Dulce de leche, or caramelized milk, is a popular Latin American confection. When prepared old-school, sugar, and milk are slowly heated for several hours. The resulting substance has a spreadable, sauce-like consistency. Dulce de leche derives its rich flavor and color from non-enzymatic browning. It is typically used to top or fill other sweet foods.
A much less labor-intensive method of making dulce de leche is by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two to three hours on the stovetop by placing the cans in a large pot and then covering them with water. Although this method is easier, it can also be risky. If the boiling water level drops below the can line or evaporates altogether, the can may explode. Your kitchen will be showered in shrapnel and magma-like dulce de leche sprayed across the room.
A Safer Dulce de Leche
To make dulce de leche the easy (and safer) way, without the danger of boiling cans in pans, make it in a CVap® oven. CVap technology uses heated water vapor as its primary heat source. This heated vapor carries the same thermal energy as boiling water, cooking just as efficiently. If there is water in the oven’s evaporator pan, there’s vapor in the oven’s interior environment, creating a cushion of safety.
We tested three different brands of sweetened condensed milk: Eagle Brand, Kroger Brand, and Baker’s Corner (Aldi’s brand).
Although the three brands listed the same basic ingredients (milk and sugar), the results varied a bit. Eagle and Kroger developed a shiny, thick custard consistency, and had similar flavor profiles. On the other hand, Baker’s Corner had a noticeable loose consistency and was highly granulated near the bottom of the can. Based on these results, we advise doing a little testing with the condensed milk brands available in your area, to determine which brand delivers the most satisfying results for you.
Dulce de Leche Cooking Method
Preheat the CVap oven to cook for 6 hours with Vapor 200°F/Air 200°F (this setting will produce 100 percent relative humidity inside the cabinet).
Set cans on a sheet pan (perforated ones works best) and place them in the oven. DO NOT FORGET to press the lighted “Enter ü” button to start the timer.
Our dulce de leche was rich and creamy and made an excellent base for some delicious flan. This is also an excellent method to produce dulce de leche in bulk, unlike the stove top method where only a few cans be made.
If you’re not using the auto-water fill function on your CVap, check the oven’s water level periodically to ensure the evaporator doesn’t go dry. Transparency Note: we have never tested cans of sweetened condensed milk in a dry oven. But since the cooking temperature (200°F) is well below the boiling point for water (212° F), there is little concern about a safety hazard. However, the consistency of the ending product may be affected.
Once cooled, the cans may be stored at room temperature indefinitely or for about a month once the can is opened and refrigerated.