Boiling condensed milk in a can can lead to a perfect dulce de leche. Cooking sweetened condensed milk is almost a family tradition in Ukrainian households, though we always called it sguschonka. We use it for cookies and cakes, so the thickest texture possible is required to make thick fillings and frostings for desserts. With this method of cooking sweetened condensed milk, you get the best results on turning your condensed milk into caramel.
On the back of the can, it says ‘never heat in an unopened can.’ This is basic knowledge, so don’t put the can in the microwave, oven, or stove. Just like you wouldn’t heat any other canned soups or sauces. While cooking, keep the cans completely submerged in water.
I boil 4-5 cans at a time so that I always have some on hand. We make the Waffle Cake for last-minute baking or whenever we want to eat dessert. It’s the quickest and most delicious dulce de leche dessert you’ve ever had!
What exactly is Dulce de Leche?
Dulce de leche (cooked condensed milk) is a caramel-like sauce made from milk and sugar. In other words, it’s thickened and caramelized sweetened condensed milk. It’s a thick and gooey confection with a nutty brown color and a flavor unlike anything else. It’s also known as jam made from sweetened condensed milk.
It’s creamy, sweet, and caramelized, and the consistency can range from chewy candy to soft sauce depending on your desired consistency and color. Almost identical to caramel sauce, but much easier to make, especially if you use store-bought sweetened condensed milk.
Ingredients for Dulce de Leche:
Because water does not count as an ingredient, this quick tutorial only requires one. We prefer Nestle La Lechera, but you can use any of your favorite brands in this recipe. You can put up to 5 cans in a pot in a single row, or just one. Cover the cans completely with room temperature water, making sure they are always completely submerged in water.
How to Make Dulce de Leche by Boiling Condensed Milk in a Can
Take off the labels from the cans.
Fill a large pot halfway with sweetened condensed milk. A pot with a lid is required.
Fill the cans halfway with room temperature water, making sure the water level is at least 2 inches above the cans.
Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours for the thickest texture, making sure the cans are completely submerged in water at all times.
After you’ve boiling condensed milk for the desired amount of time, turn off the heat and leave them in the water to cool to room temperature. This will result in the thickest dulce de leche possible.
If not using immediately, refrigerate once cooled in unopened cans for up to 1 month.
How long should the condensed milk be cooked?
Condensed milk boiling time will vary depending on how thick and dark you want your dulce de leche.
A 2-hour cook time yields a lighter caramel (golden creamy dulce de leche with a thinner texture).
3 to 3 1/2 hours of cooking time yields a dark brown rich color with the thickest texture possible.
How Do You Keep Dulce de Leche?
Allow dulce de leche in cans to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the cans without opening them for up to one month. In my experience, the longest I could keep it without sugaring was a month.
If you open a can and want to save the contents, place them in an airtight container or glass jar. Do not keep opened dulce de leche in a can!
Is dulce de leche caramel?
The primary distinction between dulce de leche and caramel is that dulce de leche is made with condensed milk (milk and sugar), whereas caramel is made with sugar and water.
Dulce de leche is typically made by heating condensed milk and contains more sugar than regular milk. When heated, the sugar browns, resulting in a golden brown color. Caramel is made by heating sugar until it turns brown, then adding milk and butter to make caramel sauce.
For the best results and greater control over heat and water, use a stainless steel pot.
Cover the pot with a lid to prevent the water from evaporating.
Reduce the heat to low as soon as the pot with the cans begins to boil.
Keep an eye on the water level. Make sure the cans are always submerged in water. Insufficient water can cause cans to overheat, tear, or even pop. (Using this method for decades, we never had this happen.)
If you try to open the cans while they are still hot, the hot dulce de leche may spit out due to the pressure inside.
Unopened cooled cans of dulce de leche should be refrigerated to extend storage life and prevent sugaring. Never refrigerate opened cans of dulce de leche. Place any leftovers in an airtight container or a glass jar.