Wow! All this talk about dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche is the number one choice for fillings in cakes and other desserts in South America, and everyone makes it from scratch, the 3-hour way.
It's sold at markets and on the streets in plastic containers. People eat it by the spoonful, and when they get home hours later, they would put it in the fridge, but nobody rushes to do it.
We even have these dulce de leche candies, made with condensed milk, egg yolks, maybe brandy, cloves, butter, cinnamon, and powdered sugar, barely cooked over a bain marie, made into a paste, then taken out and rolled into little balls; kept at room temperature. They're sold as homemade candy, and they're on every child's birthday party. I have a container since June brought by friends. It should last me till Christmas!
(I know it's in Spanish, but really, I'm not making it up!)
In my country, they do not put eggs in the fridge either. I still worry about leaving egg whites out here, "aging" for macaronsbut sometimes I think "the French do it, so it must be OK."? lol
Maybe VPJane has this kind of experience. I don't judge. A friend in NZ told me that the most famous cupcakery there sells cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, at room temperature, shelf-stable, no preservatives. I was horrified, but again, maybe they have their own rules there.
Good thing I don't sell cakes. I would go crazy with worry now.
Ellawillow, do you have 3 hours? You should try the real thing.