Tamara Palmer on Craftsman and Wolves
Confiture au lait, or candied milk jam, is the French take on dulce de leche, though the former uses whole instead of condensed milk as the basis for a slowly simmering caramel sauce.
"Confiture au lait is rather common in France," says chef William Werner, who sells both café au lait and matcha varieties at Craftsman and Wolves. "I felt, however, the idea of 'milk jam' to most consumers in the states would not go over well. I looked to make a connection that would not sacrifice flavor or product identity, but would allow the average joe to find it approachable: thus, confiture café au lait. Milk and coffee are pretty approachable, and once you're told you can put the two on your morning toast or pour over waffles? Ding, ding, ding! Winner!"
Candied milk jam was one of the secret weapons that helped Yigit Pura win the first season of Top Chef Just Desserts; host Gail Simmons declared that she'd like to take a bath in it. Pura now offers a version of his candied milk jam with vanilla cognac at his new Tout Sweet Patisserie in Macy's Union Square.
"Milk Jam is like dulce de leche's fancy French cousin," says Pura. "I've developed my version to complement flavors of my cakes and sweets. But, truth be told, at home I eat it straight out of the jar."
Pura is right; these are good simply on a spoon or a finger. Might as well mainline it, if possible. Milk jam stands on its own and makes something outrageous out of a piece of fruit or scoop of ice cream.
Keep an eye on the proliferation of this product. Where two of the city's leading pastry chefs tread, others will follow.