04 Oct2006


Dulce de Leche is the stuff of dreams. Fresh whole milk in copious amounts and sugar slowly boiled down over hours until it thickens and naturally sweetens and results in a gooey, delicious caramel sauce. In other former Spanish colonies such as those in South America, this is a wonderful ingredient used with desserts, in cookies, etc. It is stunningly good. And kudos to you if you make it from scratch on a regular basis. Even I have resorted to the shortcut version (though it takes just as long) which is incredibly easy and requires little effort. This is de-lata cooking extraordinaire. Take a can of condensed milk, remove the paper label and cover with water in a deep pot. Boil it gently for 3-3.5 hours and top up the water so that it is completely submerged in boiling water throughout. Do not worry about it exploding…I can’t explain this scientifically but it won’t blow up apparently. Let it cool a bit and open the can and out comes this wonderful caramel colored dulce de leche. It is fantastic with banana turon and if you thicken it further, as a filler for butter cookies. Great drizzled on vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts as well. Ayayay… my diet is done if I have even a teaspoon of this stuff. But it is wickedly wickedly good.



  1. ThePseudoshrink says:

    Looks yummy! And sinful! Yes, this is great on vanilla ice cream!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 11:49 am


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  3. wysgal says:

    This reminds me of the DULCE GATAS I always request from the Bacolod-bound. I think it’s made from carabao milk and lots of sugar, but the consistency is more similar to chunky chewy candy that you scoop out of the container by the spoonful. =)

    Oct 4, 2006 | 11:57 am

  4. Didi says:

    SINFULness – my, my…

    Oct 4, 2006 | 12:20 pm

  5. Lani says:

    MM, I use this also for my banofee pie. Yummmmyyyy!!!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 12:22 pm

  6. Crissy says:

    My Dad does the same trick for dulce de leche. If he doesn’t feel like buying haagen dasz (is the spelling correct) ice cream, he’ll get good vanilla ice cream with dulce de leche.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 12:43 pm

  7. Maria Clara says:

    Thank you much for this valuable tip in making dulce de leche. For years I have been trying to make one but my utter fear of can explosion prevented me from doing so. I love it as a frosting in yellow cake or vanilla chiffon cake for its caramel flavor and color.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 12:52 pm

  8. lojet says:

    I wonder if boiling whole milk with Splenda will yield the same results for us sugar challenged ones.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 12:58 pm

  9. RobKSA says:

    I should try, but u sure MM it won’t explode? I will impress the missus of a condense the leche out of a can, :)

    Oct 4, 2006 | 1:05 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    RobKSA, I’m with you on the won’t it explode but we have done this at least 10 times without problems. Just make sure you keep adding water so the pot doesn’t run out… Oddly, the can doesn’t even make burot and expand like crazy… lojet, I have never done this with Splenda but I would try if I were you…you never know and let me know if it works. Splenda is now used with cakes so maybe it will work… Maria Clara, I think half of the Pinoy population is fearful of an exploding can of hot molten milk… Crissy, it’s never blown up on your dad has it? Wysgal, the dulce gatas must be the one made from scratch…put lots of fresh unpasteurized carabaos milk in a good stainless or copper pan and boil it down with lots of sugar. As the water evaporates, you will be left with this absolutely delicious confection.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 1:34 pm

  11. millet says:

    my cousins and i made this one summer vacation when we were teenagers, and we went off on our bikes and forgot to check the water – when we came back, all the water evaporated and the can burst and there was sticky, gooey mess as far as your eyes could see. that’s how we spent the rest of the weekend washing and wiping the stove,oven, rugs, the whole kitchen floor, all the way to the dining room!

    an even shorter cut would be to pressure cook it. just make sure the unopened can is fully covered with water, then pressure cook for about 30 minutes, and let cool before opening the can (make sure the pressure has gone down before taking of the cooker’s lid!). guaranteed good, quick, and no blowups. make sure you use tongs or silicone gloves when handling the hot can. MM, how can you post this when you’re on a diet?

    Oct 4, 2006 | 1:42 pm

  12. CecileJ says:

    Wow, another childhood memory resurrected! My Ma used to make this a lot and the can NEVER exploded. Just make sure to use good condensed milk (Milkmaid gets my vote)and, as MM said, keep the water topped up. Yummmyyyy!!!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 2:04 pm

  13. Ria says:

    I love this in Alfajores! MM, would you happen to know how these are made? The bland sandy cookies are the perfect foil for this sweet gooey filling!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 2:34 pm

  14. chris says:

    My cousin makes dulce de leche in an autoclave machine in their clinic! Autoclave is used for sanitizing surgical tools by subjecting the them so superheated steam.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 3:40 pm

  15. nikka says:

    ooh, i LOVE this! my grandad used to make this all the time. we called it Boiled Milk though. we usually put it over a slice of uniced chocolate cake, or as a topping for tapioca pudding.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 3:54 pm

  16. Glenville says:

    oh my gosh! doesn’t the heat produce a chemical reaction from the lead in the can?

    Oct 4, 2006 | 4:59 pm

  17. joey says:

    Ooooh! This takes me back to the days! My great grandmother used to make this…and she would ration it out to me by the spoonful…a lesson in restraint :) It was heavenly!!! My grandmother makes it too. I should definitely get around to making my own…I’m hoping my dad does first though…heehee :)

    Oct 4, 2006 | 5:13 pm

  18. connie says:

    I learned making this shortcut version from my mom. I love love it, as a young child I even used it as spread for the morning pandesal. Oh, the joys! LOL.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 7:50 pm

  19. catalina says:

    My grandmother used to make this in an autoclave too — that was in the 1950’s. I have since learned to make it the same way you do, Marketman, and have never had a single explosion. I like it a little less runny, though. And it tastes much much better when scooped from the can with just one’s fingers!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 9:09 pm

  20. catalina says:

    As for dulce gatas, yup carabao’s milk and sugar it is — boiled down in a buttered tacho (copper vat)– add lime zest before turning off the heat. Spread out the dulce gatas onto a sugared board, cut into 2-inch logs, roll the logs in sugar, and you have the most delicious pastillas de leche, Malolos style.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 9:24 pm

  21. ishdafish says:

    Heh, we always used to make that condensed-milk-in-a-can-caramel-syrup thing during summers because we never succeeded making leche flan. (still can’t.) It used to annoy the heck out of my mom who could never understand why the LPG never lasted as long as it should. And yes, like CecileJ says, Milkmaid was the way. :-D

    Oct 4, 2006 | 10:07 pm

  22. monina says:

    hi marketman! on a recent trip to paris, this was on my itinerary. i sampled (and hoarded) several kinds of confiture du lait and tried it from ice cream to brownies. i’m too lazy to make my own so i stocked on Hediard and gave some to friends as well. it’s so good!

    Oct 4, 2006 | 10:35 pm

  23. mita says:

    was that dulce de leche? we used to make this during our school lunch hour at a friend’s house and had no idea it had a name. we added toasted peanuts and thickened it more after opening the can – yummy…

    Oct 4, 2006 | 10:52 pm

  24. Johnny says:

    Hi MM and all, some condensed milk cans say not to boil to make dulce de leche or whatever. Perhaps to some people it is safe to do so, but here’s another way to make dulce de leche without boiling the can. I haven’t tried it yet myself but a friend of mine did and it was good.
    Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
    Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk ( not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.
    Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
    Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
    Once Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
    Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

    Oct 4, 2006 | 10:55 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Johnny, thanks for that lower risk sounding version… I suppose the method across all versions is similar…boil down the milk to concentrate it further and caramelize the sugars in it…the result is good no matter how you get there!

    Oct 5, 2006 | 6:05 am

  26. wil-b cariaga says:

    I remember one of the pastry chefs I know used this as a filling for bread, somewhat like brioche or ensaymada and it’s really yummy. . . after tasting the bread everyone was so amazed and all were asking for the recipe of the filling, and the chef just laughed and laughed but hehe I guessed and told him I know his secret, caramelized condensada. . . haha he thought I would never know. . . it reminds me of pastel from camiguin, although I’ve tasted it years ago

    Oct 5, 2006 | 6:52 am

  27. gonzo says:

    boiling th can is the way most people do it in Mexico, but i’m wondering if the cans in the Philippines are the same as in North America (like someone else who posted, i’m concerned about the leaching). Thanks for that tip, johnny. sounds right.

    Oct 5, 2006 | 7:01 am

  28. Jennifer says:

    Dulce de Leche can’t be good for one’s diet…but man, does it look delicious!

    And I see Turon in the background…mmmmm!!!!

    Oct 5, 2006 | 7:31 am

  29. misao says:

    i once read of a shorter short cut of doing this… you can place the condensed milk in a pressure cooker and cook it for 1 hr only. haven’t tried it though… but i think it will work since, according to chris, the autoclave version worked. the principle is the same for autoclave and pressure cooker.

    Oct 5, 2006 | 11:08 am

  30. mia says:

    Oh yum…thanks for this, MM!

    I used to empty the can of condensed milk and put some egg yolks and stir and stir and stir. Had lots of fun scraping the semi-burnt parts from the pan. Heaven.

    Oct 5, 2006 | 12:54 pm

  31. Mila says:

    Maybe by using Johnny’s method, I can add a vanilla pod to the condensada. Good to know that I can also try a pressure cooker.

    Oct 5, 2006 | 1:01 pm

  32. Zita says:


    My mother-in-law has had a bad experience on this one, it actually exploded on her kitchen thus she had clean up the whole mess. At any rate as long as the water doesnt dry up you’ll be fine.

    Oct 5, 2006 | 1:07 pm

  33. sylvia says:

    My mother made this so many times when we were little kids. We just loved it! She would boil about 3 or 4 cans at a time. We never had a can explode nor did any of us get any food poisoning. I don’t remember how long she would boil the condensed milk but she would boil it down till it had a pudding-like consistency. It was so thick that you had to open both ends of the can and push out the dulce de leche. We would eat it on its own; never used it as a spread or topping on anything. Sinful!

    Oct 5, 2006 | 1:14 pm

  34. Patricia says:

    Ooh! Sounds like I should run to the kitchen and make some. You’re making me crave for the decadent and caramel cakes found in Manila! Unfortunately, there is just nothing like it over here. Do you know how to make these?

    Oct 5, 2006 | 10:26 pm

  35. juls says:

    reminds me of the dulce gatas from silay… mmmm.. carabao’s milk+muscovado sugar….

    quip ko lang sa some brands of condensed milk: they have this carabao shit smell and taste when you open them… is it because they’re old?

    Oct 6, 2006 | 7:19 pm

  36. juls says:

    MM, why don’t you try your kabog suman with your dulce the leche and accompany it with ripe mango slices?? mmmm…

    Oct 6, 2006 | 7:22 pm

  37. ginny says:

    Oh my…i remember my siblings and I waiting with our spoons while it was still on the stove ready to slurp this gooey delicious substance down to our tummy’s.

    Oct 7, 2006 | 12:09 am

  38. MrsA says:

    The foolproof way of making quick and easy dulce de leche ( condensed) is to use a pressure cooker. you put around 4 cans in the pressure cooker and fill it with water till the top of the can/s and let cook for 1hr – 1 1/2 hrs at full steam ( medium heat ) this should yeild a thick caramel color, if you want darker and thicker you can cook up to 2 hrs. Be sure to cool the unopened cans for at least 1 hr before opening. I use carnation condensed milk as it solidifies better than the other brands. i pushed the limit once and cooked it for about 2.5 hrs and it came out dark like chocolate and so thick you could cut it in rounds :-) I love eating this with bananas.

    Oct 7, 2006 | 8:38 pm

  39. chris says:

    Juls, you make me laugh! I certainly hope that is not a literal description. Hehehe. Makes me wonder though, just how did you get acquainted with the taste of carabao shit?! But in any case, if it tastes and smells like shit, it must be contaminated. I’d imagine old canned products to taste ‘tinny’, if there is such a word (it has acquired the taste of the tin can).

    Kabog, dulce de leche and mangoes together sounds good!

    Oct 7, 2006 | 9:32 pm

  40. Petra says:

    Is this dulce de leche used as the filling/icing for the cakes/cupcakes of Estrels and Costa Brava?

    Mar 3, 2007 | 2:11 pm

  41. kate says:

    hi check “pastel” it has the same tatse like the dulce your talking about.its available here in america

    May 14, 2007 | 1:47 am

  42. brenda says:

    MM, can i boil the can in a rice cooker? My electricity comes free with my rent so i’d rather use it than the stove, since this will take more than an hour of boiling.

    Jun 13, 2007 | 7:03 am

  43. Marketman says:

    brenda, I have never tried this in a rice cooker so I couldn’t say for sure. But if you are going to try it, make sure the entire can is submerged, and remove the cover of the rice cooker… the last time I made this, we boiled it for four hours!

    Jun 13, 2007 | 9:38 am

  44. brenda says:

    thanks for the reply MM, its OK if it will take more than 4hrs. I’ll try it this weekend. So, I wont put the cover of the rice cooker eh? and of course, I will make sure to submerge it in water. have a great weekend.

    Jun 15, 2007 | 7:39 am

  45. zeph says:

    Just a recent trivia find, MM: the man dubbed to be behind the banoffi pie craze, Ian Dowding, credits the creation of this dessert from a conversation with his sister who told him how to make soft toffee by boiling a can of condensed milk in water for several hours (3.5 hrs. in his case).

    It turns out that making toffee the old-fashion way is indeed a tricky business. Worst case scenario, you end up with a product that dries up like concrete.

    Jun 29, 2007 | 3:39 pm

  46. Robin says:

    i saw a variation of the recipe that calls for making two holes in the can and fill the pot with water until it’s a quarter-inch below the can’s top…it’s shorter (1.5-2 hours for a runny dulce de leche…while 4 hours for a dulce de leche candy [solid]) and it somehow removes the “carabao dung” smell that someone has said somewhere in the list of comments…poking the top can encourage the milk inside to boil…

    Jan 16, 2008 | 11:22 pm

  47. raisa says:

    i just did tried this dulce method but with a little variation. I poked 2 holes in the can and boiled in water with 1/4 space from top of the can i boiled it for 3 hours and it came out delicious! great with my turon with langka! yummy! =) i will try with my halo halo ice cream tomorrow!

    Jan 17, 2008 | 11:38 am

  48. quiapo says:

    Like Millet above, I have had an unfortunate experience with making Dulce de Leche. it really is important that there is water in the pot. When I was about 14 years old, I fell asleep while waiting for the can to boil. On waking I rushed to the kitchen, and as I uncovered the lid of the pan, the can exploded covering my face in burn’t condensed milk. Fortunately I was wearing my glasses so there was no eye damage, and my facial skin healed without any scarring, though the injury did cramp my social life a bit for a while.

    Jun 2, 2008 | 10:51 am

  49. quiapo says:

    By te way, here in Australia, Nestle’s now sell caramelized condensed milk. If you prefer the really dark dulce, with the more caramelized taste, then you will have to boil it still. The length of time the can is boiled determines its flavour.

    Jun 2, 2008 | 10:53 am

  50. jenny says:

    i opened the can and heated it stove top for a long time ..couple of hours… and it came out good but not dark and sweet like store? it never got dark? hows come? add brown sugar?

    May 27, 2009 | 12:43 pm

  51. jen says:

    when boiling the condensed milk’s can, am i supposed to cover the pot once the water starts boiling, or better to leave the pan uncovered?

    Jun 2, 2009 | 7:23 pm

  52. Marketman says:

    jen, I don’t cover the pot, keep the pot filled with water. jenny, don’t open the can. Although I have to admit I was always fearful it would explode but it hasn’t so far in my experience.

    Jun 2, 2009 | 8:15 pm

  53. isagarch says:

    Hi MM
    I made dulce de leche yesterday, or rather I tried – one can for 3.5 hours and the other for 4 hours – I did let it cool on its own because I thought it might explode :) anyway, what came out was yummy but was a solid block of caramel – not a caramel sauce. Did I cook it too long? or should I have popped the can open right away?

    Aug 12, 2009 | 1:02 pm

  54. Fredo says:

    Trying it out now. Crossing my fingers it comes out perfect like yours MM.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:23 pm

  55. Fred says:

    took it out too early it seems, its not even brown, but the color has darkened slightly. it was on the pot for 2+ hours. The taste was markedly different than plain condensed milk, it tasted almost like yema. Thanks for the recipe again MM.

    Aug 20, 2009 | 2:31 pm


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