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Monday, March 21, 2011

Dulce de Leche - caramelized milk

Caramel of milk :

Dulce de Leche recipes has been going around the food blogosphere for a while. Condensed milk, the  kind of 'luxury' milk sweetener  when I was a tot, gets a foreign sounding name when it is cooked, tin and all.

Widely used in Latin America, so Wiki says, this 'candy of milk'  goes by many names - manjar in Chile, cajeta in Mexico  etc.  Depending on where one lives, you get it in special jars as it is or make your own.

Precautions when making Dulce de Leche :

I have yet to see Dulce de Leche sold in Singapore but  as condensed milk, favored by our Kopitiam uncles, is freely available here, it seems  making it from scratch is so do-able.  A word of caution - get tins which are far from its expiry date, the safety rings 'sunken in'  indicating an existing vacuum , start  cooking your tin of milk from a cold pot of water ( to maintain temperature equilibrium ),  keep your tin of unopened milk submerged in water at all times while cooking ( to prevent the tin from exploding )  and finally, completely cool the tin before opening ( prevent a caramel projectile in the kitchen ).

How to and safety precautions :

To contain any mishaps  and also to shave off 3 hours off preparing this caramel the conventional way over the stove or slow cooker, I used  a pressure pot for this tacky job. Prop the tin on a little rack to prevent your tin from staining your pot and completely submerge the unopened can of condensed milk in a big pot of tepid water.

Do all the usual pressure pot safety procedures - ensure release cork is in place, locking your pot cover, reducing the heat when  enough pressure  is built up and cook for 30 minutes. Take all the pressure pot lock-down safety precautions again - release pressure before opening the pot, avoid being scalded by the superheated water, take time to cool down your tin of milk before opening. 

What to expect :

You will be greeted by a thick brown goo smelling and tasting not dissimilar to condensed milk. Store the dulce de leche in a glass jar and discard the tin, to prevent rust. Chill until it is ready for use.

Here's some ways I figured the dulce de leche will come in useful : use it instead of kaya spread on toast, as a cupcake frosting, cream caramel on flan and maybe making candy with it, the last of which I have yet to figure out. If I must evaluate, the dulce de leche is not unlike Singapore's kaya - a concoction of sugar, pandan,coconut and eggs. Comparatively, DLL  is not as multidimensional in taste but because of its constitution, it keeps better than kaya does.

Hubby says this is too much resources for one tin of milk. Instead, I should be making many tins of DLL in one go.  Maybe, maybe I can even sell to Phoon Huat my homemade dulce de leche and save lots of baking hobbyists the trouble to make it from scratch.


  1. Trying to make it from scratch with fresh milk in the bottom of my AGA. 24 hours later it is still not ready ..... !

  2. The process works when there is sugar component . Iam not sure if fresh milk will do it.