How to make homemade Dulce de Leche ~ It’s as easy as open and pour and so much less expensive to make than to buy.
There are a few methods to making homemade dulce de leche. Whatever method you use just remember to start with a can of sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk. It’s easy to mistake one from another when purchasing because the packaging is very similar. In general, the sweetened condensed milk is in a smaller can than the evaporated milk.
Sweetened condensed milk has sugar in it whereas evaporated milk does not. The process of turning sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche is simply to extract the water from the milk leaving behind the fat and sugar to caramelize.
I’ll be going over the methods I have tried: oven, stove top and microwave. Since I don’t I have a pressure cooker I won’t be covering that and I won’t going over the die-hard method of making it from scratch with whole milk and sugar which requires constant stirring. I’m just too impatient for that method.
The following three methods all begin with a can of sweetened condensed milk:
1. Oven: This is my favorite way to make it because it gives a smooth creamy texture with minimal work. Empty the contents of a can into an oven-proof dish; sprinkle with some kosher salt and tightly cover it with foil.
Place the covered dish in a larger roasting or casserole pan and fill it up with water until it reaches three quarters of the up the covered dish to create a water bath. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-90 minutes checking every 30minutes on the water level and adding more as needed.
Dulce de leche is ready when it takes on a brown and caramel-like appearance. Remove from the oven and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.
2. Stovetop: This method takes the longest, but it allows for the most control over the consistency. Remove label from can. Pierce three holes in the formation of a triangle on top of can (this is critical to release the pressure from the heat or else the can may explode.) Place the can in a sauce pan and fill the sauce pan with water three-quarters of the way up the side of the can.
Bring water to a simmer and keep it there for 3-4 hours or until desired consistency. For a thicker more syrup-like texture cook closer to 4 hours. When ready, use tongs to remove can allow to cool slightly and pour dulce de leche in a bowl and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.
3. Microwave: The fastest way, but I found it to yield a less smooth texture than the other two methods.
Empty contents of can in a microwave safe dish and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Cook it on medium in two minute increments stirring between each increment (be careful of any steam as you lift the plastic wrap) up to 10 minutes for thinner pouring consistency, or up to 13-15 minutes for a thicker, syrup-like consistency. Let cool before storing.
Dulce de Leche Elements:
- Basic Tools: Oven method: heat-proof pan, roasting pan for a water bath, foil. Stovetop Method: sauce pan. Microwave method: heatproof dish, plastic wrap
- How to store dulce de leche: Place dulce de leche in a jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
- How to re-heat dulce de leche: Place jar of dulce de leche in a saucepan filled with water half way up and simmer or microwave jar of dulce de leche.
- Dulce de leche uses: Dulce de leche can be used as a spread or as a syrup. Its versatility lends itself well to being used in cakes, cookies, candy and custard dessert as a supporting role in flavor or as the main attraction of any dessert.