Dulce de leche translates literally from Spanish to “candy of milk.”
There is a difference between caramel and dulce de leche, in that a traditional caramel is strictly burnt sugar (maybe with some water), whereas dulce de leche is, well, candied milk.
I briefly outlined the making of dulce de leche way back in my Banoffee recipe, but seeing how diverse its uses are, I decided to post a how-to specially dedicated to it.There are many ways one my obtain the dulce de leche concoction (like stirring the mixture in a saucepan for over an hour over the stove), but this is the one that I liked the best: boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours.
It is however, a potentially dangerous operation, if you don’t heed words of caution.
First, the can ought preferably not have a metal ring to open (ie, opens with a traditional can opener). I do sometimes use it though.
Then, make sure that the can is fully submerged in the water at all times. Three hours of boiling water will require several top-ups. Top up with boiled water, not cold.
Lastly, when the time is up, simply turn off the heat and let the can sit in the water several hours until cooled.
Do not attempt to open the can while it is still hot because it will explode and may cause severe burns.
I have used dulce de leche in my Banoffee, but it certainly has more uses than uniquely in Banoffee.
Dulce de leche can almost in every circumstance replace caramel (although my caramel sauce is pretty fantastic). It is more unctuous and dense than caramel, and even has a different taste and texture.
I would suggest making several cans of dulce de leche at one time, and storing the unopened extras.
This not only saves time, but gives you the option of near-instant dessert available (like saucing vanilla ice cream, or frosting a cake, or dipping for apples, fruits, and biscuits, or sandwiching macarons…).
It’s everyday magic in the kitchen.