A few years ago, I stumbled across a recipe for making your own dulce de leche at home. I had just tried the sweet treat for the first time when Mike surprised me with a WMD (Wafel of Massive Deliciousness) from Wafels & Dinges – back when they only had one truck! After barely recovering from the blow that was finding out their spekuloos spread was not available in the United States*, I was happy to find I could, if nothing else, recreate that deliciousness of oozing caramel.
And then my eyes came across this line, “Be sure to frequently check the water level: the can should be covered by water at all times and the pot should never be allowed to boil dry, otherwise the can may explode.”
I had a vision of working in our little kitchen, with two cans of scalding sweetened condensed milk suddenly exploding, covering the ceilings and walls, Mike walking in the door from work, and fire raging from the stovetop with me in my pink apron screaming for our non-existant fire extinguisher. Now that I think of it, there probably wouldn’t have been a fire. But the thought was terrifying enough for me to never, ever think about making the treat again.
Fast forward a few years, as that very same image played in my mind as I agreed to test a recipe for dulce de leche. The biggest pot I had only held four quarts of water, which seemed like an incredibly small amount to me, so I borrowed one of Mike’s homebrewing pots for the afternoon. I placed the two tiny cans on the bottom of the pot and then proceeded to cover them with fourteen quarts of water, a sight that was almost as ridiculous as my vision of exploding cans and dulche de leche covered walls.
The good news: the pot did not boil dry and the cans did not explode. In fact, the water level barely dipped below the original level. The bad news: having homemade dulce de leche on hand can be dangerous for other reasons.
*It is now! Most grocery stores now carry this brand and Wafels & Dinges now sells their own version.
DULCE DE LECHE
This recipe is very easy, but best suited for a day when you plan to putter around the house for a few hours, as the milk must simmer for a few hours. You can make as many cans that will fit on the bottom of your pot, just as long as they can still be completely submerged in the water. The unused cans of dulce de leche have a long shelf life, perfect for whipping up dessert for unexpected guests.
Two 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Remove the labels from the can of sweetened condensed milk and place on the bottom of a large stockpot. Fill the pot with water, completely covering the cans, then cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and boil for 3 hours, keeping the pot covered. Be sure to frequently check the water level: the can should be covered by water at all times and the pot should never be allowed to boil dry, otherwise the can may explode. Remove the can from the water and allow to cool completely at room temperature before opening.