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).
We also dipped balls of the caramel in chocolate for delicious candies.
Diane December 14, 2014 COMMENT: Question: Do I leave the lid on the pot while its boiling for 2 hours?
CDKitchen Staff Reply: It doesn't mention putting the lid on the pot at all in this recipe, so no you would not put the lid on while it cooks.
firstname.lastname@example.org June 28, 2014 REVIEW:
Best caramel sauce ever! My mother cooked it for me back in the 1940's and it is still my favorite!!
Guest Foodie June 23, 2014 REVIEW:
Have had this for over 50 years. My Grandmother always made it for our birthdays and put it on top of her fabulous cheesecake that took about two days to make. She was so efficient she would do 6 cans at once. Then put them back in the cabinet marked danger! It is still shelf stable because it isn't opened! Then you are risking it only once. I used to send it to people in their Christmas boxes with a bow on top with a note saying open me when you are blue.
SunBeam May 28, 2014 REVIEW:
Amazing....been doing this for years!
Regkimbrell July 28, 2013 REVIEW:
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.
perplexed July 14, 2013 COMMENT: 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!
abucca July 8, 2013 REVIEW:
If you haven't tried this recipe you must! It makes the most decadent dulce de leche! You can't buy it this good!
soccer mom July 1, 2013 REVIEW:
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.
Jamie October 10, 2012 COMMENT: Do you have a recipe for that Ganache?
cook extraordinaire June 27, 2012 REVIEW:
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.
Frankie November 23, 2011 REVIEW:
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.
Guest Foodie March 8, 2011 REVIEW:
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
Guest Foodie January 20, 2011 COMMENT: 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
Ania December 12, 2009 REVIEW:
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.
Mickey April 4, 2009 COMMENT: WARNING!
Do not leave cooking caramel unattended. Can will blow up!
Also, make sure that you have enough water in the pan.
CUBANMOTHERINLAW September 22, 2008 REVIEW:
ALTHOUGH I HAVE NEVER TRIED TO MAKE IT THIS WAY IT IS THE SAME CONCEPT THAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT. BUT THIS IS THE WAY MY CUBAN MOTHER IN LAW TAGHT ME TO MAKE IT IS SO MUCH FASTER, SIMPLY TAKE A CAN OF SWEET AND CONDENCED MILK REMOVE THE LABLE, AND PUT IT IN A LARGE POT, BOIL IT IN THE POT FOR 2-3 HOURS FOR SOFT DULCE DE LECHE AND 4-6 FOR HARD DULCE DE LECHE.
Cautious cook April 5, 2008 REVIEW:
Important note that's not in the recipe: Be sure to allow the can to cool completely before attempting to open - don't want to spew hot caramel all over yourself.
Cooker extrodianre December 16, 2007 REVIEW:
this was the best damn dulce de leche that i have ever made
polsby July 17, 2007 REVIEW:
This way of making caramel is fantastic. We used to make several cans and keep them in the fridge, unopened, until needed as a sauce to dip fresh strawberries into! yum yum yum