Nailed it! No, I really did! No funny memes to show you- I really did just nail homemade dulce de leche. And you can, too. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know my first attempt at this lusciousness wasn’t so wonderful. Looked wonderful. Smelled heavenly. Tasted…grainy. Ended up smothering a Dutch oven pancake with it and every last drop was inhaled. But really, dulce de leche should be so smooth you can just dig in with a spoon and savor that sweet deliciousness-without tasting grit.
I’ve used canned dulce de leche but suspected the real thing would be much better. Maybe you’ve never tried dulce de leche. Think caramel that tastes, well, less buttery and more…milky? More caramely? More…gooey? Dulce de leche is a taste unto it’s own. Sticky, decadent, glorious. Put it on ice cream or cake- or slather it on graham crackers, cookies, pancakes or waffles. Or dig in with a spoon. Swoon.
Anyway, I found this recipe by Smitten Kitchen and decided to try it next. It’s the one, guys. Lots of different options on flavoring the dulce de leche (salt, vanilla, cinnamon) and I encourage you to read her post if you want to go the flavored route. I personally was just looking for straight forward, no frills, dulce de leche. My end product and Deb’s were not exactly the same color and scrolling back through her post I noticed she opted to use turbinado sugar (some people call it “raw sugar”) instead of granulated, which I used. Turbinado sugar-without going into much detail- has the natural color of sugar after the cane juice is allowed to evaporate naturally, sort of a light brown. It’s texture is coarser and the flavor closer to brown sugar. You can use either granulated or turbinado sugar in this recipe, turbinado producing a darker colored end product. The baking soda is also supposed to help with color.
You’ll need 1 ½ hours or a little longer to make your dulce de leche. The last 40 minutes or so I hung tight to the kitchen and stirred pretty frequently with a silicone spatula I could scrape the bottom of my pan with easily. There’s a fine line between a brisk simmer and a slow boil, too. Lots of small bubbles, but don’t bring it to a full boil. I had no graininess or lumps in my dulce de leche following this recipe. Yay! While the baking soda encourages a darker color, it is also supposed to help prevent graininess.
This recipe makes about one cup of delectable dulce de leche. Just enough for several scoops of ice cream-and a few spoonfuls in your mouth.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
- 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp. water
- Step 1 Mix together sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan.
- Step 2 Bring to simmer over medium heat.
- Step 3 Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda/water mixture.
- Step 4 Return to stove and bring to simmer once again, adjusting heat to keep mixture at a brisk simmer. There should be plenty of bubbles rising to the surface, but it should be below a full boil.
- Step 5 Cook and stir (at least every 10-15 minutes) until the mixture turns light brown, about an hour.
- Step 6 When it becomes light brown start stirring more frequently, at least every few minutes as the mixture darkens.
- Step 7 As it thickens and becomes darker, stir continuously to prevent scorching. It’s finished when it reaches a dark copper color and is the consistency of melted caramels.
- Step 8 Remove from heat and pour through a mesh strainer, if desired, to remove any lumps or graininess that may have formed. (I strained mine, but had no lumps.)
- Step 9 Dulce de Leche can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Reheat in microwave. If it seems too thick even after reheating, mix in a bit of warm water to thin it to your taste.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen