Dulce De leche, or “MIlK CANDY,” IS A Decadent South American dessert spread, made by cooking sweetened condensed milk until it achieves a jam-like consistency.
The caramel flavored spread can be used in a myriad of baked-goods and sweets. Use it as a filling or glaze for cakes and pastries, a dipping sauce for churros, as an ice cream topping or even to make dulce de leche ice cream. it is so good you may even find yourself eating it straight from the container! (We assume no responsibility.)
Here are three methods for making your own dulce de leche, and a delicious dessert recipe you should try, Dulce De Leche Torte.
4 cups whole milk
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 (14-16 ounce) can or jar of sweetened condensed milk
Pressure Cooker Method
1 (14-16 ounce) can or jar of sweetened condensed milk, with no dents or scratches on the can. The can with a pop-top is fine.
5-quart or greater pressure cooker
The exact origins of dulce de leche may be unknown but this is surely the original method for preparing it. Low heat and hours of stirring will yield a home-made product that you can serve with pride.
1. Put milk and sugar in a 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Cook the mixture until it is a deep caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup. This can take between 1½ to 2 hours.
3. Strain the warm mixture through a mesh strainer. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one month.
This hands-off method combines the convenience of canned sweetened condensed milk with your oven to make the process of making dulce de leche considerably easier.
1. Set your oven to 425℉.
2. Pour the contents of the can into a pie plate. Don’t use a disposable pie plate for this; the solidity of the pan is important when you try and move a pan full of liquid. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Find a roasting pan large enough to hold the pie plate. I used a disposable 9”x13” aluminum pan, because I needed to bend the sides slightly. (You won’t be moving this pan, so disposable is fine.) Open the preheated oven and extend the center shelf. Place the roasting pan on the shelf. Carefully place the pie plate into the roasting pan. Pour warm tap water around the pie plate, into the roasting pan, until it has come ½ to ¾ of the way up the sides of the pie plate. Carefully push the rack back into the oven and close the oven door.
3. Bake for 1½ hours, checking periodically that the water has not evaporated. Add more warm water as needed. Carefully pull out the shelf and remove the pie plate. Open the foil, being careful for any rising steam.
4. Using a fork, whisk the dulce de leche until smooth. If you like the level of caramelization, you can stop now, refrigerate and store the dulce de leche, as above. If you like a darker product, you can reseal the foil and carefully return the pan to the water bath for as much as 1½ hours more. Make sure that there is always water around the pie plate.
Pressure Cooker Method
This is my method of choice. If you have a pressure cooker (and every kitchen should have one), you’ll love it. There are no pots to clean afterwards, and the finished dulce de leche can be stored in your pantry until it’s needed!
While cooking, the can of milk cannot be allowed to touch the bottom of the pressure cooker. Most cookers come with some kind of rack to raise food off of the bottom of the pot. I use a folding vegetable steamer (the kind that looks like a satellite dish), placed on the top of the rack.
1. Remove the paper label from the can, and lay the can down on its side in the steamer. Fill the pot with water to cover the can, making sure not to exceed the water level recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Following the instructions for your model of pressure cooker, turn on the heat and bring the pot to full pressure (15psi if you have a pressure gauge). Cook at full pressure for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool overnight. Do not try to open the pot or release the pressure. Do not cool the pot down by running water over it. Move the pot gently only if necessary. The pressure will release gradually as it cools. The next day, open the pot and take out the cooled can. Dry it off and use immediately or label it and place it back in your pantry.
4. The finished product will be especially dark and thick. If it is too thick for your recipe, then warm it slightly and stir in milk by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached, prior to use.