Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Do not open the can yet. Take the can and stick it in a pot. Cover it with water.
Put the pot on a stove and turn up the heat. Let the pot and can simmer gently for about one and a half to two hours for runny caramel (dulce de leche), or up to four hours for solid dulce de leche. Add more water, as necessary, when the level boils down too much. Do not let the water level fall below the top of the can.
When it's done, let it cool for a while, and then carefully open up the can and eat directly (for the solid variety) or use as a dessert spread (for the liquid variety). The resulting product should be colored tan or brown.
It can then be spread into a prepared pie shell and covered in whip cream for an excellent pie, or I use it sometimes as a filling between layers of chocolate cakes.
You need to keep a close eye on the can. If it shows any signs of expansion, immediately remove it from the heat and let it cool. If you are concerned at all at the high-pressure nature of the recipe, you may poke a small hole in the top of the can, and lower the water level so that the can is not completely covered. This will allow the internal pressure of the can to be released, but it will also make the recipe take longer (since high pressure reduces cooking time).
I have made this for years also. I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure the water level remains over the can though. As a young 20 year old, I made this and decided to nap. I heard a loud bang and the can exploded in the kitchen. My mom says that she still finds some in obscure places every now and then, 20+ years later.
Jul 14, 2013
Do you open the can or leave it sealed? I'm unclear on this but want to try it. Don't want to ruin it!
Jul 8, 2013
If you haven't tried this recipe you must! It makes the most decadent dulce de leche! You can't buy it this good!
Jul 1, 2013
I'd seen this recipe for years but was always too scared to try it. Tried it this weekend and was amazed that it worked! I couldn't believe the caramel set up so nicely.
Oct 10, 2012
Do you have a recipe for that Ganache?
Jun 27, 2012
yeap, as a cuban, born and 1/3-raised, my mother made the "dulce de leche" in the same fashion. It is fabulous, if you like a different touch of sweet with color. Talk about comfort food..., hurray for simple and delicious.
Nov 23, 2011
This is divine. I got this recipe 35 or 40 years ago from a co-worker and it has been on our holiday menu for years! Sometimes I make a ganache and spread over the top for the chocoholics in our family. Can NOT say enough good things about it.
Mar 8, 2011
My Grandmother made this for years. She boiled the Eagle Brand then cooled and sliced. She served a slice on top of a pineapple ring, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. This was a family favorite and tradition
Jan 20, 2011
Mother used to boil it, then put it in the refrigerator until it was completely cold. She would then cut out both ends of the can and push out the caramel roll. This and graham crackers was delicious
Dec 12, 2009
We add water every 15 minutes to keep to water level over the top of the cans. This caramel is what we use to make turtles every Christmas.