Food Service Or Home: Transform Sweetened Condensed Milk Into Caramel Sauce

Posted on: 28 April 2022

Dulce de leche is Spanish for sweet milk. Food suppliers usually sell it in bulk by the tote, drum, or pail. Consumers buying it at the grocery store usually buy it already made or they buy it as canned sweetened condensed milk to make homemade caramel for chimichurris, apple dip, or to top ice cream.

Whether you make it for food service or make it at home, you can make caramel sauce with just one ingredient: sweetened condensed whole milk. You can use sweetened condensed skim milk, but the taste and consistency just aren't the same.

Turning Dulce de Leche into Caramel Sauce

It used to be that canned dulce de leche came without a tab. You cannot make it safely with the tab opening. The can needs to be completely sealed so the sweetened condensed milk can turn into tasty caramel. There are two ways to make the caramel sauce: in the oven or in boiling water on top of the stove.

The Stove-Top Boiling Method

Restaurant and home caramel connoisseurs boil sealed cans of sweetened condensed milk in boiling water. Take one can of the sweet milk, remove the label, and check for any dents or punctures in the can. If there are none, place the can in a large saucepan (how large depends on the size of your condensed milk can) and cover the dulce de leche can with water. Bring to a boil, keeping the can covered with water at all times to prevent the can from exploding. Do not use this method unless you can ensure that the can will always be covered with water as it slowly boils to reduce the danger of an explosion.

Dulce de leche food service recipes will likely use larger cans and larger pans which will likely take longer than the at-home method. The at-home method will take 3 to 4 hours. Take the can out of its boiling water bath and let it sit until cooled. When you open the cooled, sealed can, you should see caramel. The drawback to this sealed can method is that you cannot see the color or the consistency of the caramel sauce until you open the can. It may take some trial and error to get the color and consistency you want.

The Oven Heating Method

The oven heating method is the safest, surest way to transform dulce de leche into caramel sauce. Open the can and pour the sweetened condensed milk into an oven-safe container and cover it with foil. Put the container into another oven-safe container and fill the second container with water. Bake the dulce de leche in the water bath for around 2 hours at 425 degrees F.

Take the caramel out of the oven carefully and bring it to room temperature. Remove the foil to check the color and consistency of the caramel. If not to your liking, recover, and cook longer in the oven until the caramel is the color and consistency you wish it to have for apple dip, chimichurris, or ice cream.