Being the cafe sua da lovers that we are, cans of condensed milk are never hard to find in our pantry. In fact, we fill a squirt bottle with condensed milk for quick and easy access each morning to sweeten our Vietnamese iced coffees. But little did we know that by simply boiling an unopened can results in a golden caramelized dulce de leche, a sauce that’s infinitely versatile for all types of desserts. Dulce de leche, literally “candy made of milk,” is thought to originate in Latin America and has made it’s way into mainstream American products such as Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Starbucks coffees, and even Girl Scout cookies!
Boiling the unopened cans for about 2-3 hrs evaporates the water content and caramelizes the sugars. The key is to keep it submerged at all times so we made sure to use are large stock pot with plenty of water. Alternatively you can also use a pressure cooker to cut the time down to 30-45 minutes.
Although time intensive, it couldn’t have been any easier! The result is a shiny, smooth, and addicting confection. We’ve never had the opportunity to try, but dulce de leche from Latin America, particularly La Salamandre brand is supposed to be the best, but it’s also quite expensive. If you’re not up for boiling cans, Nestle and Eagle brands also makes it’s own brand at a much more affordable price.
So how did we use our boiled can of dulce de leche? We wanted to maximize our efforts and make the most decadent dessert we could think of: making dulce de leche ice cream and using it as a topping.
This ice cream ranks right up there with one of the best frozen treats we’ve ever made, mint chip gelato. Smooth and rich, the sophisticated sweetness of dulce de leche ice cream will linger on your taste buds and beckon you for more. Since this experiment, we’ve tried dulce de leche on cookies, fruits, you name it, but the next thing to try on our next batch would be dulce de leche sweetened Vietnamese iced coffee…
Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted (we omitted this)
Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm.
Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.