Deep in the midst of January, I began to wonder what to do with the cans of condensed milk I had left over from my holiday baking. The answer turned out to be homemade dulce de leche. A simple internet search on what to do with leftover condensed milk conveniently revealed a can of sweetened condensed milk placed in a warm water bath overnight will result in homemade dulce de leche. I was one of those kids who had a chemistry set, so I thought the chance to turn condensed milk into caramel in my own kitchen sounded pretty cool.
I approached this project with a great deal of trepidation. Phrases like “molten caramel bath” and “shrapnel” were used by multiple sources to describe what would happen if a hot can under pressure was dropped or opened before fully cooled. I was so frightened, I spent a bit of time looking for a pair of safety goggles to wear before I removed my can of sweetened condensed milk from the crock pot. I couldn’t find the safety goggles, so I simply turned my head away, sucked in a breath, and hoped for the best. It turned out that making homemade dulce de leche was easy, and by using common sense, safe.
I cooked my can of condensed milk on low heat for eight hours and let the can sit in the cooling water bath one additional hour until I could remove it by hand. A deeper caramel can be obtained by cooking the sweetened condensed milk for an additional one to two hours. I was so happy to have found a solution to my leftover condensed milk problem that I overlooked what turned into a dulce de leche problem. What exactly should I do with this sweet, caramel substance?
Since my internet sleuthing suggested dulce de leche is crazy popular in Argentina, I asked a friend from work who has spent a significant amount of time in Argentina for suggestions. Her advice was to use the dulce de leche like I would use Nutella. She and her family members spread dulce de leche on toast and stir it into coffee. She also suggested making a traditional Argentinian dessert, mil hojas, which is layers of thin pastry and dulce de leche. So far, I have added it to ice cream. We’ll see where things go. Enjoy!
Dulce de Leche
- 1 or more cans sweetened condensed milk
- aluminum foil
- crock pot
- Line the bottom of a crock pot with aluminum foil.
- Place one or more cans of sweetened condensed milk in the crock pot and cover the cans with water.
- Place the lid on the crock pot, turn heat to low, and allow to sit for eight hours.
- Turn off the heat, remove the lid from the crock pot, and use tongs wrapped with rubber bands to very carefully remove the can(s). You can also allow the water to cool to room temperature before placing your hand in the water and removing the can(s).
- Allow the can(s) to cool to room temperature before opening.