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.
If you put the UNOPENED can of Sweetened Condensed Milk into a pan of water and simmer it for about an 1 1/2 hours you will get the same result. Make sure you do not open the can until it has cooled, otherwise the milk might splatter and burn your skin.This is how we do it in England. No, the can will NOT explode.
Oh, this is sooo good and ANYONE could do it! Thanks for another 5 pounds……
I did the cans on the stove a couple of years ago. No problems with explosion but it tasted awful.Found the labels in the trash-I had used evaporated milk by mistake. So I bought some sweetened condensed milk and made it in the crock pot. So good. Easy to eat way too much. I wonder how it would work to put it in a covered bowl in the crock pot-maybe with a little water.
@Darlene: I would love to have your recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk. Since the powers that be have decided not to ban BPA in food and drink containers,as much as possible I’m avoiding cans.
So this looks so delicious… I’m thinking on top of a scoop on top of vanilla ice cream (possibly on top of an ooey gooey brownie)
But it is just my husband and I and as much as I would love to eat an entire can of sweetened condensed milk by myself (caramelized or not) I don’t think we will finish it in one sitting. You said it can be refrigerated and it will thicken… after you put it in the fridge could you pull it out and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds like those little jars of hot fudge and caramel?
Similar to Kim’s experience, when we lived in Las Vegas my stored can of sweetened condensed milk carmelized and I thought it had gone bad so I threw it out. I had no idea this was a desireable product. (I must have lived under a rock too, or in an oven!). The next time it happened, I smelled it, tasted it, then threw it into the recipe anyway – and it turned out great!
I may add… DULCE DE LECHE, is an ARGENTINIAN invent, …You may notice that the name is in spanish, not portuguese…
So..my family and I have had the Horrible Plague for the last week, one will be half way thru it then another one gets it, now baby girl has it. The only thing that I have eaten in the last 2 days is jello. So, I’m looking thru my blog files to find an easy soup recipe that doesn’t require much manpower, and I see this post. No soup for my family, yet, but dulce de leche is in the oven. I hope it makes the plague go away!
You girls are amazing.
Yay! I have a bunch of leftover sweetened condensed milk and this will make for some happy mouths tomorrow!
This looks delicious! This is my first time visiting your blog and I must say it is adorable. I was wondering if you had a certain recipe that I have been searching for and craving for years now. I visited Brazil in 2001 and had the most amazing tapioca pancake thingy. We were visiting Olinda, Brazil and there was a vendor selling these tapioca things. They were almost like tapioca tortillas with coconut and condensed milk on them. Any ideas? I would love to be able to make these at home. Thanks for your help! Love the site!
I just made some tonight to see how well it works and I was amazed. As a single man in college I appreciate foods that sound like they would be hard to pull off but are really easy. They tend to impress the fairer sex with minimal effort. (Don't tell on me)
And yes, ice cold apples and piping hot dulce de leche is all kinds of awesome. Too bad the it cancels out the nutritional benefits of the apples.
This isn't the only disgustingly decadent desert made with only sweetened condensed milk I've seen. (Triple Alliteration)
Try boiling a can of it (unopened) for 20 minutes and then chilling it. If it worked when you open it, you should have a custard like cylinder that you can slice and serve with a berry topping or something like that.
Katie that's super weird! Your oven temp is correct? I wonder if it was the brand of milk- did you use generic? I'm not sure what else to tell you, I've never had that problem!
I tried this, and after 2 hours it was only slightly carmelized. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong. I just might have to brave the 15 degree weather to go get the ready made stuff at walmart.
Easy Peasy! I tried the oven method using fat-free sweetened condensed milk. (thats 2 pts/2 TBSP for all you WWs out there) It was DEEELISH! I dipped apples in it, but I'm thinking drizzled on hot popcorn would be sooo good!
Shannon- I'm not an expert canner, so I really don't know the answer to that!
Toni- Oh NO! See, that's why they don't recommend that, I'm glad no one was hurt!
Jaime- It's never really recommended to heat stuff in the can, but since you're the crock pot is at such a low heat, it's pretty safe. I can't tell you there's no risk of explosion though, because I don't know!
Emy- I really do need to post some pressure cooker recipes, I love mine!
Toni M- Just store in the fridge- you can warm it up in the microwave and just whisk until smooth.
Hmmmm…this is interesting…
I did the stove top method last spring for my sons geography project, no problems. Yesterday I did the crockpot method. I have a mini crockpot that fits one can perfectly. Worked great, yummy, yummy, yummy.
For those in Texas…during the summer months, simply place an unopened can in your garage one night…open the next. Voilà!
I use the crockpot method, and make a pie with it. SO easy and perfect for the holidays.
If I wanted to make this in advance for a birthday party, how would you reheat it so the mixture is not thick and still tastes just as wonderful?