As you all know by now, I fell in love with a lot of culinary-related things while living in Brazil. Black beans, pressure cooking, limonada, mangoes, and churrasco to name a few. Well add this to the list. Sweetened condensed milk is used for a lot of things there. While here in the US we use it more as a recipe ingredient, in most parts of South America it’s used more as a condiment, drizzled over fruit for dessert or stirred into lime juice for our favorite drink ever. Dulce de Leche is just caramelized sweetened condensed milk (no wonder it’s so good, right?!) and it’s super easy to make. Oh ya, and it tastes like heaven.
Now, in Brazil people generally pop the sealed can of sweetened condensed milk in a pressure cooker. You can also simmer the whole can in water for about 3 hours and let it cool completely. Those methods work, and I’ve done them before but I’m telling you right now that it’s not recommended- got it? I have to make that clear so that when someone tries it and it blows up in their face they don’t come throw cans of sweetened condensed milk in my windows late at night with angry notes attached.
Instead I’m going to show you a super easy (and pretty quick) method in the oven. See my note at the end of this post about crock pot instructions as well.
The best part? It only requires *one* ingredient:
Just pour a can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow dish- a pie plate works great. You’ll need to make a water bath, so now set the dish inside of a larger dish. I’m using a roasting pan. Cover your pie plate tightly with aluminum foil. If you fail to cover the dish, you’ll get a thick skin over your milk and it won’t caramelize. I’ve forgot this step once- don’t make the same mistake!
Fill the larger pan (the roasting pan in my pictures) with water until it reaches about half way up the side of the pan containing the sweetened condensed milk. Bake for about an hour and then carefully peek under the foil. If it is not yet a caramely brown color, then let it bake a little longer. It can sometimes take up to an hour and 20 minutes or so.
Use a spoon or whisk to stir until smooth. Oh my deliciousness…
Now you can cool it and store in the fridge, where it will develop a thicker consistency, or use it warm. One of my favorite things to do is dip fresh, crisp apples in it.
I actually love really cold apples with warm dulce de leche. mmmm…
Or you can use it in any recipe that calls for dulce de leche. If you want to simply eat it, try it as a fruit dip, spread on bread, crackers, or cookies, or on top of ice cream.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish, such as a pie plate. Cover very tightly with foil making sure all sides are covered and sealed. Place baking dish in a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Fill larger pan with hot water until water level reaches about half way up the baking dish. Cook for about 60 minutes and then check. Color should be a rich caramel brown. Continue cooking if necessary, checking every 15 minutes. Can take up to 90 minutes or more to reach proper level of doneness. When a medium caramel color is reached, remove from oven and let cool. Whisk until smooth, store in fridge.
Try it as a fruit dip, spread on bread, crackers, or cookies, on top of ice cream, as a filling for cupcakes, swirled into frosting or hot chocolate, or simply straight off the spoon. It’s especially good with cold, crisp apple slices.
Crock Pot Instructions: Place 1-3 sealed cans of sweetened condensed milk in slow cooker. Place enough water in slow cooker to completely cover cans by 1 inch. Cook on low for about 8 hours. Let cans cool completely before opening.