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Dulce de Leche Caramel Sauce

This creamy sweet caramel sauce couldn’t be easier to make.  Ingredients?  One can of Sweetened Condensed Milk and a very brave spirit…..


I had heard from several people about the “boil a can of condensed milk to make caramel” idea, and I knew someday I would try it.  That “someday” arrived when I was asked to bring a birthday cheesecake for my brother this weekend.  He likes PLAIN cheesecake.  For those of you who have followed easybaked for awhile, you know I don’t do “plain” anything.  I take plain and add peanut butter, chocolate, glazes, ganache, frosting, candy….nothing plain.  But for my wonderful brother John….I present:  a plain white cheesecake…..

so…..plain.  In case you are wondering, this recipe is the basis for almost all of my cheesecakes, and you can click on one of the following pictures to get the recipe using white chocolate (plus fun toppings!!!!) Using other chip flavors gives you chocolate, peanut butter, cinnamon or even butterscotch cheesecakes.

In any case, I made the plain cheesecake, but I wanted a fun topping sauce to serve with it.  Dulce de Leche.  Now, I don’t know about you, but in my mind boiling a can of any sort sounds like a disaster….so I looked up the technique- just to be sure I did it right and didn’t explode anything.

I found a cute blog called Not Without Salt that gave instructions….scary instructions….and I quote:

“In a large pan, completely submerge the can of sweetened condensed milk in water. Make sure it is covered by at least one inch of water and remains covered throughout the entire process – this is VERY important otherwise it could explode. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three hours. Continually check to make sure the can is completely covered with water.”

Yes, it could explode.  Needless to say, I obsessively checked my water level for 3 hours.  I never needed to add any…but I imagined lovely dulce de leche covering my ceiling and walls and I obsessed.

After 3 hours of fear, I took the pan off the stove and had a debate with my friend Danielle about if I should leave it in the hot water to cool…or take it out…?  I took it out.  And I set it outside on my sunporch to cool- or explode.

It cooled beautifully and when I opened the can….oh my.

I love it.  I would do this again in a heartbeat— it is SO good.  I’m so excited to serve it with my cheesecake in a few hours.  It would be good over ice cream or apples…so many possibilities.  ENJOY!!! (and be very careful that your water doesn’t evaporate!!)    ~r

Happy Birthday!!!

Dulce de Leche in your coffee???










Other recipes you might enjoy: Click on the image to be taken to the recipe.


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About Ruthanne

Ruthanne is a scientist with a passion for baking and food photography. Using her kitchen as a lab, she loves experimenting with a variety of flavors and ingredients to create unique, fun and ultimately tasty delights! Thus she created EasyBaked, a website where sugar and chocolate overflow in fun and easy recipes. Her Motto: Money can’t buy happiness -- but it can buy marshmallows, and that’s nearly the same thing!

49 responses »

  1. Oh yes…. sooooo good! My aunt used to make a pie with a corn flake crust, dulce de leche and whipped cream to cover everything…. Mmmmm!

  2. petit4chocolatier

    Wow, I absolutely love your style of writing! I had never heard this before; what a wonderfully creative way to make dulce de leche! Looks perfect : )

  3. What a fabulous idea! I will have to try this sometime.

  4. YUM. I love condensed milk.

  5. I would be totally freaked out too!! Glad it turned out so perfectly, who would have thought??

    I have to agree with your brother…I love a good plain cheesecake, maybe topped with some fresh fruit. He is very lucky to have a sister like you! The pic with the white chocolate covered strawberries and oreo crust looks pretty amazing…who am I kidding, I wouldn’t turn down any kind of cheesecake! 🙂

    • Exactly….who would have thought….? I just had my 2nd piece of the cheesecake and the caramel….yum….I’m going to do this again. I just need 3 hours at home….!

  6. That was scary. Glad it turned out awesome. I’ve been reading about that technique too..still a bit scared to try but …I think I might go for it now haha

  7. Hey Ruthanne!

    so cool that you made dulce de leche from scratch! they love it here in Argentina, and almost every dessert has dulce de leche in it! plus its so readily available in supermarkets that Ive never thought to make it!

    what a great idea!!

  8. I love it, I have been living in Chile for two years and I used to have dulce de leche (manjar) with churros, ummmm delicious!!!

  9. Oh wow! That looks fabulous! I would never in a million years thought to do that! Yum!

  10. Try cooking it in your crockpot next time. Put a layer of aluminium foil in the bottom, set two cans of condensed milk on top, then fill with water until the tins are completely covered. Turn the crockpot on low and leave to cook overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Easy!

    • Hi Nicole! I read about that method- but 8 hours of worrying it might explode seemed worse than 3- lol! I might try it next time though!! It’s good to hear from someone who had success with it!

  11. My mom makes her caramel sauce the same way. It’s easy but you do need some spare time for this. I’ve never tried it yet and I think I’ll just stick to making my own sauce in a pan. I’m not a fan of all the stress in case the can explodes… although making caramel is not without danger either… choices choices!

  12. This is how my grandmother makes carmel for her cakes using sweetened condensed milk

  13. I was visiting a friend in the Dominican Republic and her mother told me how to do this but since she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak much Spanish…I never made dulce de leche. I had no idea it could explode…that didn’t get mentioned. Your cheese cake must have been delicious.

  14. I cook my condensed milk in a pressure cooker. You MUST remove all and any wrappings from de can so it won’t get loose while cooking and obstruct the valve. You may cook multiple cans at once, as long as they are totally submersed in the water and there’s still one inch of air between the top of the water and the lid of the pressure cocker. With the lid well secured, put the pressure cooker on high heat until it gets pressure (the valve starts moving), turn the heat down to medium and count 30 minutes. The longer you cook, the harder the caramel will get. VERY IMPORTANT: after you’re done cooking, you MUST relieve the pressure from the cooker BEFORE unlocking the lid or it WILL EXPLODE on your face and cause serious injuries and burns. To relieve the pressure, you can eighter lift the valve with a fork or put the whole thing under cold running water until no more vapor comes out from the valve.

  15. Dulce de Leche is a favorite in Mexican desserts. As well as we have put it in our
    coffee. 🙂 Great desserts here on your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Chef Randall

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  17. You can do this in less time using a pressure cooker just submerge three quarters of the can and use the pressure for about 45 min then let the hot steam out cool it for about 30 min and thats it less time and no worries .

  18. Can you use a can with a pull tab lid?
    thank you!

    • I think that would be a bad idea. There’s so much pressure as it boils for so long. I’ve never tried it, but I don’t think I would take the chance…?

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  20. I think I’ll do it in the crockpot but plug it in outside on a deck.

  21. Our family has been making this for years and no explosions! We simmer the cans for 4 or 5 hours and the caramel becomes really thick and rich – so much so, that we put it into tart shells and it keeps its shape when cut. Also, we let it cool in the water, sometimes cooking it in the afternoon and leaving it to cool overnight. No explosions, but make sure there is water covering the cans the whole time.

    • Oh thanks for reassuring me (and the rest of us!) I’m SO tempted to pop some cans in right now and cook them longer to get the thick consistency you’re talking about- a caramel tart…? YUM!!! Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with us!!

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  23. I tried this and although the caramel was perfect, I had a horrible stain in my pan! Now, I open the can of sweetened condensed milk and pour the contents into a small crock pot. Stir it every few hours and you get the same delicious caramel without worrying about a can exploding!

  24. I made some in the slow cooker yesterday – 8 hours on low, completely covered in water – and when I took it out – oh heavens. Utterly gorgeous, besides you don’t have to worry about the pan exploding or topping up the water.

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  27. I make this all the time on the stove top and the can has never exploded. Of course, I make sure the can is covered with water at all times. I also let it cool down in the water with the burner turned off. I cook for 4 hours until stiff and after cooled I mix it with whipped topping and cinnamon and use it as filling for a chocolate swiss roll.

    • Hi Barb! SO sorry it took me forever to reply to you- I took a two year break from blogging- but I’m back! Thanks for reassuring us that we won’t die making this- and YUM- what a delicious sounding filling for a chocolate swiss roll!!!!!!

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