This weekend my girls turn fifteen and I’ve promised them a four layer chocolate caramel ombré piñata cake. Sandwiched with dulche de leche. Smothered in chocolate ganache. Filled with mini m&m’s and jelly tots. A teenage balayage inspired sugar high.
Popular in Latin America, dulce de leche is a decadently sweet, incredibly addictive, thick golden caramel made by simmering milk and sugar over low heat for several hours. Unlike today, for the longest time, dulche de leche was not commercially readily available here in Australia. For those longing for a nostalgic taste of home, one of the simplest and easiest ways to make dulce de leche was to boil unopened tins of sweetened condensed milk in a big pot of water for a couple of hours. No mess, no stirring, no scorching of the precious caramel. Whilst good quality dulche de leche can now be sourced at specialist delicatessens, resist the urge to use supermarket top and fill varieties. It’s just not the same. Needless to say the home-made version is much, much nicer.
In the last five years or so manufacturers introduced ring pull mechanisms to their tins of condensed milk and the great exploding condensed milk tin debate began. Recipes for dulce de leche started to carry warnings advising of a small possibility of explosion when boiling the tin, and the over rider that the risk could be greatly reduced by ensuring the tin is covered with water at all times. Not unsurprisingly this development introduced an exciting frisson of danger into the making of dulce de leche at home.
For the record I have never experienced an exploding tin of condensed milk in my kitchen, but lately, as a precaution, I have taken to slowly simmering tins of condensed milk in my slow cooker, usually on a lazy day spent at home. The process is no more difficult than boiling an egg, albeit for a long eight hours. The reward? Thick, gooey, golden caramel. Heaven on a stick.
Easy Slow Cooker Dulche De Leche.
I always like to cook three or four tins of condensed milk at a time. It takes exactly the same amount of time and effort to prepare one tin of dulche de leche as it does a whole batch. Once cooled, the unopened tins of dulche de leche will keep indefinitely in the pantry cupboard. A delicious, readily available filling for cakes, biscuits and tarts. Fabulous as an ice cream sundae topping or milkshake flavouring.
USE as many tins of sweetened, condensed (not evaporated) milk that comfortably fit into your slow cooker
LINE base of slow cooker or crock pot with baking paper.
PLACE unopened tins of sweetened condensed milk onto the sheet of baking paper to avoid marking the base of the cooker.
ADD enough warm water to completely submerge tins with water. Cover tightly with lid.
SIMMER on low for 8-10 hours depending on how thick you would like your caramel. Top up with a little more water, if necessary. It is important that the tins are fully immersed in water at all times for even caramelisation.
TURN off heat and allow water to cool completely before removing tins.
ALTERNATIVELY, boil the tins on their side on very low heat in a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid on the stove top for 2 – 3 hours, making sure the tins are completely submerged at all times for even caramelisation and to avoid any potential explosions.
ONCE the tins are completely cold store unopened in your pantry until ready to use. Unopened the tins can be stored indefinitely. When opened the boiled condensed milk tins should be thick and a deep golden brown in colour, and needs to be used within 10 days stored in a glass jar.