I wonder perhaps the reason why I don’t cook more often than I do is actually because I’m surrounded by too many wonderful recipes and ideas in the form of cooking mags, books and other people’s amazing blogs. I sometimes can’t bear to buy newly released magazines with luscious food porn or watch cooking shows because they literally do my head in. It’s so overwhelming thinking of the possibilities!
This is totally counterproductive for a food blogger of course, so I decided last month that I would select a few recipes each month that I definitely must complete and blog about it to help me slowly get out of this culinary rut. So I leafed through some of my Lettuce Club magazines (a popular Japanese cooking mag) the other day and came across an intriguing recipe for milk jam. I then made a concerted effort to actually make this rather than make a mental note to make it ‘some day’.
On doing a bit of investigating online, I found most milk jam recipes in English were more or less for Confiture de lait, which isn’t quite what the Japanese seem to define as milk jam. Confiture de lait (and dulce de leche) involves the caramelisation of milk and sugar whereas milk jam seems similar to the production of condensed milk albeit reduced down further to become stickier but before becoming caramel in colour or taste.
It took me three goes before reaping something that looked remotely like the milk jam appearing in my Lettuce Club magazine and on this blog. I finally worked out that the problem lay in time, or rather, that there are many variables that will alter the time it takes to make milk jam. The magazine recipe vaguely says to cook the milk and sugar for 15 minutes on low heat before adding the cream and cooking until small bubbles appear, and the blog’s recipe calls for the milk, cream and sugar to be cooked together for 30 minutes.
As I finally discovered, milk jam will take as long as it takes to become milk jam! There’s also no need to be overly cautious during the process as the magazine recipe suggested. I left my milk jam alone for a couple of minutes at a time, giving it a stir on each look in. I used a heavy based copper saucepan and mainly low heat but I amped it up occasionally to get thing bubbling before putting it back down to a low temp. Eventually the water content dissipates and you’re left with a mixture that is syrupy and bubbles happily.
And the Graham Crackers, you ask? They’re just something I wanted to make when I came across a recipe for these snappy treats in the Kindle version of One Girl Cookies. I made mine a little less sweet and added a touch more salt. Works rather nicely with the sweet, sweet milk jam :)
Malted Milk Jam
(makes a small jar)
100ml cream (for whipping)
125ml whole milk
one heaped tsp of malt powder (malted milk powder is fine)
To Make: Place first three ingredients into a good quality saucepan that disperses heat evenly as I imagine saucepans that have hot spots will indeed cause the milk to burn. Place the saucepan on low heat and allow sugar to dissolve. Stir with wooden spoon occasionally. Continue cooking on low heat, removing any froth that accumulates from time to time. If you’re not seeing any bubbles, increase heat a little until you achieve a low simmer. As the mixture reduces, adjust the heat accordingly. You know you are getting close to getting milk jam when a quick stir of the mixture causes it to bubble up enthusiastically. If you’re happy to have a softer jam, add the malted milk powder, stir through and transfer to a sterilised jar (for longer shelf life) or any glass container if you can see yourself consuming this lovely concoction within a week. You can let the mixture cook for a little longer for a sticker, caramel-like jam.
1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar (full 1/4 is fine if you want a sweet graham cracker)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of baking soda
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
To Make: Combine dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add a third of the dry ingredients with 2 tbsp of water to the creamed butter and sugar. Blitz to combine if using a food processor or Thermomix. Add another third with another 2 tbsp of water and mix well again. Add final third of dry ingredients and mix well. If the dough is like dry crumbs but can be pressed together and moulded like playdough, it’s done. If too sticky, add a tbsp of flour until the crumb effect is achieved. If too dry, add a tsp of water and combine again.
Place dough out onto a piece of baking paper and knead into a ball. Place another sheet of paper over the dough then use a rolling pin to flatten out to a thickness of .5cm. Allow to cool in fridge for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 165C.
Once dough is cold, cut into even squares or rectangles. Leftover dough can be recombined and flattened out to make more crackers. Place on a baking tray using the same baking paper it has been on and bake for 20 minutes, turning after the first 10 minutes for even baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before moving to a rack to cool further.