Homemade Dulce De Leche

 Recipe from What's For Lunch, Honey?   

Dulce de leche in a Saucepan

This method usually takes about 2-3 hours to make,   however needs constant stirring to avoid the dulce de leche burning.

  • 2 liters whole full fat milk
  • 500g fine granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a small saucepan place all of the ingredients together and stir to incorporate.
  2. On medium-low heat gently bring the mixture to a simmer. Stirring constantly, reduce the milk-sugar mixture.
  3. Once the mixture is thick and golden remove from heat. The consistency should be very thick - to test take a tablespoon of the dulce de leche and turn it upside down - it should basically stick to the spoon without any of the it oozing off. 
  • Do not skimp on the milk and go for the full fat stuff. Anything else and the dulce de leche just does not taste as good as it should and the consistency will also be effected.

  • You can add spices like vanilla, cardamom or nutmeg to give the dulce de leche a slight twist.

Dulce de leche in a can

This is my favorite way of making dulce de leche. Although it takes 3-4 hours it's the method I prefer because you can more or less forget the can albeit checking on the water level every now and then.

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  1. Remove the label from the can then place the can in a small saucepan.

  2. Pierce two holes on opposite sides of the lid. You can use a can opener or anything hard enough to pierce holes in the metal.

  3. Pour enough water into the saucepan to come up about 2-3 cm from the top of the can. As the condensed milk reduces keep and eye on the water level – it should not come down below this level.

  4. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the water to a simmer, then reduce the heat and keep the water at a simmer. Keep a close eye, filling water into the sauce pan every time it reduces its level.

  5. Depending on the consistency you want your dulce de leche to be reduce the milk. For a soft, pourable sauce-like dulce de leche it will take approx. 3 hours however, if you want a thick, gooey and creamy dulce de leche, like the one I made you will need to cook the condensed milk for 4 hours.

  6. Remove the can from the saucepan, using oven gloves and then with a can opener open the can carefully. Pour the contents into a bowl and with a whisk gently whisk the dulce de leche to make it smooth and creamy.

  • Piercing holes in the can is a vital step and should not be skipped as this prevents pressure building up inside of the can, which can cause the can to explode.

  • Make sure that none of the simmering water comes over the top of the can. If the water combines with the milk it will create a thin dulce de leche in consistency and flavor.

  • While simmering you will notice some of the condensed milk escape from the holes. You can scoop this up with a spoon or soak it up with paper towels. As the milk thickens this will stop.

  • When you open the can you will notice a lighter more fluid liquid on the top, however below this is the good, thick and darker creamier stuff. Scrap out all the contents and whisking it together will give you a wonderful homogenous cream.

Dulce de leche in the oven

Another very easy method to make dulce de leche and takes a lot less time. Here too all you need is a simple can condensed milk.

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  1. Pre-heat the oven to approx 200-220 degrees C.

  2. Pour out the contents of the condensed milk into a small shallow ovenproof dish. Cover the dish tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.

  3. Set the dish in a larger pan or roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough hot water so that it comes halfway up the side of the shallow dish.

  4. Bake the milk in the oven for 1-11/2 hours, checking and adding more water if required.

  5. Remove the dulce de leche from the oven, allow to cool then whisk to combine.

Dulce de leche in a pressure cooker

This version is from the mother of my Brazilian friend. I have not tried this myself as I fear the pressure cooker. However, my friend swears that it is faster, safe and a typical method used in Brazil.

  • 1 can can sweetened milk
  1. In a pressure cooker pour a good liter of water and place the can in the middle.

  2. Put on medium-low heat and bring the cooker to a boil. After it begins to steam cook for 40-60 minutes. Once again it depends on the desired consistency – cook for shorter time if you want a thinner consistency and for longer for a thicker consistency.

  3. Turn of the heat and wait for the pressure cooker to cool completely before opening it. Open the pressure cooker and remove the can, allow the can to cool completely before you open it. Trying to open it before it has entirely cooled may cause the can to explode.

  4. Once cooled open the can with a can opener and scrape out the contents into a bowl, then whisk to incorporate into a smooth cream.

You do not need to pierce holes in the can when using the pressure cooker method. The steam pressure in the cooker counter balances the pressure in the can, which prevents it form exploding.

  • The most important thing to remember here is to make sure you allow enough time for both the cooker and the can to cool completely. This will avoid any dangerous accidents and exploding cans.

Dulce de leche in the microwave

A method that will give you dulce de leche in minutes! I have not tried this method myself but my good friend Lydia has and she shares a step by step method for microwave dulce de leche in 10 to 15 minutes.

Storing and Using the Dulce De Leche

Store dulce de leche in Weck jars or similar in the refrigerator for up to a month. Heat the dulce de leche either in a water-bath or in the microwave before using.