heard me. Eleven. I picked Anna up at school then rushed home to stir. I picked Cate up at school then rushed home to stir. I dropped the girls off at dance then rushed home to stir. I picked up the girls from dance then…you guessed it…rushed home to stir. It was bananas, people. Bananas.

So, was it worth it? Nope. It wasn’t. My milk jam just wasn’t the same as the stuff from Normandy. Mine is still good, but just not the same. And, to top it all off, once I refrigerated the confiture de lait after it had cooled, I ended up with a giant, hard, sugary lump of milk jam in the center of the container. Only half of the batch ended up being useable. Quel horreur!

It’s story-sharing time! Tell us about the most time- or work-intensive recipe you’ve ever made. And tell us if it was worth all that time, labor and love. And, if it was worth it, please share the recipe because it must be amazing!


  1. 1

    Apple butter…hours and hours and hours in the oven, and it tasted quite yummy but exactly the same as any jar you can buy in about 2 minutes 🙂

  2. Oh man Jane. I dream about that confiture de lait. Dream about it! But your story of the epic fail is inspiring me to try to make it too. We must succeed!

    So what about this year’s Fancy Food? I’m thinking of flying over for it. I’d bring the baby and leave her with my sister for the day… are you going to go? Shall we go find those French jam makers and get their secrets?

    • Jane Maynard

      I was hoping you would comment and say, “jane, THIS is the recipe you should use and it will come out perfectly!” but I’m still expecting you to figure it out and show me the way 🙂

      stay tuned about FFS in january…I may have some news for you but have to wait just a bit…

  3. 3
    Patty B

    I made homemade marshmallows a couple years ago, and, while they were tasty, I just couldn’t justify the time, effort, and mess to make something I could pick up for $0.99…
    Bragging rights, though – – I did gain bragging rights!

    • Jane Maynard

      I’ve made homemade marshmallows a few times…they are pretty awesome, but, while I say they were easy, I’m never saying to myself, “let’s whip up some marshmallows” 😉

      TOTAL bragging rights, btw. for sure. 🙂

  4. I made gnocchi from scratch — twice (didn’t learn my lesson the first time). Both times, after hours in the kitchen roasting and ricing potatoes, making the dough, letting it rest, rolling it, etc., I ended up with little pucks of what tasted like Elmer’s Glue. Neeeevvvverrrr again!!

    • Jane Maynard

      ha ha! loved that you did it twice (sounds like me!)…and I think maybe I won’t try gnocchi! 😉

  5. 5

    Tiramisu…from scratch. Making the lady fingers, the zabaione, fresh espresso…the whole kit and kaboodle! It turned out yummo..but with 5 kids, very labor intensive. Its one of my favs…up there with creme brulee and bread pudding!

  6. 6

    Bottling pears and freezing fresh corn… Glad I know how to do it BUT never again if I have my way!

  7. 7

    Is it similar to like a dulce de leche? There’s this stuff my grandmother always brought home with her when she visited Mexico called “cajeta” which looks similar, and actually is a sort of cooked condensed milk. I’m pretty sure they sell it here in some Latin markets. It’s delicious and dan.ger.ous. We used to spread it on toast.

    • Jane Maynard

      yep, it is very similar…I know there’s a difference, can’t remember it now, and it’s subtle! 🙂

    • Hello,
      The difference is Dulce de leche does not contain vanilla, where as Confiture de lait does. I also understand that Dulce de leche tends to have a thicker consistency. Hope this helps.

  8. 8

    In an effort to impress my Italian husband (we were newly married) I attempted to make pandoro for Christmas…a traditional Italian yeast cake…all I remember is it took me all day to make it and the result was inedible…I still have the pan, maybe I should try again…or not.

  9. The first time I moved to Sweden I really wanted to impress my now husband and told him for a recipe I was making I need soy sauce, expecting the Japanese style soy sauce I had grown up with. So he goes to work and I prepare this dinner for when he gets home, turns out in Sweden they have this really concentrated sauce called soy sauce but it was not what I was used to so by the time he came home for dinner the noodles were black from the sauce and totally inedible!

  10. 11 Hours!!! Oh no, dear, NO! That is ridiculous and no doubt very expensive fuel and time wise. There is a far easier recipe you can try. Instead of using whole milk try condensed milk. You only need a small tin and it’s all done in about 30-45mins. Oh and maybe a bike, as this stuff is very yummy, but heavy on calories 🙂 Here’s the recipe link, enjoy 🙂

    • Jane Maynard

      I really wanted to do milk jam from scratch – straight up from milk – but I think next time I’m totally biting the bullet and using sweetened condensed milk! 🙂 thanks for the recipe!!

  11. 11

    I think you cooked it to long and that is why it came out hard. I just doubled it and got it done in less then 3 hours. mine isn’t dark caramel color though. Cooled mine is a syrupy/jam like consistency. Like the carmel sauce that comes in a jar near the ice cream. But it tastes sooo much better. I mixed some with milk and it is sooo good as a drink.

    • Jane Maynard

      hi tash! this is actually the consistency of the confiture de lait that I had from the french guy – it was more of a spread and I loved the texture. the only difference from mine is that mine still had some graininess, which was such a bummer! but I’m sure that the one you made tastes just as heavenly and delicious, whether it’s syrup or thicker! it is amazing how much better the taste is than caramel you’d buy at the store, right? SO YUM.

      And, adding it to milk, genius! 🙂

  12. 12
    confiture de lait

    The recipe your linked to is simply wrong. you should use a mix of castor sugar and icing sugar if you want this to work out

  13. 13

    I only cooked mine for 2 hours, but it came out hard and crystalized by the time it cooled. I’d love to know if there’s a better recipe out there and any guidance on how hot to cook it? I’m thinking that maybe I cooked it too fast which is why the sugar crystalized??

    • yes, I think the cooking it slow is how you prevent crystallization – I found that with my hot fudge recipe as well. when I slowed down the cooking with much lower temps, it stopped crystallizing.

      we need to find the perfect recipe!

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