OK, here’s the easy recipe…buy a jar of dulce de leche at the grocery store, that’s it.
This is the first in a series of posts on making dulce de leche, and this will be the easiest of the three recipes. Dulce de leche isn’t really difficult to make, it’s just time consuming. The version I’m sharing today is the sweetened condensed dulce de leche. All you need is one can of sweetened condensed milk.
And, just in case there’s someone out there that isn’t familiar with dulce de leche, here’s a quick rundown:
Dulce de leche is a milk based sauce similar to caramel. But- it’s not really caramel. It’s made with cooked down milk and sugar. Caramel is basically sugar and water. However, describing dulce de leche as caramel is the best way I know to provide a point of reference. The translation of dulce de leche is “milk candy” or “sweet from milk.”
Just like the Alfajores, there are a variety of recipes for dulce de leche all over Latin America. Everyone either wants to take credit or believes their version is the best. Again, like I mentioned in the Alfajores post…it really doesn’t matter- they’re all good. I, for one, wouldn’t turn my nose up at any version of dulce de leche.
And with these different recipes, come different textures and flavors- pudding texture, caramel texture, firm like fudge, cinnamon flavored or made with sour milk…to name a few. Phew!
And, there are just as many names:
- Peru: Manjar Blanco
- Chile: Manjar
- Argentina/Uruguay: Dulce de leche
- Colombia: Arequipe
- Mexica: Cajeta (goats milk)
- Brazil: Doce de Leite
Just like most countries have some version of sweetened fried dough, many countries have a version of cooked down sweetened milk, whether from goat’s milk or cow’s milk. There are recipes from France, Norway, and India that are similar to the Latin dulce de leche.
One thing is for sure, regardless of the variations in taste and texture, dulce de leche is sweet, delicious and completely versatile. In Latin America, it is used in many typical desserts but it’s also been fused into “modern” desserts from cheesecakes to brownies.
Now, for this dulce de leche, I used the canned sweetened condensed milk method. Honestly, for me, this version is not as delicious as the milk-based recipe but it’s still great if you don’t have a lot of milk on hand.
Dulce de leche is like cold pizza…it’s always good, regardless of the recipe.
One important note about using the canned recipe: there are about eight different ways to make dulce de leche from a can. These methods range from using the stove top, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, the microwave. and a few more. I’m using the oven baked method. It’s pretty reliable and doesn’t require too much effort.
Here’s the step-by-step:
You’ll need a roasting pan, a pie plate or shallow baking pan and one can of sweetened condensed milk.
Empty the condensed milk into the pie plate.
Cover the pie plate with foil, make sure it’s tight and snug. Place the pie plate in the roasting pan and add water about halfway up the plate.
Place in a 425°F oven and bake for 1 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours. After 30 minutes of baking, some of the water will have evaporated. Just refill the roasting pan again to the halfway mark.
Once it’s done, carefully remove from the oven- and I mean carefully. I actually let it sit in the oven for a bit with the door open until it’s easier to handle.
Give it a really good whisking or use a hand mixer and beat well. If you find you have some clumps, pass the dulce de leche through a sieve and use a spatula to push the dulce through.
Here’s the finished product…
As is, it’s great for drizzling over ice cream, crepes, or anything you can think of.
If you want to use the dulce de leche as a cookie or cake filling, just thicken it with some cornstarch, about one to two tablespoon per cup. I sometimes omit this part when filling cookies and just let the dulce de leche spread down the sides- it makes for a mouth watering look.
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 425°F
- Empty the can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking pan or a pie plate.
- Cover pie plate with foil.
- Place pie plate in a roasting pan.
- Place the roasting pan with the pie plate on the middle rack of your oven.
- Create a water bath- add water to the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the pie plate.
- After one hour, add more water to the roasting pan, very carefully.
- Bake for 1 to 1½ hours.
- Check on the dulce de leche: use tongs to avoid getting burned. If light brown in color, you can take it out.
- Cool until easy to handle then whisk well. You can also use a hand mixer and beat until smooth.
- If lumps are noticeable, pass through a sieve. Use a spatula to press through.
Keep in refrigerator for up to one month.
To use for drizzling- reheat in microwave in 15 second increments until ready for drizzling.
To use for cookies- thicken with 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch for one cup dulce de leche.