Dulce de Leche is a great topping for almost any dessert or Ice cream. I also use it in a ton of my recipes, for example Medovnik used Dulce de Leche instead of caramel in its cream filling but also in the batter for the cake layers.
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The ingredients are simple and few, Milk and Sugar is all you need to make a traditional dulce de Leche. The ratio is usually 4:1 Milk/Sugar. You can add some vanilla extract or salt for some extra flavour but not until the end of the recipe.
To yield just under 2 cups of Dulce de Leche you will need:
- 4 Cups of Milk
- 1 Cup of Sugar
How to make Dulce de Leche
Making Dulce de leche is easy but needs care. It takes a long time of simmering the sugar and milk and you want to avoid burning the bottom of the pan. So here are the basic steps:
- Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, heavy sauce pan’s work well because they heat up more evenly than cheaper or thin bottomed sauce pans. Set over medium heat and wait until it starts to simmer.
- Once the sugar milk starts simmering you must watch it and stir it occasionally, so the bottom doesn’t burn. This works best using a heat proof silicone spatula or a wooden spoon.
- The colour will turn darker and the texture will get thicker. You can test if your dulce de Leche is ready by dunking a spoon into the milk and then dabbing it on a cold plate. Hold it sideways and see how far it runs. If it only runs an inch or so it is done, but if its runny and keeps going, then cook some more.
- Voila your Dulce de Leche is ready!
Tips & Tricks
Don’t burn the bottom
The only thing that could possibly go wrong with this recipe is burning the bottom of the pan. This happens quite often and when it does you get little brown or dark spots in the caramel sauce.
To avoid this, make sure you constantly stir and don’t turn the heat too high. Using a heavy sauce pan helps. This is because heavy saucepans distribute heat more evenly and are not subjected to the same heat fluctuations as thinner pans.
Overcooking Dulce de Leche will make it too thick and maybe even taste burnt. To avoid overcooking, do a cold plate test. You simply dab a small amount of the caramel on a cold plate and turn it sideways. See how far the caramel runs. More than an Inch and its needs a bit more cooking.
Colour is also a great indication to see if it is ready.
Storing Dulce de Leche
Unlike traditional Caramel, dulce de Leche contains milk protein and therefore it needs to be refrigerated. Use an airtight container, I find that jam jar’s work best for this. You can store it up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 4-5 months. Again use an airtight container and allow to defrost in the fridge.
Caramel vs Dulce de Leche
I often get this question, Is Dulce de Leche the same as Caramel? The short answer is yes and no. There are some key differences in both flavour and preparation method. While dulce de Leche takes much longer to prepare than caramel, it is not as sensitive.
When making Dulce de Leche you need a lot of time cooking and stirring but besides burning the bottom of the pan or overcooking, not much can go wrong. Caramel is not so forgiving, distributing it or adding moisture can seize the caramel and form crystals.
In terms of flavour, Dulce de Leche is richer in flavour and carries the milk flavour in every bite.
Caramel can also be easily over cooked which will make it hard.
Recipes with Dulce De Leche
Dulce de Leche
- 4 cups Milk
- 1 cup Crystal Sugar
- Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and simmer over medium heat occasionally stirring. The whole process takes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Keep an eye on the sauce pan as the mixture can sometimes foam up and spill over the edge. As the milk and sugar start to caramelise stir more often to avoid sticking or burning.
- As the mixture gets thicker you can perform a simple test on a cold ceramic plate. Put a dab of dulce de leche on the plate and turn sideways, it shouldn't run for more than 1-2 centimetres. If its still watery or runs much further cook another 10 minutes and repeat the test until ready.