Dulce de Leche

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**Below are six different ways to make Dulce de Leche. Click on the “METHOD” titles to go to the individual blog posts for more detailed instructions and pictures**

 

STOVETOP METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Start with a large stockpot. Place a rack in the bottom of the pot (mine has a steamer insert that I used).
  2. Remove the labels from your sweetened condensed milk. Place unopened, label-free cans  into the bottom of your stockpot. You can use as many as will fit in one layer in your pot.
  3. Fill pot with room temperature tap water. Cover cans completely with water. The water level should be at least 2 inches above the cans.
  4. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 hours.
    ***The water level must remain above the top of the cans. If not—this is when you end up cleaning caramel from exploding cans off of the top of your ceiling and every surface beneath it*** To ensure that you don’t forget that you are cooking when you go off and start another project, set a timer for 30 minutes. Check water level (add more boiling water, if necessary), then set the timer again for another 30 minutes. Continue setting the timer in 30 minute increments until the 3 hours are up.
  5. Remove pan from heat, remove lid, and let water cool for 30-60 minutes before removing cans.
  6. Unopened cans can be stored on a pantry shelf (use a marker to label cans). Opened cans need to be refrigerated.

CROCKPOT METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • Unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Remove labels from sweetened condensed milk cans. Do not open cans.
  2. Place cans in the bottom of a crock pot.
  3. Cover cans completely with room temperature water. **Be sure that water completely covers cans**
  4. Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (The water level in my crock pot stayed the same for the entire cooking time, so there was no need to add additional water.)
  5. Turn off crock pot, remove lid and let water cool 30-60 minutes before removing cans.
  6. Unopened cans can be stored on a pantry shelf (use a marker to label cans). Opened cans need to be refrigerated.

OVEN METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • One can of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate. Cover the pie plate securely with foil.
  3. Place foil-covered pie plate in a larger baking pan. (I used the bottom half of a broiler pan.)
  4. Place the pans on an oven rack and add hot water until it reaches the halfway mark of the pie plate.
  5. Bake for 60-90 minutes, adding more water if necessary

DOUBLE BOILER METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • One can of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double boiler.
  2. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover pan and cook over low heat for 50-60 minutes (or longer to get desired consistency).
  4. Stir mixture occasionally, until thick and caramel-colored.

PRESSURE CANNER METHOD:

Ingredients:

  • Cans of sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

  1. Wash canning jars (a quick run through the dishwasher is a good way to sanitize them). Place new canning lids in a small pan of very hot water (bring water to a boil, then remove from heat and add lids).
  2. Open sweetened condensed milk cans and pour into canning jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. (Try not to lick the remaining sweet milk off of the can lids now-you don’t want to incorporate any germs into the jars. There will be plenty of time for licking when the jars are processing.)
  3. Wipe rims and edges of jars with a damp cloth to remove any milk that dribbled.
  4. Place lids and rings on jars.
  5. Place filled jars on a rack in a pressure canner (YOU MUST USE A PRESSURE CANNER, NOT A BOILING BATH CANNER). Add 3 quarts of room temperature water. DO NOT BRING WATER TO A BOIL BEFORE ADDING JARS. Since you are not doing a “hot pack” (hot jars; hot filling; hot water), the jars WILL break if you place them directly into boiling water. Then you end up with a very large pot full of sticky, sugar milk/water. Leaving you to clean all of the other jars and the pot and start over. Not fun.
  6. Place the lid on the pressure canner and bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  7. After you have a steady steam flow through the vent pipe for 10 minutes, place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.
  8. Continue to cook on high until pressure reaches 15 lb.
  9. Lower heat to maintain a constant 15 lb pressure. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge and adjust heat to maintain 15 lb of pressure. Cook for 20 minutes at 15 lb pressure. I used both pint and half-pint jars, and they both came out the same after 20 minutes.
  10. Turn off stove and remove pressure canner from heat. DO NOT OPEN. Let the pressure drop until the air vent/cover lock has completely dropped and no steam escapes when the pressure regulator is tilted (this took about 30 minutes for mine).
  11. When pressure is completely reduced, remove pressure regulator and open canner. Remove jars and set on the countertop on a clean towel.
  12. Let sit for 24 hours. Check seal. Refrigerate for added food safety.

HOMEMADE METHOD
(Adapted from Alton Brown):

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 vanilla bean, split

Preparation:

  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir.
  3. Remove from heat and use a skimmer to remove foam (a spoon or small ladle will work if you don’t have a skimmer).
  4. Add baking soda and split (but not scraped) vanilla bean to the pan.
  5. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for one hour, stirring often and skimming foam as necessary.
  6. Remove vanilla bean and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches desired thickness.  This will take about 60 minutes, depending on how thick you want your caramel. It will burn easily at this point, so be attentive!
  7. The dulce de leche is close to done when a spoon dragged through the mixture leaves a trail. It will thicken a lot as it cools. Test for consistency by dropping a small spoonful into a cup of ice water, or by placing a few drops on a plate that has been placed in the freezer.
  8. The original recipe calls for straining through a fine mesh strainer, but I skipped this step and it was still nice and smooth.
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