I'm not a foodie at all, but everything I ate during my first, recent, won't-be-the-last trip to Costa Rica was tasty, satisfying, and flavorful.
The huge platters of traditional arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) were exactly what we needed after strenuous days of hiking.
Since I love sweets I was most thrilled to be able to try out local dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche is a classic Latin American sweet that is similar to caramel, but it is far more rich and flavorful than the typical grocery store jar of sauce that you buy in the ice cream aisle. It's used as a spread for toast or pancakes as well as a filling for cookies and pastries.
But what I really love to do with dulce de leche is simply put a nice big spoonful in my coffee. While flavored creamers that you find in the dairy case can be *too* overly sweet and taste unnatural, dulce de leche adds sweetness and a delicious richness without being overbearing.
Just like my Simple Amazing Homemade Whipped Cream recipe, I really think once you try this, you won't want to go back to commercial flavored creamers. And yes, this would be the PERFECT caramel sauce to use in the Caramel Coffee Recipe I shared.
Latin American countries all seem to have their own recipes for dulce de leche, and I found several that are popular in Costa Rica. I'll add additional options as I try them out! So far I've very happily cooked up the very simplest recipe... it involves simply caramelizing sweetened condensed milk, as follows.
As with all of the recipes I choose to share, this takes a little more time and effort than opening up the dairy case and grabbing a bottle of sugary flavored creamer. But cost-wise, you'll come out ahead with this recipe, and the flavor is far superior. Avoiding preservatives and other chemicals in processed creamers (which often aren't "cream" at all) is a bonus too!
And also, I think there is something to be gained from slowing down, enjoying the process and the experience. Some mornings are busy and you have to gulp down a cup of gas station coffee as you fight traffic to work. I get that. But some mornings give you the gift of time stretched out in front of you with nothing to do. On those days, consider enjoying a 'special' coffee with rich homemade additions. It's worth it!
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