Guess what, guys?! This weekend, we’re going to make dulce de leche. Or maybe cajeta. Or maybe both.
Step away from the cupboard; I don’t mean like that, the way we’ve always made it. It’s time to break up with the can of sweetened condensed milk; it’s us, not it. Because I’ve tasted the other side, the one where you take that milk in your fridge that you needed to use up anyway, the sugar that’s already in your pantry, a bit of salt, the smallest snippet of vanilla bean and maybe a cinnamon stick, if you so desire, and boil them together until it smells like the heavens exhaled in your kitchen and the mixture becomes the most complexly flavored thick copper caramel with a deliciousness will bring tears to your eyes. And no, I am not being melodramatic; you’ll see.
It’s the perfect weekend project because you’ll want to set a couple hours aside, but only about 20 minutes of it will require actual work. Plus, the Polar Vortex came back to mock those of us who didn’t take the first one seriously enough to invest in all of the silk, thermal and Gore-Tex left in the city, or so it seems this week, and really, it wants you to stay inside and cook. And it’s now late enough in January — a month that included two soups, one salad, a dairy-free dessert and a whole-wheat muffin, seriously, Resolutions, I did my time — that you’re probably ready to reintroduce decadence (or, at least refined sugar and carbs) in measured quantities. I think this is how you should do it.
Because there’s nothing quite like it. Sure, I’d follow a trail of salted butter caramel sauce to the ends of the earth, but there are times when you’re looking for something even more rich and decadent. And easier too; I know that melting sugar in a dry pan can be terrifying. This requires no such nerve-wracking processes; it is literally as easy as boiling water for the first hour or so, and then you’ll keep an eye on it and stir it regularly until it is just a slip of its original volume, intense magnification of the original taste, and oh so gooey on a crepe (filled with fresh banana and mango, here), on ice cream or on a spoon. Okay, fine, mostly a spoon.
Did you know? Dulce de leche translates, literally, a jam of milk, as in, milk jam, as in, milk candy or caramel, as I can’t believe you’re still reading this and not cooking yet. Okay, maybe not that. Its specific origins are unclear (sure, there’s the typical yarn that seems to accompany all foods — someone was making something and they forgot about it/dropped it/used the wrong flour/etc. and made something better — but I’m suspect of those) but it’s especially popular in South America, notably Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, all places that I now need to eat my way through with a spoon. There are variants; according to Wikipedia the dulce de leche of El Salvador has a soft, crumbly texture, and is almost crystallized; in Colombia and Venezuela, it’s called “Arequipe” and may contain cornstarch for a custard-like texture; in the Dominican Republic, the texture is more fudge-like (less milk is used); in Puerto Rico, a coconut milk version is apparently popular, but I have found much else about this yet; and in Mexico, cajeta is most popular, which is dulce de leche made with goat’s milk. Its scope is not limited to South America, however; Indian barfi and peda are both made with condensed milk and is usually cooked until a solid candy is formed; there are flavored versions with gram flour, pistachios, cashews, rose water and/or fruit.
But you used goat’s milk: I know, thus, technically, I made cajeta. Seven years ago, I attended a demo at a local Mexican restaurant wherein, among other dishes, the pastry chef showed us how he boils a cauldron of goat’s milk with sugar each week for many hours until it becomes caramel. I was deeply suspicious; I love goat cheese of all kinds, but wouldn’t the caramel taste… goaty? Oh, silly Deb. The confection they poured over a fruit-filled crepe for our sampling was one of the top ten sweets I’ve ever encountered. There was nothing goaty about it, just a complexity of flavor (consider how much better buttermilk tastes than milk in baked goods) that made regular old dulce suddenly seem dull. I’d thought that goat’s milk would be hard to get outside a farmer’s market, but have found in the past two weeks all over the city, at Whole Foods, my local natural market and even Fresh Direct. The goats milk I bought from Coach Farms was absolutely mellow and creamy; I’m not sure it tasted any different from cow’s milk.
Basically unrelated: Seriously, how awesome are goats?
Vegan dulce: I have seen versions online of coconut milk dulce de leche and I was hoping to try it, but didn’t get to it. They look and sound delicious, but be sure to read the comments; there seems to be some concern about the fats eventually separating out. I wonder if a less fatty coconut milk would work better.
One year ago: Pasta and White Beans with Garlic and Rosemary Oil
Two years ago: Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
Three years ago: Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Four years ago: Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Five years ago: Sugar Puffs and Smashed Chickpea Salad
Six years ago: Anything-But-Clementine Clafoutis and Leek and Swiss Chard Tart
Seven years ago: Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans
Homemade Dulce de Leche or Cajeta
Adapted loosely from Rick Bayless
Makes a little over 1 cup
If you’ve never had dulce de leche before, you’re in for a treat — a sticky, gooey, sweet treat. One of the best parts about making it from scratch is that you can control the sweetness a bit; 1 cup is the standard sugar recommendation per quart of milk, but I’ve also seen and am curious to try it with 3/4 cup. Baking soda is not mandatory here, but it’s supposed to help the final caramel not have any lumps, as well as enhancing the brown color. (Thanks, Maillard!) Some versions contain vanilla, others contain cinnamon (you can leave it in for all or part of the time, if you’re worried it’s getting too cinnamon-y), some contain both — really only add them if that’s the flavor you’re hoping for. If you don’t have a fresh vanilla bean, stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract right before straining and cooling it.
1 to 2-inch segment of vanilla bean (optional)
1 quart whole milk (cow or goat, or a combination thereof)
1 cup granulated or raw sugar
2-inch segment of cinnamon stick (optional)
1/4 teaspoon coarse or flaky sea salt (optional, but ooh, it’s good here)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out seeds and place them, along with the empty vanilla pods, milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt (if using) in a medium-sized (err slightly on the large side) pot. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly stir in the baking soda-water mixture — it’s going to foam up if using goats milk, due to the acidity. This is why we use a larger pot; you might want to do this in the sink.
Return the mixture to the stove and keep it at a brisk simmer; if too hot, the mixture will boil over, if too low, it will take forever. Cook, checking in on it occasionally (every 15 minutes) to give it a stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until the mixture turns a light brown, about 1 hour.
Check in on and stir the mixture more frequently (about every 5 minutes) as it begins to take on a caramel-brown color and thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, then plant yourself in front of the stove and stir the mixture until it reaches a deeper copper color.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer [updated to note: it’s rather thick and this step can be more trouble than it’s worth; feel free to skip it and just fish the cinnamon and/or bean pods out] and into jars. Use immediately, or cool completely, storing in the fridge for up to one month with an airtight lid. Rewarm as needed to soften the caramel; a microwave is efficient but you can also warm the jar in a 1- to 2-inch puddle (shorter than the jar lid, of course) of simmering water in a saucepan until it re-liquefies. If mixture seems too thick to pour even after fully reheating, you can stir in a little water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Serve it: Over everything. Here, I drizzled it on some leftover part-whole wheat crepes from a blintz project (cheese blintz recipe, anyone?) filled with sliced bananas and mango, but it’s also wonderful on ice cream, cakes, churros, or a spoon.
323 comments on homemade dulce de leche
Who ever has leftover milk?! We’re homemade latte fanatics over here, so maybe it’s just our personal problem. We’ve pretty much always *just* run out of milk. …but this recipe makes it look worth a special purchase for some extra!
Sounds incredible! Would never have thought to use goats milk, not sure if it will be easy to find in the UK but definitely worth a try for this recipe.
Was going to make homemade ricotta with my leftover creamy whole milk. How lucky I came here first! Can’t wait to try this.
I made it once and I’ll surly try again.
Pure, pure joy.
Aww yeah. This sounds awesome!!
Regarding goats being awesome: Yesssss! They are up there with wombats, and baby manatees eating bibb lettuce. My friend has a goat farm and her goats were getting cold so she asked me if I wanted to help her make *coats* for her *goats.* Goat coats, if you will. OH BOY DID I. http://eggton.com/2013/01/18/operation-goat-coat/
Love the idea of using goats milk in this for that little extra dimension of flavour. Excited to try this!
I looove homemade caramel and experimenting with different recipes (sea salt, vanilla beans, etc.) Though, some simple sweetened condensed milk in the crock pot is nothing I complain about eating either :)
Emily – you can get goats milk in Sainsburys and Waitrose for sure – probably in any large supermarket. In my local Sainsbury’s it’s near the dairy milk, comes in a white tetra-pak with a goat on the front. It might be near goats cheese and things in yours.
just so you know (and i realise your small kitchen is limited in the number of available gadgets), my husband has perfected this using a slow cooker with no lid. less mess, no chance of burnt milk, and you can do other things while this bubbles and makes the house smell heavenly. so for all those who have a slow cooker – tis the way!
No way that is a great tip! I’m gonna try it
Wow, looks wonderful drizzled on the crepes! As for the Arequipe in Colombia, I would say, it’s more of a peanut butter texture than custard, creamy and slightly sticky. They also have a Manjarblanco, which is a harder version, and I’ll have to think harder of the consistency of that. So many ways to eat something so delicious!
I can’t wait to try this version. We may have our own Dulce de Leche crepes this weekend!
45 years ago my Colombian mother in law used to bring me manjarblanco when she came to visit ( and she stayed 3 months at least!). Wow did I love that stuff…at the time no one around here had ever heard of it or dulce de leche.. It came either in a wooden box about 9 inches square or in a can like Crisco comes in. Have never seen it like that again…so I used to boil a can of condensed milk.
Making caramel on the weekend as a project would be the best weekend ever!!! Bring on the ice cream!
I haven’t yet bitten the bullet of dulce from scratch as I usually make it from cans of sweetened condensed milk. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying fresh goat milk to make cheese, so I might as well double the quantities and try this!
By the way, how long does dulce keep made this way? Does it crystallize at all? Do you recommend sterilizing it further once in jars for long-term room temp storage?
Diane — Thank you. I want to learn more!
Steph — It is my understanding that dairy product cannot be canned for room temperature storage. But, I’ve also seen jarred caramel sauce at stores out of the fridge that contain only milk, sugar and butter, so I perhaps my information is off. It shouldn’t crystallize. It will keep in the fridge for a month.
Missing bits — Added a note about vanilla extract and how to use a vanilla bean. Oops.
I just want you to know how often I see the previews for your posts in my reader and internally exclaim, “Debbbbbb!” It’s a lot. I need to make this right away.
I am definitely a fan of goat’s milk whether caramelized or fresh. As much as the condense milk version has worked it way into cooking culture; nothing will replace the original. At least for me my free Sundays are spent over the stove, SO I will need to try this again some day.
This is absolutely not what I need, but I want it now! Thankfully I have whole milk at home, leftover from the bechamel I made for your homemade lasagna bolognese recipe!
And a cheese blintz recipe? Yes please!
Ohhhh yes. This is just gorgeous. Definitely one to be eaten by the spoonful :)
Wow it looks delicious,appetizing and creamy hmmm. As a good Latina I use a lots of dulce de leche, but normally buy it. Yours look so beautiful that it is motivating me to made my own and of course this recipe. Thank you for sharing….and you do share a lot.
My Argentine grandparent always have dulce de leche. They mix it with arroz con leche (rice pudding), or just eat it of the spoon. My grandmother used to make it by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk. A few years ago, one of those cans exploded; luckily no one was in the kitchen, because there was enough damage that they had to replace the ceiling. Naturally, I’ve been hesitant to try making it. Yours looks safer…I can’t wait to share it with them.
Yummmm . . . .
I don’t know much about canning–but is this something you could can and give later as a gift? I’m thinking Christmas 2014 already!
Just bought some cajeta from an artisans’ market here in Mexico. Unbelievable! No essence of goat. Now will have to make my own. Gracias!
As an owner of lovely dairy goats, good milk should taste clean, no “goatiness.” Our cajeta was my homemade gift to all my family this past Christmas. Truly decadent.
I want to go to there…
I will not be making this because I am from Argentina and we have a lot of different brands of great dulce de leche in the supermarket, but I do have to tell you that you nailed it! The color´s perfect, and I am sure it tastes great. In Argentina we are a bit nuts with dulce de leche, you should try dulce de leche ice cream and as a filling in cakes. For those who don´t have a sweet tooth, better skip it!
Congratulations on the blog!
You are so right, I need to move away from sweetened condensed milk! I know you mentioned buttermilk, do you think I could use that? I have some in the fridge that I’m thinking would be great for this. Thank you!
Amanda — Good question, but I’m not sure. I fear it might curdle when heated? Of course, there’s thin/watery “real” buttermilk (run-off from butter-making) and then the thicker/thin yogurt-y buttermilk sold in cartons that more like acidulated lowfat milk, but I believe they have the same acidity.
One of the things I’d loved about the cajeta I had years ago was that it was vaguely buttermilk-ish (a faint tang that added complexity) but not goaty. As I mentioned, the stuff I bought last week was creamy and milk, virtually indistinguishable from cow’s milk. [Edited to add:] Reading more, it seems like there’s a real variety. I’ve read that milk goats kept with male goes make a stronger flavored goats milk versus ones that do not. I presume that each brand will vary depending on what they imagine their market is.
Of interest, many people find goats milk easier to digest as it’s lower in lactose. It’s also naturally homogenized; the fat doesn’t separate out, unlike cows milk.
Goat breeders never keep male goats (bucks) with females ( does) as they are incredibly bad smelling. I know, I used to keep goats.
This looks incredible! There were some cookies I wanted to make that required Dulce de Leche but I couldn’t find it in the grocery store. I will have to try this!! Thank you!
I’m so glad you made it with goat’s milk! Growing up in South Texas, we ate a lot of cajeta and candies with cajeta in them but when I’ve tried to explain to non-Texans that dulce de leche really is better with goat’s milk, they stare at me with this blank, disbelieving look in their eyes. When we were in Argentina for our honeymoon, my husband and I ate a lot of dulce de leche (non goat’s milk kind) and I’ve been craving it ever since. I will definitely be making this recipe! Thanks for sharing!
I’m making blintzes right now and wish I had some dulce de leche to drizzle on top!!
Why you do this to me? I had all my weekend planned! Now, every time I close my eyes, I will see this delicious dulce de leche…what a color! I have to make it!
My family use local fresh goat milk to make “Arroz con leche”, a kind of rice pudding, very popular in Spain and it’s so good :)
made this recipe before using David Lebovitz’s recipe, and it was so good! will give this recipe a try tomorrow!
Ah… you read my mind! I was planning to use all the milk I have left to make chilean Manjar blanco, before it goes sour. As someone mentioned above, it’s more like the colombian version, a texture closer to peanut butter than custard, but soooo gooooood… all you need is a spoon to eat it!
Perfect! My husband came home with two quarts of raw milk the other day. We don’t drink raw milk, but I would hate for it to go to waste! I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe to cook it up, I’m sure my friends will thank you!
to piggy- back the note about colombian dulce, in panama it’s called manjar and is very very thick, similar to colombian style. sometimes when there is traffic there are guys walking up and down the road selling little bags of fried dough and tiny jello-shot sized tubs of manjar for dipping. it’s one of the reasons i try to avoid traffic…!
I don’t know, i must be a super taster or something, because one of my coworkers brought in some brownies with cajeta and i could totally taste the goat. I even asked him if he put goat cheese in the brownies because i didn’t know it wasn’t just caramel sauce. It was still really good, but…goat cheesy.
This looks great, can’t wait to try it!
I literally swooned when I saw the first picture. I don’t know what I’m going to make with it but straight out of the jar with spoon is heading the list.
This looks dangerous!
I am currently in Buenos Aires, and just had the most amazing dulce de leche ice cream. It was so rich, I couldn’t even finish my single scoop. I have favorited your post so I can start recreating some of these Argentinian culinary treasure troves when I get home. It is amazing how prevalent dulce de leche is down here. The fast food restaurants (Mcdonalds. Burger King) sell soft serve dulce de leche instead of chocolate. Instead of cookies and cream the local ice cream shops sell cookies and dulce de leche.
I love making dulce de leche! We have a family milk cow so anything that uses up lots of milk (1 quart down to a cup!) is awesome in my book :) And the flavor is just amazing, really deep caramel. People are always surprised by how good it tastes. In case anyone cares, I have tried it with brown sugar also and the acidity curdles the milk so stick with the white sugar. I’ve also walked away and cooked it too long and it turns into a crystallized chunky thing. Still good but not what you’re going for.
Thanks for the heads up on brown sugar. I make milk jam to use up dairy that is near its sell date. (I use the California Milk Board’s milk jam recipe.) For me it’s all about frugality and the challenge of cooking and eating without too much waste. I put in anything I have – 1/2+1/2, 1% milk, heavy cream, an old can of condensed milk, etc. We had visitors and I bought too much milk, so I am using 20 cups of dairy. You saved me from ruining it all with a box of brown sugar which expires next month! I have also added sour cream, but that results in something that tastes like a whipped butterscotch pudding.
WOW! I was going to make ricotta pie with salted caramel this week, but now I think I’ll top the pie with this dulce de leche. I’m not a fan of condensed milk and I’m actually pretty terrified of making caramel from scratch, so this recipe looks perfect. THANK YOU!
Ohhh Deb. You just….you’re inside my head. This was my big fall project, after stumbling upon a purveyor of delicious, not-quite-legal raw goats’ milk. So happy to see you conquering it here. It’s easy and delicious and requires absolutely no cooking of chinese metal cans. Thank you!
One of my fondest food memories is my middle school Spanish teacher (she was Argentinian) bringing the class dulce de leche and mini croissants on which to spread it. It’s the perfect food, really.
Emily! Goat milk in the UK for making dulce de leche!
What’s the purpose of pushing it through a strainer? Are there lumps after cooking?
I first read about making this from scratch from David Lebovitz site. I was so glad to find a recipe where you don’t boil a can that I jumped for joy! He made cajeta, which doesn’t appeal to me as I can smell the barnyard quality of goats milk in an instant so I just used cows milk. He also baked it in the oven rather than stirring it on the stove. You should check it out, it’s under “Extras” on his site.
Dairy products can be safely canned with a pressure canner heated to 240 degrees. Although I have never tried it myself.
The USDA website has some guidelines about this but I can’t find the link now.
Well…after following my own direction to you, I looked at his recipe. He did use a can of prepared condensed goat milk. So, I imagine you could get your recipe to the condensed stage and oven cook it from there…er, if you’re so inclined.
As for using coconut milk – in the Philippines we have coconut jam. Basically coconut milk with brown sugar. Just as delicious and the coconut flavor is balanced with the sugar.
Ah, siamo po-po (Samoan coconut jam). I’ll try to make some and post the recipe in comments–it’s heavenly.
Now you’ve done it. That is quite enough sin for more than one month right there. However it has to be done. It is SO cold in the northeast this week that I’d be tempted to dunk my chilly toesies in it. From “scratch” Dulce de Leche, who knew? The goats link is great, by the way…LOVE that last guy!
That goat video. Absolutely hilarious. If I wasn’t feeling happy it was the weekend I certainly am now. *Searches for local petting zoos*
An earlier commenter is correct–this wouldn’t be safe for water-bath canning (and a pressure canner comes with a pretty hefty price tag if it’s something you won’t be using very often). I wonder how this would cook down in a crock pot?
Hi, Deb! I love everything I’ve ever made from your blog, but have been content until now to just make delicious food and read comments. However, this post has got me wondering…do you think this dulce de leche is thick enough to stir into a pan of brownies and not lose it? I’ve become obsessed with your salted caramel brownies and I want to make something similar to that, but using this recipe. Also I’m trying to have less of this to eat with a spoon…
Yes please on the cheese blintzes! This is definitely going on the to-make-immediately list.
Haha, I’m imagining you snapping that top photo as quickly as possible to catch the slow-moving dulce de leche avalanche before it stained your linen napkin!
nzle — Some people practice their athletic reflexes, I practice camera ones. Especially when Fog Linen linens are involved!
Aisha — Possibly. I would use less milk to get an even firmer caramel. Also, have you seen David Lebovitz’s DDL Brownies?
Jessica — Removing the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and any assorted bits. You can skip it if you just want to fish them out.
Alex — Mexico is mentioned. I actually am making cajeta from goats milk in the photos.
Out of curiosity, I made this with coconut milk fat and it turned out perfect. I halved the recipe and used one can of full fat coconut milk (must be refrigerated overnight, with the white opaque layer scraped out and used) in place of the whole milk. Turned out delicious (and it only had to cook for 15 minutes). If we don’t eat it all within a couple of days I’m going to reduce it to a consistency thick enough to make dulce de leche candies (!!!!!!).
I have so been looking for a good recipe like this. Thank you. I will be trying this out this week end. :-)
this recipe looks amazing… but your are forgetting to mention Mexico…
This looks amazing! Do you think it would be possible to make it in a slow cooker? I wonder… I’ll definitley be trying it though!
Ooooh, I love Dulce de Leche but have never made it myself — I bet it’s even more delicious! If that’s even possible… :)
Oooh this looks fantastic! And honestly it’s not that much work so I don’t see why I wouldn’t put the sweetened condensed milk away and try this out! Thanks for sharing! xo
Oh Deb, I am highly suggestible and that makes you are a dangerous woman. I bought goat milk today, deliciousness here we come.
Deb…what an amazing recipe. I’ve been dying to try The Pioneer Woman’s dulce de leche coffee but didn’t want to buy a giant can of the premade stuff…never occurred to me to try making it at home. Just gorgeous!
Also– would regular granulated sugar work for this? Polar vortex = no running out this instant for turbinado sugar :(
I’m not very adept at adjusting recipes but I’d really like to try this for an Alfajores recipe. That would call for a consistency more like peanut butter. I’m from Peru and more accustomed to the firmer Manjarblanco. I do the condensed milk thing and this recipe looks so great. Any specifics for how much less milk to use? I’ve made so many of your recipes and have enjoyed all of them…thanks!
Whoops, just noticed you already said in the recipe granulated works :)
Dreaming of Alfajores now…Very excited to make the whole cookie from scratch.
Deb, make a tarte tatin with it. Seriously. Or apple turnovers.
Em — Right, no that does not make sense. Will fix. Thanks. Hope you like it!
Nancy — Mine is pretty firm (I’d say PB-like) even at room temperature (left out after being in the fridge), or about what I’ve seen in alfajores (it always looks a touch soft to me), so I think you’ll be okay using this recipe straight. However, if you’re nervous, try making it with 1/2 to 1 cup less milk for a more candy-like consistency.
Ashlae — Ooh, that sounds very good. I’m wondering if by just using the fat, it was closer to a vegan equivalent of a straight butter-sugar caramel sauce. Was it very creamy?
On FB, there’s been a sub-conversation in the comments about what makes DDL turn brown. The suggestion is that it’s the Maillard reaction from the baking soda, and not just the slow caramelization of the sugars. Now I’m really curious to try it without the baking soda (hope to this weekend; we do indeed have milk to use up) to compare and contrast. Have any of you made from-scratch dulce de leche without baking soda? Is the texture/color/flavor as good? And food science enthusiasts, what does that mean for DDL made from just canned sweetened condensed milk (with just two ingredients: milk and sugar)?
Yelling goats video — If you think it’s funny to adults, you should try playing it for a very cranky 4 year-old stuck in a very long traffic jam during a very long car ride, as I did a couple months ago in desperation to lighten the mood. I think Jacob almost popped, he laughed so hard. Then he asked for a goat.
Deb, I think this sentence was meant to be different, unless it’s just too early in Australia and I’m still a bit bleary:
“where you take that milk in your fridge that need to use up anyway in your fridge,'”
Meanwhile, it’s 7:30am here and I already have this bubbling away, cannot wait to make ice cream with it.
Thank you so, so much for the vegan archive! I loved your site before going vegan and still do. The love and care you put into your recipes, the humor of your writing, and your honestly are just as appreciated with or without butter.
I veganize your recipes all the time and hope I do justice to them. Other times, I am just inspired by your posts to try something myself.
Oh I am so making this! What a wicked weekend project!
You can add a little liquid glucose for an instantly slightly firmer version.
I have experimented quite a lot with similar recipes & also find substituting about 50g brown sugar gives an even better result. I am definately not a sweet-tooth but am now addicted!! The liquid glucose makes it set at a more custardy consistency. Perfect with everything! We like it best on homemade banana ice cream (just frozen bananas & nothing else processed until they magically turn to ice cream).
Deb, I read along of blogs & yours is hands down my absolute fave :)
Something about this winter (hmmm…not sure what it could be…) makes me want to just cook and eat these types of things. Spot on with the timing of this post. Dulce de leche reminds me of my grandmother, God rest her soul, as she is the only person I’ve known to make it. I may have to try your recipe in her honor.
In Argentina we also add a pinch of Sodium bicarbonate or “Baking Soda” in the preparation of Dulce de Leche, it has a double function: It prevents milk to get curdle, and it also promotes the Maillard reaction, responsible so characteristic for the brown color.
My son is allergic to cow’s milk, so I was excited to try the coconut milk version. Following a recipe from the New York Times, I used 2 cans of coconut milk and 135g dark brown sugar and then followed your recipe for the rest of the ingredients.
I was tempted to omit the baking soda because I was not worried about lumps. But, then I scanned the Maillard article and it mentioned that, “hundreds of different flavor compounds are created”. I was definitely not going to miss out on that, so I used the soda. But when I put it in, the fat quickly separated out. D’oh! Stirring the “dulce sin leche” (phrase stolen from somewhere on the internet) while it cooled reincorporated the fat. Only time will tell how quickly it will separate again in the fridge. I think it won’t be there long enough to find out, though, because my 3 year old and I wholeheartedly agree that it’s delicious on a spoon!
Oh, and for anyone wanting to try this variation, I had the mixture at a rapid boil for about 45 minutes without any danger of it boiling over. Just stir somewhat frequently.
Just made this…incredible! I used 2% milk with 1/2 cup half-and-half to sub some of the milk. It’s luscious and caramelly and doesn’t stick to my teeth…thanks so much!
Oh. My. Gosh. Well, I know what I’m doing with my weekend. Maybe some homemade ice cream to go with it as well.
I also use bicarb not baking soda
DEB! You had me at the straining picture. DAAAAAAAAYUM girl.
Another seriously, how awesome are goats? here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/12/13/250846078/whats-that-clinging-to-the-towering-wall-and-why-doesnt-it-fall-off
Um, HELLO. I had no idea there was any.other.way!!! omg. I am in love just looking at it! Goodbye cans of scm!
The coconut milk fat version was very creamy. And my milk drinking partner claims it’s nearly indistinguishable from dairy laden dulce de leche. He also had the nerve to tell me it tastes better than my vegan dulce de leche recipe (which is similar, minus the baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla bean) (ok, really not alllllll that similar) because you can’t taste the coconut at all. WIN!
I love Cajeta- the Coronado label even makes a candy which I cannot be trusted with… I am definitely going to make this Sunday- like the day after tomorrow! I am just afraid I will eat the whole jar with a spoon, standing up in my kitchen, as soon as it is cool enough to put in my mouth. Ohhh Nooo, maybe I shouldn’t, or maybe I will.
Thanks for another inspiring recipe/story!!
These Vortexi have about done me in!!
I have this on the stove now and it smells amazing! Like a good recipe-follower, I put it in…but I am wondering what the baking soda is for?
Looks delicious but how does this compare with the much simpler method of boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk?
Did one recipe make enough to fill all of the jars pictured? Or did you double up?
Thanks for the recipe, Deb.
Practical question – is it mandatory that it is stored in the fridge? And how long will it keep for?
* enthusiastic clapping * I love that you used goat milk. Thanks for the weekend brunchspiration. God knows we need a reason to get out from under the blankets with this weather we’re having…
Psst! Your past-years links list is wonky! The “Sugar Puffs” link has some broken code, and I think the “Five Years” entry is hiding in it.
Also, this looks absolutely delicious.
Yum, yum, and yum! Caramel scares me to make but I love eating it.
Amazing!! And another ‘yes’ vote to the cheese blintz recipe, although the sweet potato one in the cookbook is fabulous :)
Made it for my daughter’s 11th birthday cake (when she didn’t look like a grown woman….sob!). WONDERFUL. And some of my commentary sounds just like yours (with swears) although I notice now that I misspelled cajeta TWICE. Oy.
I bought cajeta about a week ago so my son could taste it, and he LOVED it… I will be trying the homemade version! Thanks for sharing!!
Perfect timing…how do you do this so often?! The snowflake party is on sunday and I’ve got your russian teacakes all ready to go. But they didn’t stay round (like snowballs) like my husband’s recipe does. So I was fantasizing about sandwiching two together. With dulce de leche, or perhaps the cajeta in between they’ll be somewhat reminiscent of alfajores which I’ve since wiped those from the menu because they are so labor intensive. Blah blah blah, the long point is that you just made my day and provided me with what I think will be a very tasty and fairly unique recipe – perfect for an annual indulgence. Thanks as always!
I know I already commented …but I have just come back from my local library with your cookbook. I had taken it out before ( way back when it was newer) but it was on eye-level today when I checked out so I added it to my pile. Most importantly it is STILL only on 7-day loan ( not bad for a year later… possibly unprecedented,BTW) AND it has been treated very respectfully. No globs of food or grease on any of the pages. It has , however been dearly loved since the covers ( both front and back) have separated from the binding. I find I am drawn to very different items than I was the first time out too…This book is a real winner. Thank you again for all you do for your “groupies”!
I’m thinking I’m going to have to try a milhojas cake. I lived in Chile for a year and they used manjar in their milhojas. I also worked at a Peruvean restaurant and we served a fantastic cake called a Pionono- you make a sponge cake, spread it with the dulce de leche and then roll it… so many possibilities….
You make snowed in look like a blast! Crepes are so fun! We have sunny weather in Seattle!
So funny. Cold here in the Midwest too, and last weekend, totally apropos of nothing, I made dulce de leche the boil a can of sweetened condensed milk in water way. Probably nowhere near as good but so fun to boil something IN the can…and not have anything blow up! Now I’ll try the real way….
I’ve been making Alton Brown’s version of this for years, and it’s basically the same. It’s amazing stuff! Bottled in cute little jars, it makes great homemade Christmas presents!
Weirdly, this stuff is really popular in a tiny pocket of coves on Newfoundland’s east coast. As far as I know no one made it from scratch back in the day, they just used the terrifying method of boiling unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk. Nan used to put a dozen cans in a pressure cooker on a Sunday before she went to church! I have no idea how her house never blew up, but the finished product ended up as “caramel tart”…with the dulce de leche on homemade pastry, or mini-tartlets. I finally found the courage to try it on my own a few years ago, and the results were dreamy and totally worth a kitchen disaster. With that said, I’ll be trying this method for sure and breathing a little easier. Thanks!
OMG! Thank you, it looks so good. Can’t wait to try.
Oh, I have to make this for my son. We lived in Uruguay for 2 years and he really misses dulce de leche. He would be over the moon.
I love dulce de leche, hubby doesn’t, and my kids (6) LOVE it. I’m going to have to try this, maybe tomorrow. FYI, I have made dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk before, but I just pour it into a heavy bottomed pot and cook it down rather than running the risk of redecorating my kitchen with exploding cans (not to mention the worry of cooking in cheap metal cans, I can’t help worrying that we’d end up with lead poisoning.)
Ohhhh times like this I wish I wasn’t off sugar!
And yes, goats are totally awesome. Especially baby goats.
yes thanks!!!! this is exactly what i needed, now to just combine it into an ice cream…
I miss this so much! We live in West Africa where fresh milk is nearly impossible to find but you have inspired me more than I can control and will have to try it with powdered milk reconstituted and/or UHT. Goat’s milk is only a dream here- I get looks of shock and disgust when I mention it. too bad. They know not what they miss.
Oooh nice recipe! I’ve been looking for an alternate recipe to use for my banana toffee icebox cake. Thanks!
Just wondering if you feel there was any big difference in flavor attributable to using raw sugar vs. granulated?
Deb, I read this and once I wiped the drool off my mouth, I thought of: RICE PUDDING with dulce de leche. Is there such a thing in your repertoire? I found this online http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/dulce-de-leche-rice-pudding-with-toasted-almonds but it’s not YOUR wonderful rice pudding. Can I just mix some of your dulce de leche into your rice pudding?
I love overseas, and this is our fourth country. You never, ever know what you will be able to find (or desire) in a new place. Last week I saw a recipe that called for Dulce de leche and dismissed it because I can’t seem to find it here. Now I’ll have to go back and search for that recipe. Thanks for another great one–and just at the right time!
Cheers from Argentina, this looks great! A good tip I found when I first made dulce de leche is to put in the pot some glass marbles or even a very small ceramic plate from the start, so it stirs the bottom and keeps the mixture moving.
Thanks for the awesome recipe!
Several years ago, I tried David Lebovitz’s condensed milk version for his delicious dulce de leche brownies. The brownies were great, but the dulce de leche was nothing like those $9 artisan jars of the stuff. Then the local goat cheese vendor showed up with “pet quality” goat milk. We (all the two legged cats in my house) have been enjoying goat’s milk cajeta ever since. So to Topol, yes, it is worth it. I would never go back to the pie plate in the oven! Rick Bayless’ recipe was the perfect starting point for me too.
I love dulce de leche, but have never made my own. Definitely need to try this – it looks amazing! Pinned!
Oooo I saw this and made it right away! I didn’t use a full cup of sugar, only about 3/4 cup, and it looks and tastes divine! Thanks for the inspiration! Can’t wait to drizzle this on pancakes tomorrow at brunch. ;)
Here in Chile we just call it Manjar, meaning, something delicious, a delicacy. Food poetry I think!. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many South American countries and I found they change in thickness and richness mostly. The only limit to use it is imagination. And in Argentina, I think to them it comes second only to football.
Hi Deb, this looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it out. How long would you say this lasts for before it goes bad? Would you store in the fridge or cupboard?
In Ecuador, our dulce de leche is usually white. Manjar blanco. My sister makes it for selling, spread inside sponge rolls called “piononos.” I know it’s made of milk, white sugar, some orange zest in strips that of course dissolves at the end, some rice that gets crushed to almost powder (I don’t know the why about this and I want to replace it with a tiny bit of rice flour). It’s a lot different from caramel or the drizzled dulce de leche. It’s thick and not too sweet, with a faint taste of orange, so we spread it on cookies, use in alfajores, or most usually, eat it by the spoonful. It’s probably very close to the one from Colombia since we are neighbors.
In Las Vegas this weekend, I passed up a dulce de leche crepe at the Jean Phillippe Patisserie in the Bellagio. It was $14. Thanks for this, I’ve been looking for a good recipe for a while. Supermarkets here do not carry it. How important is the vanilla bean to the flavor?
I used just 3/4 cup sugar, as you speculated about, and it came out beautifully. I can’t imagine it being better with even more sweetness.
In Chile it is called “manjar”….divine!
It’s like you’re reading my mind with this timely post! I am working on making alfajores at the request of my sister (who recently visited Oaxaca) and I was trying to figure out if there was a way to make dulce de leche without using canned condensed milk. Perfect timing! I’m even more excited about the goat’s milk revelation. Thanks, Deb.
agnieszka I would love to hear how you make it in the slow cooker. I’ve seen recipes for slow cooker dulce de leche using cans of sweetened condensed milk, but nothing from scratch.
Now you need to come up with a killer alfajores recipe!!
Excellent recipe – it’s nice to see such an original version. I do make it, although w/sweetened condensed milk (in the oven). Love dulce de leche….so many great ways to enjoy it.
Deb, I love dulce de leche (in fact, I just posted about a dulce de leche pie: http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/chocolate/chocolate-rum-and-dulce-de-leche-pie) and cajeta, but never think of making it myself. This post, with your pictures and non-intimidating instructions, is making me want to try my hand at this very soon! Thank you!
Sounds divine! We took a cooking class in Santa Fe and made a similar dulce de leche with a tablespoon of Chimayo red chili powder added and it was totally addictive over vanilla ice cream. Kind of like that hot salsa you just can’t stop eating.
I grew up climbing on chairs inside my mother’s and grandmother’s pantries trying to sneak spoonfuls of cajeta. (Coronado of course… the leche quemada version, definitely not the envinada– this kid didn’t care for boozy caramels). It seems very apt that I try to make it myself. There’s also one other kind of dulce de leche popular in Northern Mexico/Southwest US. It’s called jamoncillo or jamoncillo de leche. I remember my aunts used to make it when the milk was about to go bad as a way of salvaging it. Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Deb.
“Seriously, Resolutions, I’ve done my time” hahahahaha! Thanks for the laugh!
My first thought was “I’ll never make this,” but as I kept reading all the way to the end found myself licking the monitor, I thought twice. The printer is spitting it out as I type. All that remains is to decide if it’s this or salted caramels. Or both.
Fully certain that this will bring joy to whoever eats it. I enjoyed reading the little history tidbit, by the way!
I went for the beans, salt, and goat’s milk. I used an entire bean in my excitement about using a real vanilla bean for the first time, so I missed the 1-2 inch section recommendation. It’s on the stove right now.
I’ve got to say those of us living in the current tundra of the North are grateful for the pleasure of cooking and definitely this recipe. What a wonderful way to spend a day closed in by snow and sub-freezing weather. It almost makes it joyous!
OMG, the goats video almost made us forget the sauce. This is heaven, in smell and taste and the goat milk gives it extra depth. I have a crepe batter sitting in the fridge as we speak and my family is licking the spatula, spoon, strainer and pot. I’m afraid they are going to attack the jar next and we might have nothing by the time we get to make crepes. Thank you!
This is so exciting! I am intolerant to cows milk and always jealous of all the salted caramels and the like going round – goats cream is just not buyable in the same quantaties as cows cream! Whoever said way back when they were unsure as to the availability of gaots milk in the UK – in my experience in Bristol and London it’s everywhere. I can get it in my local Sainsburys Local and Tesco Express as well as larger supermarkets. Waitrose do own-brand goats milk in a normal looking milk bottle, everywhere else mostly does St Helen’s Farm goat milk in white cartons (with a goat on the front). SO excited to make a recipe with NO adaptations!
Okay Deb, I loved you before (I’m going to make your Jacked up Banana bread later.) but honestly. I clicked on this post thinking to myself “*sigh* I’m a foolish lactose intolerant girl. I wonder how much this stuff would kill me. 15 cups of heavy cream, some whole milk for garnish. *sigh* What’s a girl to do??” AND THEN IT WAS MADE WITH GOAT’S MILK. You’re just the best. I’m totally going to make this when I can get to Whole Foods and then I’m going to die a happy lady. You’re actually the most wonderful food blogger ever, thank you for this gift.
Tried the recipe…. Amazingly, my nephew has gone crazy for it…. In love with your recipes now, although they have made me a little busier in kitchen :p
Grew up with DDL brought from Argentina by my grandparents. I have cooked it at home with my crockpot- seriously works! Less attendance needed as the temp is relatively constant. Much safer than boiling the cans of sweetened condensed milk…
But please, Deb, it’s not caramel! As you mention, it’s the maillard reaction, not caramelization that adds both the color and flavor!
Summer here in New Zealand, and I am fortunate enough to be able to buy raw milk. I always buy too much, for a project such as this will come along just in time. Sometimes it’s cheese, sometimes custard, and now dulce de leche. Happy little sigh.:-)
Will compare with boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk and then adding cinnamon and vanilla.
Martha Stewart has an awesomely simple coconut caramel recipe – it’s absolutely divine with pineapple. Just cook together a can of coconut milk and a cup of brown sugar until it’s as thick as you want it to be, then add a pinch of salt. Done!
Oh my… I’ve been kicking around the idea of participating in a milk CSA this year. There’s a farm close to me where you buy a herd share and get a gallon of (raw) milk a week. They do cow and goat both.
I think this recipe clinches it… fresh milk, fresh butter, homemade cheese, and this. I’m in.
Anyone ever try this with a slow cooker? I’ll bet it works.
Thank you for the vegan section! Can’t wait to check it out!
What crepe recipe did you use? I have tried to make Crepes once a million years ago and they did not work out!
Hi Deb, Thanks for all your great recipes! I am a huge fan. Just made this tonight and the texture came out very thick (almost soft-caramel quality). Still delicious, but definitely not drizzle-able. I suspect I cooked too long on the stove, but mine never got to that deep color yours was. Any suggestions about where I went astray?
Divine! Made alfajores for the first time, yum. Can’t get enough of this gooey goodness.
Yes please to a cheese blintz recipe. My Polish/Russian grandmother made the best but only rarely, and since she never worked from a recipe, no one in our family has been able to get close to hers. Would love to try yours!
I have never made dulce de leche, but is sounds really sounds yummy and I am looking forward to making it tomorrow.
Thanks for sharing your recipe
Your photos look amazing and the procedure seems easy enough. I’ve always wanted to try making dulce de leche in a way other than boiling the can of condensed milk. In the Philippines, we simmer a vat of carabao’s milk (the water buffalo) with sugar and a hint of lime till it reduces and becomes a thick, sweet, milky white paste, then we roll it up into ‘milk candy’ called pastillas or else eat it out of the jar. Your dulce de leche looks so indulgent and I will try it soon. Thanks for the recipe, Deb.
Did you know that the people who own Coach Farm (the Cahns) are the same people who started the Coach handbag company? When they sold off the purse business in the ’80s they went into goat farming. And their daughter is married to Mario Batali.
I wish they would export their dairy products beyond New York. They’re delicious.
I made a batch today while three 4-yr-old boys raced around the house. The stirring schedule fits well with requests to fix this lego, arbitrate this injustice, help set up the Spidey tent. Dee-lish…another huge SK win!
Hi. Im Aldana, im from Argentina. There are so many coments here, i think you may not read mine…. but here its go any way.
Dulce de leche is said to be from Buenos Aires, in the other countries of south american you will find argentinian dulce de leche or other similar dulces (jams) as caramel jam.
There is a famous recipe in which dulce de leche is the main ingredient, that is “chocotorta”. Its made with dulce de leche, chocolate cookies, coffe and cream cheese. If you are interested I can traslate it for you.
Makes me really happy that you add our special recipe in you blog :). Bye!
I’d like to clear up that the dulce de leche that you mentioned as being fudge-like from the Dominican isn’t really a version of South/Central American dulce de leche. In the DR a lot of dulces that are like fudge are made, leche is the name for plain, basically. When people from DR mention dulce de leche in cakes, they’re definitely referring to the milk caramel here, not the fudge stuff.
The first time I had cajeta I disliked it because it tasted so obviously goaty to me, so I would be cautious if not a big fan of goat’s milk.
Also there’s really not much point to reducing the sugar for this because the less sugar you use, the more you’ll have to cook it dow, so really you’re not ending up with a less sweet end result unless you thicken it with some starch, which some people do.
I’m making this now, and OH NO, it’s totally curdled. I didn’t use the baking soda, that must be why!? You said in the description, and Romy said in an earlier comment, that it helps to reduce the possibility of lumpiness.
(This is saddening and totally weird-looking but maybe it’s still edible?)
Here are more deets if you’re interested: I used cow’s milk. The curdling happened around the “maple syrup thickness” stage, while the color was still pretty light.
Maybe baking soda is essential?
First of all, I’m super impressed you made dulce de leche from scratch! The 2 times I made it, I did it using condensed milk and a slow cooker. Boiling anything sugary like that scares me to no end but it seems so easy when you do it. Secondly, goats are awesome. Especially when they harmonize in Goat versions.
Deb, I read your comments about coconut dulce with interest, since I live in Indonesia and have a good supply of coconuts. Simply boiling coconut milk until it separates is the village method for making coconut oil (unbelievably delicious when fresh, I might add, but it turns quickly), so yes, I’d be a little concerned about that. But so what? I wonder what the two parts would taste like individually?? Or, would the addition of sugar somehow prevent it from splitting? Ooh, I am on the road right now, but can’t wait to get home to my kitchen and try them all out!
We make a coconut cream sauce that could be called coco de leche. Just coconut cream and sugar cooked together. Uses less coconut cream than you would think. Just stir together in a pot and add more cream if needed. For curiousity sake in Tonga this is served on a cake called fakakakai- pronounced exactly how you think it sounds! The cake portion i make with grated cassava, more coconut cream and sugar. It’s quite remarkable how it comes together and interestingly very tasty!
This recipe sounds fantastic and MUCH better than the boiling-condensed-milk idea you see everywhere else. Can’t wait to try!
Wonderful recipe, as always. My first batch tastes great, bt ended up rather grainy. Any idea what might have gone wrong?
Oh, and the baking soda will always foam up if you add it after the milk is boiling, whether it’s goat milk or cow’s milk. I’ve done it both ways and you can simply add the baking soda from the beginning right into the milk, no water needed.
As for coconut dulce de leche, I usually make it with palm sugar and throw a splash of rum at the end. It requires a little more baking soda than cow’s milk because there is less protein and therefore doesn’t brown as much. It also comes out creamier and smoother due to the high fat content. I usually do half coconut milk and half cow’s milk, but all coconut milk works, too.
Made this yesterday with goat’s milk, and this morning drizzled it over fresh strawberries. It was fabulous. Mine didn’t get as dark as the one in the photo, but it was delicious anyway. Not as sweet as dulce de leche. Loved the hint of cinnamon.
What do you think would happen if I made this with confectioners sugar? obvs it would be a different animal but do you think a finer sugar will caramelize?
I ask as I somehow ended up with an enormous unopened bag of it after the holidays and there is no room for that in the one measly cabinet my apartment has. I thought massive amounts of caramelly sauce might be a good way to use it up as my husband has been requesting that I make him batches of frosting to eat by itself. Any ideas as to how it might work or what else to do with a 5lb bag?
Just wanted to say I just made this with 3/4 cup sugar & it worked great. Still very sweet, & such a lovely treat for a Sunday afternoon after being homebound for 9 days taking care of my sick son. I rarely use white sugar, I’m more of a honey & maple syrup sweetened girl, but for ddl it is worth it :)
Also – I have plans for your red wine velvet cake for valentines. I’m 7 months pregnant & have a raging sweet tooth!
Looks absolutely delish! Can’t wait to give it a try!
You know, my husband and I went to Buenos Aires for our Honeymoon, and didn’t find a single dessert without some kind of Dulce de Leche in it. Dulce de Leche is pretty much the only thing in the world that’s too sweet for me (seriously, my grandma used to make candies that were basically nothing but sugar, and I’d inhale them, but this is somehow sweeter than those). It was so sweet, it actually make chocolate cake too sweet to eat!
Nonetheless, I’m finding myself very interested in the crockpot version of this recipe that people are talking about in the comments. I might have to try it, but I’ll probably never put it on anything but fresh fruit to cut the sugar.
As someone who speaks Spanish, I’d like to add that “dulce” probably wouldn’t translate to “jam” in this case. The most direct translation is “sweet” (as in candy.) So the word-for-word translation would be “sweet of milk,” or milk candy.
“Dulce” sometimes is used to refer to jams, like “dulce de frutilla” for strawberry jam (which makes sense–jam is similar to candied fruit, except it isn’t dry.) But I don’t think that makes sense in this context. In English, “jam” refers to fruit preserved using sugar, and dulce de leche has no fruit.
How much is it 1 quart? I normally operate in mls, but recently bought measuring jugs to be more flexible:)
i just made a vegan version of this using almond milk. all the same proportions, except i had to use dark brown sugar. haven’t seen any separation of fat that people have reported with coconut milk, and it tastes amazing!
i want to drizzle it over cake for dessert tonight but i honestly don’t know if it will make it that long. you are right about that spoon thing :)
Hi– I made this with whole cow’s milk, and it is delicious. One question I’m not sure has been addressed: I strained using a fine mesh strainer, and had lots of milk solids left over. Nearly a whole (small) ramekin. Is it supposed to go back in and get reabsorbed by the sauce (as one of the comments seems to be suggesting)? Or is it extra? If the latter is so, any suggestions as to what to do with it?
I tried this with almond milk since it’s all I had on hand. I added 2 tbsp butter to increase the fat content so it was closer to that of whole milk. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked very well! This way also foams a lot so use a large sauce pan.
I have made dulce de leche for years after living in Chile, always using a can. I tried this recipe this weekend and I was surprised to see how easy it seemed! All seemed well until the end, when as I was pouring the dulce de leche from the pan, it went very thick and hard, so much so that it wouldn’t go through a strainer (it just sat in the strainer as a blob). I put it all in a jar and now, one hour later, it is hard as a rock. Not visibly crystallized, but so hard I can barely crack it; it has the consistency of hard candy. I used goat’s milk and followed the recipe exactly, but I must have gotten something wrong. I’d love to try again, does anyone have insight on what might have happened? When you crack a piece off, the flavor is lovely, but it’s not going to pour onto crepes anytime soon. :( Thank you, everyone!
This method vs. sweetened condensed milk — To me, this is just better; there’s a much more complex, elegant flavor. You’re using fresh, not canned and pasteurized-to-death milk, vanilla bean, cinnamon, good sugar and you can even control the sweetness a bit. Nevertheless, as I say every time I offer a recipe for something homemade that we might otherwise not make fully from scratch at home: It’s only worth it if you’re not entirely happy with the [insert dish here, in this case, dulce] you’re getting/making at home. If the stuff from the condensed milk is the end-all be-all in dulce flavor to you, no need to bother. But if you’re curious or you wonder how to make the canned version even better, well, this is how I’d do it.
Re, the color not getting dark enough — Did you keep cooking it? I remember it felt like it took a while at the end (I should have mentioned this) but it does/will/should always get darker.
Re, thickness — A few people have mentioned that theirs came out very thick or too thick. Did anyone who found theirs too thick add some water?
Mary — Don’t worry about it not being able to slide through a strainer. When it’s as dark as I got it, it firms up quickly. Do you see the photo with three jars? I poured a little off into the first, let it cook another minute, poured off the second, etc. By the second half of the third jar, it was too thick to go through a fine-mesh strainer so I just dumped it in and fished out the vanilla bean (I’d removed the cinnamon much earlier). Or so I thought. Anyway, it will be very hard once cold. It will re-liquefy once warmed.
Julie — Strange! Tell me more. Do you have a picture? (I’m reading comments backwards — newest to oldest — so if someone mentioned this in an earlier one, I’ll update this comment.)
Kasia — Google says that it’s 946 ml, but you can call it 950 or I suspect an even liter and nothing bad will happen.
lil — I’m not sure it would work because powdered sugar has constarch in it and that might make it… thick, or cloudy, or both.
Julie — Tell me more. What kind of milk did you use? Sugar? Was any water added? As I just read Sage’s comment too, did you use the baking soda?
Sage — When did it start looking curdled? What kind of milk did you use (full fat)? Did you use liquid vanilla extract or fresh vanilla? Did you keep cooking it past when it looked curdled, i.e. to reach the darker color (since you mentioned that it just happened at the maple syrup stage)?
Maggie — No, I did not but thank you for telling me! I just went down a HUGE internet rabbit hole reading everything. What awesome people! It looks like Mrs. Cahn died last year; but what a full life she had. I also rather cluelessly didn’t realize that they didn’t export outside NY; I think this is what happens when you’ve lived in NY for all of your goat-cheese-buying life.’
Hayley — This one. It’s not the thinnest or most lacy and delicate, but it works, and it’s great for blintzes… coming next!
Eatyeats — In the recipe, I say it keeps for up to a month in the fridge.
Elaine — CLOSE. I have a Tres Leches Rice Pudding recipe in the SK cookbook that we find deadly delicious — it uses sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, evaporated and heavy cream. And cinnamon. It’s really ridiculous.
Reneé — No, not terribly much in regular baking. But, I was obsessed with making this as rich and full of flavor as possible. I’d already bought the “best” goats milk and had great Mexican cinnamon sticks, etc. and figured that raw sugar would give the sauce the most complex flavor possible. When there are very few ingredients, I think you can often taste a qualitative difference when you use a better one. But no need to use it if you don’t have it.
Gabbi — Done!
Lauren — Thank you! What a sweet report. Libraries are awesome.
Meg — Whoops! Thanks, now fixed.
Alex — Mandatory? I’m not sure. I don’t have any expertise in food science and don’t want to get in trouble. My hunch? It’ll be fine outside of the fridge in a not-too-hot place (due to the high sugar content), but not for too long. But please, don’t risk poisoning on my account.
Jason — It did not fill all three. I didn’t double up. The jars are really tiny, two are maybe 4 ounce, the third is maybe 5.
Just chiming in to say, yes please on the cheese blintzes recipe!
Mary, it sounds like you cooked it too far. Your heat may have been too high. You have to account for how much it will continue to garden once cooled.
I just made this tonight to put over some vanilla ice cream with pears. Although it tastes really good, it’s not quite what I expected. Everything went well until the browning stage. I stirred constantly so it wouldn’t stick, which worked, but it never developed a deep golden color. Also, I would recommend using a whisk to help with the clumps.
Hi, Deb. It must have been fate that I was invited to a Mexican-themed dinner the very day you published this recipe for dulce de leche. So I had to make it for the hosts, right? I did just that, marveling the whole time at how well the whole thing was coming together except…I went past the point of no return. Stirring over low heat, I was waiting for it to turn that deep copper color, but it never got past caramel. Meanwhile it was thickened to the point of candy which was not what I was going for. What do you think? Heat too low? Is there a temp and texture by which to assess doneness?
Made a double batch this afternoon (why not?) to share with visitors. Then we went out for supper and overindulged, so did not eat vast quanties. Fortunate to have burners with extra low settings and a hubby at home for the afternoon to watch over all. Didn’t get the deep copper color either. Froze some in tiny containers rather than risk wasting. This might not be my best ever idea. We’ll see. I think I would reduce the cinnamon by half based on licking a spoon. Still a fine concoction. Need some homemade ice cream to fully test it out.
You mention “Indian barfi and peda are both made with condensed milk” –> I am sorry but the true Indian Barfis and pedas are made with full fat and creamy milk whose cream is removed by boiling the milk until a soft cheese like mixture is formed. This is then undergone several treatments and mixed with nuts and saffron and other sugar and other flavors you want. Using Condemsed milk is a cheap shortcut method which will not get a true and good flavor. Perhaps you are already aware of this but thought should share my view with you as well.
Thanks so much for asking, Deb! I used full-fat cow’s milk, and it started looking curdled around the time it got as thick as maple syrup. It was still pretty lightly colored at the time so I kept cooking it, thinking that maybe I’d just strain the lumps out later, but the lumpiness just got worse until it was a curdled mess. I did use a piece of vanilla bean, but took it from a jar of rum it had been soaking in (for homemade vanilla extract).
uhuuu love that there’s a vegan section in your archive now! :)
I used to veganize everything but it’s much easier if you don’t want to read/change 10 recipes before cooking every time…
I find that your mushroom bourguignon is
1. the very best recipe in the book
2. most wonderful thing to do with mushrooms
3. almost vegan and needs to be in the archive, so that no vegan ever overlooks that
Thank you <3
PS: vegan dulche de leche works with a combination of soy milk and coconut milk too ;)
I fell in love with dulce de leche10 years ago when I took my 15 year old son snow skiing in Argentena. It was our first expereience with this delectable treat. I was told by the locals: “put a can of condensed milk in a pan of simmering water and let it go for several hours.” I never tried that because I found it at Williams Sonoma and then later, at most grocers. But your recipe sounds divine and worth the effort. Thank you!
Wow! Just looking at the pictures I knew I have to try this immediatly! it came out perfekt (just with Vanilla; next time I try with a cinnamon stick). Sooo delicious -have to hide it otherwise it will be empty in a minute… THANKS!
You’ve done it again. I’ve made dulce de leche numerous times, but I tried it this time with goat’s milk, and VOILA! Never going back! Unsweetened coconut milk is next.
Oh, this looks amazing! I lived in Peru for 2 years, and ate manjarblanco (their name for it) all the time. My favorite version is two flat shortbread type cookies with a thick layer of manjarblanco between, with the outside edges rolled in toasted fresh coconut. They sell these cookies on every corner in Peru. I became addicted to them!
The cookies (from my comment above) are called alfajores. A little bit of heaven.
i love dulce de leche. in brittany they eat confiture de lait which is similar. i made it with jersey milk a while back and my god was it good. it took all my willpower to not consume it merely by the spoonful.
Finally, a recipe with sense enough to recommend using fresh milk rather than the unsavoury stuff you get in cans. If you’re not going to use fresh, you may as well as just make your regular caramel sauce (using fresh cream and not UHT), as it will taste so much better than any canned dulce de leche sauce I have ever tried. The canned stuff will always bring unwelcome nuances / flavours that just spoil the “broth”…
I made this recipe yesterday afternoon/evening and it came out very nicely,smooth, creamy, no lumps or curdling even though I did not time the outcome very well as it was at the stage of needing more stirring about the time I was fixing/eating dinner. I would judge the color of what I made to be close to that shown in your photos and the refrigerated consistency was easy to spoon this morning. Alton Brown says you should not attempt to re-incorporate the foam that develops but does not explain why – could that possibly lead to curdling/lumps? I had trouble getting the finished product through the strainer and probably would skip that step next time as I used powdered vanilla and it was easy to remove the cinnamon stick intact. I had no lumps or residue in the strainer when I was finished. A heaping spoonful in my morning coffee was very good and it was good drizzled on a piece of peach pie last night. My husband used to boil sweetened condensed milk until he had a can explode on him and he decided never again after cleaning up the mess.
I am thinking ahead to homemade Christmas presents (a tradition in our family and that is a long story). I was wondering if this would double or triple (given a large enough pot, of course).
In other news, I made the broth for the Chicken Pho yesterday and it is incredible.
thanks, as always,
I grew up in Brazil, and yes, we love “doce de leite”! I just never thought I was ever going to make some at home. But I tried this recipe this past weekend and it is just delicious and so simple to make. I will never buy dulce de leche again or use condensed milk to make it. Always home made from now on!
How did you know I’ve been salivating over every dulce de leche drink, dessert, breakfast item, etc. on the surface of Pinterest for the past week. I have yet to make anything because in the wilds of North Dakota there’s no store-bought dulce de leche to be found. So thank you, because I am making this, like tonight.
Do you think it would work using skim milk?
So I made it, although I had no plans to until I opened your post. It was perfect. I made a warm banana split with sliced banana, the dulce de leche, melted dark chocolate and glazed pecans–no ice cream. Fabulous!
I never knew you could make ducle de leche from scratch, scratch! All I need is a some goat’s milk and I’m in!
Just a thought . . . but for those who’ve said they tried the recipe with goats milk and ended up with hard, rocklike cajeta, was your goats milk ultra pasturized? Mine was, as that’s the only goats milk readily available to me. My cajeta was super thick even when moderately warm, stuck to my teeth and threatened to remove my fillings. After a reheat it’s getting a bit grainy. Not that that’s stopped me from eating it!
All I can figure is it might be the ultra pasturized goat’s milk, or the fact that I eyeballed the baking soda.
Will it work with 2% milk ? I have 4 litres of 2% milk that I need to use up after son stopped his smoothie intake without notice?
Annette — I haven’t tried it but see no reason not to. My son can’t make up his mind whether he wants to drink milk so we ALWAYS have too much at home too!
recipes I want to try for a long time, love it thanks
I just made this yesterday, using whole cow’s milk, and it came out beautifully. I think I may have cooked it a bit too long, as it was too thick to strain through a fine mesh strainer, but since I used vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans and didn’t have the cinnamon stick in it either, I don’t think it mattered much. So far, we’ve eaten it on ice cream, as a dip for potato chips, and stirred it into home made white chocolate hot chocolate. I was never a dulce de leche fan before, but I decided to give it another try, and boy, was it worth it!
Deb! I just got a pair of milking goats this week! I am coming out of my years of lurking to say THANK YOU AND ALSO YOU MIGHT BE PSYCHIC. Yay!
Betsy — But do they yell like humans? :)
speaking of the goat videos, this is my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLI4EuDckgM
To all the people asking how long this will last: not long. I made the recipe two days ago and it’s almost completely gone. Yum!
Yes to the churros recommendation. A delightful Mexican restaurant out here serves cajeta filled churros for dessert, and they are a delight. (Even if you haven’t had a few Palomas to start.)
I have the same problem as Sage. Mine curdled at the “maple syrup” stage while it was still quite light in colour.
I used full fat goats milk and a vanilla bean. I also added the baking soda.
I kept stirring and waiting for the colour to darken which it did a bit but not to the deep caramel colour in your pics. It also became very thick, more like peanut butter. It definitely was not going through a fine mesh sieve! But I put it in a jug and even though it has the curds in it it still tastes delicious.
Any ideas on what may have gone wrong? Did I maybe stir it too much – I couldn’t keep away:}
just finished a batch and topped some greek yogurt with it for a pre-gym snack. god is REAL. this is so amazing and worth every second.
I made this amazing recipe (dressed in silk, thermal and a few other layers…Mother Nature’s Polar Vortex visited here (WI) twice too!) using whole cow’s milk and it turned out perfectly. I’ll be sharing with my granddaughter (for her birthday :), making your inspired combination of crepes with mango and banana; these are all her favorites! Thank you; you are absolutely ‘the best’!
Just a thought~~some brands of sugar are made with ‘beet juice’, and are not pure cane sugar (I use C & H brand). I learned this in a candy making class. Just wondering if that could affect the end result for some who are having trouble.
Made this a few days ago when you posted the recipe and like other commenters it didn’t get quite as dark but the flavor was great.
Then I wasn’t sure what to do with it but started putting a small scoop over plain oatmeal with some chopped almonds and a bit of fresh milk. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
So if anyone has leftovers, try it over oatmeal ;)
I admittedly did not read through all the comments. But I’m gonna say don’t add water. In trying to get mine as dark as yours, Deb (which still failed) mine got too thick. It had a great consistency when too hot to eat, and even a nice one when a bit cooler. But when cooled to warmish air temp? It could pull your teeth out. Trying to strain it was rough and not at all successful. I will skip that step for sure next time. So after I managed to get it all out and into a jar (a challenge), I decided to try to thin it out with water, as you suggested. It seemed ok when warmed and mixed, though not nearly as smooth. Kind of lumpy in fact. but i figured it just wasnt mixed well enough. When it cooled though it became… Chalky. Not shiny or smooth, or as hard. But not as pretty either.
I made it with whole milk and 3/4 cup turbinado sugar and it came out perfectly! I was too nervous to leave it alone for 15 minute stretches so I hovered and probably over-stirred but it was fine. I had previously read the comments but didn’t understand the foamy bubbles until I actually added in the soda. It was a surprise. I didn’t have a vanilla bean so I stirred in a tsp. of vanilla and just for kicks, also stirred in a tsp. of ground cinnamon at the very end when I pulled the pot off the heat. I did discover that I really had to work to push it through the strainer into the jar and my yield was just barely over a cup. My kids and I devoured it over sliced pink lady apples and both kids went back for spoonfuls out of the jar. The scant quarter cup that is left will be a nice cream topping tonight. Great recipe! Wish it yielded more! The entire batch won’t make it beyond 8 hours in my house!
Ahh! Like Queue, I DID use UP goat milk. Maybe that was the problem! I will search for better milk next time (tonight). Hopefully that makes a difference.
Just made this, and I am not sure if I messed up or not because I’ve never had dulce de leche before. It looks and tastes like a thick caramel, but it’s more “globby”than”gooey”and the texture is a bit grainy, as if it curdled a bit. I used whole cow’s milk and a vanilla bean, and I added the baking soda solution. I put it back on the stove after I realized the texture was possibly a little off to see if cooking it longer would change it but it seemed to have no effect. Is there a common mistake I might have made, or is this just the texture and I’m unfamiliar? Thanks!
I am going to give it a try. I just got back from Argentina and I ate the best alfajores with dulce de leche in the world.
I made this today! I wanted to make it just like you did so i used goat milk. I was kind of worries at first, I didn’t know how “earthy” goat milk tastes and smells :) but it turned out delicious! Thanks!
I made the recipe today with goat’s milk and it got to be the correct color but it is hard enough to pull your teeth out. You can’t get a spoon into the jar at all. I’m wondering what I did wrong.
I made this with cow’s milk yesterday for a brunch today. Fabulous. It takes awhile, but is not at all difficult. I made it in a larger pot, which gave it more surface area and I think helped it cook down faster. Plus no risk of boiling over. Definitely making it again!
I made from scratch Dulce de Leche yesterday and boy, I’ll never go back to the sweetened condensed milk version. I made the sweetened condense milk version in canning jars in a crock pot rather than boiling cans – which is not good for you (this Scientific American article will tell you why: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talk-can-dont/).
Anyway, I think the from scratch version has much more depth of flavor. I made mine a little darker than you do, I like the richness that comes from the darker color and longer cooking. I like to have my Dulce thicker so I can spread it on things like cookies – then when I want it pourable I heat it up in the microwave.
Kate…mine is not even spreadable…it became really hard…any ideas?
I made this and gave it to a friend as a housewarming gift this weekend. It is so delicious! My friend said she was going to put a spoonful in her morning coffee. That seems like a great use of this wonderful dulce de leche.
I love dulce de leche creamer… i use it every morning! Is there a way you would recommend tweaking this recipe to make it for a coffee creamer… I have been looking for a way to do it!!!
Thanks for posting this!!!
I love this site and am a first-time commenter! I too had difficulties with the color and consistency. It got thick and never got dark. I salvaged it by colling it on parchment paper and rolling it into balls, which I then coated in chocolate. Voila, dulce de leche candies. My friends declared it the best cooking failure to ever happen, and they disappeared in one day. That said,I really want this to work for me…will try again with lower heat, less stirring, and goat milk instead of cows milk.
Thank you so much for adding the vegan recipes archives!! Yay!!! :) Your cilantro lime vinaigrette over roasted acorn squash is one of the best vegan recipes out there!
I’m from Argentina and we usually fill the crepes with dulce de leche (panqueques con dulce de leche). We put dulce de leche on everything!
I have become dulce de leche obsessed. This morning I discovered it’s wonderful on steel cut oatmeal! Anyway, I’ve been experimenting. I made three batches as follows.
1) Alton Brown’s recipe using 1 1/2 cup sugar. I cooked it over very low heat (bubbles barely breaking the surface) stirring every 15 minutes for the first hour and every 10 minutes for the second hour and almost constantly during the final stage. This batch was ready after 2 1/2 hours and was what I call “spoonable”. Very rich and almost the color of a copper penny. Yield: almost 2 cups.
2) Again, Alton’s recipe using 1 cup sugar. This one I cooked the same as above but I stopped the cooking process at a little over two hours. This one was “pourable” and had a less intense flavor. I’m on the fence if I like it with less sugar. Yield: almost 2 cups.
3) Same recipe, this time 1 1/4 cups sugar. This one I cooked at a low rolling boil. I stirred it every 10 minutes for the first hour and then almost constantly for the next half hour. By that time it was at the “spoonable” stage, not quite as dark as the others. I think I liked the sweetness level of this one the best. This yielded a little more than a cup. I think the flavor was a lot less intense than the other two, even though it was a very good dulce de leche.
My conclusion is that if you cook it at a very low heat you end up with a higher yield, richer flavor and darker color. It’s actually less work, in my opinion, since I had to stir it a lot less.
Try it in your coffee! Super yummy.
Yikes! Me too–same problems as others above–MAJOR curdling, all the way to the final product. I’m an experienced cook and followed the recipe to the letter. I did use raw sugar. Could that be the problem?
I have to say Deb that your recipes have never failed me. Which makes me positive that I did something seriously wrong on this one. I’m with Pam. Mine turned out incredibly hard. Like rock hard. I can’t put a spoon in it. I absolutely adore DDL and brought a jar or few back to NY from Argentina with me (they were gone in no time) and bought a quart of goats milk from trader joe’s immediately after I saw your recipe. I was itching to try it and finally got to it today. I am so disappointed as I WANT to be able to lick its goodness out of a jar and I can’t! Also the jar that I put it in is one of those Bonne Maman jam jars that I’m not sure is microwaveable. Please help! I’m hoping whatever I did can be corrected.
Just a follow up post this morning. I tried adding some water and took a chance with the Bonne Maman container in the microwave for a couple of mins. Bad idea. I should have kept an eye on the microwave but in making breakfast for my 1 and 3yr olds, I was otherwise occupied… the rock TOTALLY boiled over and we spent another 10 mins trying to clean up the mess. I only wish I had taken a picture.
The remaining DDL in the container was slightly softer but immediately upon spooning it out / cooling, it turned back into the sticky hard toffee mix that could pull out a tooth.
Feeling like an epic failure in the kitchen. Not bothered about the wasted 2.5 hours making this but I just wish I knew how to fix it
I found goats’ milk in my local supermarket in France- but it was semi-skimmed. So I topped it up with the end of a pot of creme fraiche, probably about 5 tablespoons worth, maybe a bit more. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe above, since this was a first try. And I had fresh vanilla pods that my parents had just brought back from Réunion…
My father commented that it tastes like “peanut butter with cinnamon”. I don’t agree in the slightest! It’s sweet, and smooth, and spoonable. I was going to give him some of mine to go on ice-cream, but instead, I’m going to keep it for my daughters’ pancakes.
Next time, I think I will try it without the cinnamon stick, since it did become a bit over-powering- the vanilla is barely there.
I made the goats milk cajeta last night. It was surprisingly easy to make. I didn’t have to stir it constantly and I was pleased that my electric range medium setting kept the milk at a nice simmer. It did take about 2 1/2 hours. The final product had a subtle tang like goats milk cheese has. The consistency is soft and pliable. I can spoon it up and also roll it into a little ball–not too sticky either. I rolled a few balls in chopped walnuts. Mine is not pourable. I was a little disappointed in the blandness of the flavor. I guess I was imagining more of a “burnt” sugar taste like at the bottom of a flan. It reminded me a bit of Jello Butterscotch pudding or Kraft Caramels. I think it will be good with apples or maybe mixed with freshly popped plain popcorn.
I made this last night with regular cow’s milk. I think I cooked it too long, waiting for it to get the nice dark color that I’ve had previously and like you have in the photos. It came out way too thick and almost toffee-like. I thinned it back out by pouring a couple of extra tablespoons of milk into the jar, microwaving, stirring, and repeating until I got the texture I was looking for. This worked great as a “rescue strategy”. Though it’s a little lumpier than what you get at the store, the texture and flavor is spot-on.
Just made this again with success! The first time I tried, I indeed cooked it too long. Thank you for the feedback!
Update again today: I poured smooth looking/tasting dulce de leche into a jar this afternoon, but now after leaving it to cool, it’s crystalized. I see in Deb’s reply to Steph that it shouldn’t crystalize. I’m not sure what went wrong – I had beautiful dulce de leche for one sweet moment in time! Feedback welcome! :)
Also – note to Anj, this sounds like what happened to me. Mine was so hard I couldn’t chop it even with a very sharp knife, hard as a rock. The second time I cooked it shorter and got something closer to what the recipe describes, for about 1 hour until it cooled and appears to have crystalized.
I just made this a few days ago. Wonderful recipe, it turned out perfectly! I kept it in the fridge and I’m afraid I kept snacking on it spoonful by spoonful during the day so it didn’t last long! My in-laws were staying with us and it’s the only dessert thing I have ever made that they actually ate! Thanks!
My mother had so much milk in the fridge that needed to be used & I was trying to think what to make with a glut of milk, until I remembered seeing this recipe – perfect timing Deb! Just made a double batch and it is delicious.
It is slightly grainy, which could be because i did it on an aga so couldn’t moderate the temperature, or because i took it off the heat before it was done as I had to serve dinner. Or over cooked it?
Still tastes fantastic; we served it over icecream made in the vitamix, which was just banana and light coconut milk – it didn’t need any additional sweetness as the dulce de leche was sweet enough. Heavenly.
I dont know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but in Mexico they also have cajeta envinada, which basically means it has liquor in it. Its just as yummy with a little kick.
I’ve tried to follow your example and adopt a devil-may-care attitude to candy. In result, I’ve made pepita brittle that turned out to be caramel (twice) and now goat milk caramel that turned into brittle. Not really, but it solidified into one big pliable mass, too dense to chew. I hear my candy thermometer laughing from the bottom drawer. Maybe it is totally my fault (it is certainly not yours, every non-candy recipe works for me) or maybe it is the high altitude and lower boiling temps here in the Mile High City?
Anyway, my son and I are licking away at clumps of caramel stuck tight to wooden spoons. Still delicious.
Hi Sarah — Being at a higher altitude can absolutely, definitely affect caramels and candy. Here’s one place to read more about it.
Seriously, that goat link? I was crying with laughter at the idea that I’d started looking at a recipe and ended up watching shouting goats. I probably won’t make dulce de leche, but I definitely WILL come back!
Um…. deliciousness!!!! We Russians love our dulce de leche. Will be giving this method a try. By the way, what brand is that saucepan you are using in this recipe?
I’m standing in front of an accidental tray of dulce de leche candies, not sauce. I realized in the final five or so minutes that we were clearly in “soft ball” temps and, rather than lose the whole thing, poured it into a tray (with a wax paper sling, a la the SK Cookbook apple cider caramels!). Samplings from my spoon suggest they are tasty – but watch out for your fillings and orthodontia! Is low heat best for the simmer? I was medium/medium low and think it was too high, but I worried that it would take too long at a lower temp.
I had the curdling problem too. Turbinado, no baking soda. I buzzed it up in my fancy-pants Vitamix and it smoothed out perfectly. Cooling now, curious to see if it separates. Will report back if it does.
I made cajeta this afternoon and it is wonderful. Mine took two hours, with me stirring constantly for the last 20 minutes or so. I used a wide, heavy bottomed pot, which is absolutely essential to keep from burning the milk. It never did darken like in the pictures, so I just kept putting little dabs into my jar to see how thick it got when cool, stopping when it was as thick as I liked. Oh, my goodness, it is sweet! I will definitely cut the sugar back a little bit next time. But it is incredibly delicious, with a deep, kind of funky taste from the goat milk. Such a winner. Thanks!
Thanks so much for the recipe, Deb, it tastes amazing. Now to make something to have it with… or I’ll be forced to eat it straight out of the jar :)
I’m going to cry, really! Since four years ago I became friend of Pepa (a dear exchange student in my city from Chile) and tasted her dulce de leche I desperately tried to find the right recipe to cook it myself. And here you write this and I fell like I’m in Heaven!
We used to do (as kids) this one in much easier way – 1-2 cans of sweet condensed milk drop in (sideways, not standing up) a pot of hot water and boil on low for an 1hr. Let cool, open the can and enjoy. My mom would whip it with butter to use for cake icings. Yum!
I’m Argentinian and I’ve never made dulce de leche from scratch – it was one of those things we always talked about doingwith my friends on rainy Sundays but never got around to. But something you can DEFINITELY do with it is alfajores: a cookie sandwich with dulce de leche in the middle. My grandma used to make “cornstarch cookies” (sugar cookies, a bit fluffier and less crispy, maybe from the addition of cornstarch?) there’s probably a recipe around if you look for “alfajores de maicena” (maicena=cornstarch)
I finally got around to making this last weekend and made the terrible mistake of skipping the baking soda after reading that it wasn’t mandatory. I though “meh, what’s a few lumps.” I also used fresh, raw (so non-homogenized) cow’s milk which may have contributed to the overly lumpy texture. Luckily I got plenty of great spoon licks in during the making, but the texture of the final product is really unappetizing. Next time I get my hands on some goat’s milk I’ll try again :)
I am making this to go with the Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart recipe in “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz, page 289.
I am so disappointed – mine has curdled and sounds similar to Julie’s experience. I used 2 pints of full fat pasteurised milk (not homogenised) that we get from the milkman here in the UK. I used a cinnamon stick, the Baking soda and sugar but no vanilla. It went through all the colour changes and looks a good colour now but has a horrible texture – I must admit I haven’t strained it I I don’t think there would be a lot left if I did! I did all the stirring as you suggested but mine probably took a bit longer to get to the darker brown stage. Any ideas please? Love your blog and recipes – no problems with them not working in the past!:-(
Love this recipe. I use it for pancakes, vanilla ice cream and iced coffee. It gets tricky when baking soda starts to foam, but the result is amazing. I made three jars so far. No problems. Thanks.
Hi Deb, I used 2% milk and mine turned out really grainy. Any thoughts as to why?? It still tastes good though.
Turns out, if you use cornstarch instead of baking soda, this makes a delightful cinnamon pudding!
That will teach me to label my jars better.
So… milking a goat twice a day has left me with a surfeit of milk. So I decided to make some cajeta.
The color is beautiful and it tastes great. BUT, it seems rather grainy and not like that oozy-gooey caramelly cajeta I love. What did I do wrong?
This is liquid gold Deb! It came out amazingly! Thanks so much!
We just tried this and it unfortunately turned into a really chewy caramel instead of the dulce de leche that we know and love. Is there a specific temperature that you’re supposed to cook it to? We cooked it until it was the color that’s in your photo but I guess that was too long. Help!
Hi Angie — I’m sorry I never grabbed a temperature. Next time I make this, I will not make the same mistake. Try reheating it with a little cream to loosen the mixture up. I hope that helps.
Just made this. Very yummy! The cinnamon is unexpected, but nice.
WOW! my children never quite get the concept of using the oldest bag of milk first but I’m trying to make a concious effort to waste less food. I was clearing out the fridge after the chag and found a bag of out of date milk. I was going to be spending the day in the kitchen anyway and thought of this recipe which I’d mentally noted when you originally posted it. This stuff is so fabulous. Some ended up in the jar anyway but I’m trying really hard not to go into the kitchen and eat the whole lot. Thanks Deb. Shanha Tovah. BTW the apple and honey cake was a big hit too.
In Belize we use the condensed milk and cook it and add sugar and butter along with nutmeg and cinnamon, and peanuts to make a harden form which we call fudge.Its pretty much the candy form. Trust me if you were every to try this you would love it.
Hi Deb! Where did you get the beautiful glass jars with metal clamp things? They are lovely.
Sarah — I usually get my clamp-top canning jars from Overstock, which usually has decent prices on 6-packs of them.
Hi Deb!! Thanks so much for the recipe, i am from Argentina and Dulce de Leche will be my one and only love forever haha we just get aling so well :) but seriously it brings me back to my roots, my home since i live in the US and its hard to find the authentic one and it is soo expensive as well. I tried the canned one tonight before reading your blog but its not quiet like the real deal, although it was very good. So my next step is to get together with the ingredients and a few hours of spare time and i will be making dulce de leche from scratch!! I cant wait!!
I’m delurking to say just tried this today and OH MY GAWD. I loved it so much! I used 3/4 cup of raw sugar, though, and pink salt, and I think I’m going to have to marry it. Thanks for the recipe! Your blog is amazing!
hi.i plan on making this but would use buffalo milk instead. i hope that would work. if i stop when it’s still thin and the color is pale tan like one of those pictures you have posted before the finished product, (like maybe reduced to about 2-3 cups) do you think it would work for flan? is it still going to be sweet and rich? im scared that it will be too thick for flan if i end up with just about 1 cup.
I haven’t worked at all with buffalo milk so I can’t say for sure it it will. But if you eyeball it, as you plan to, I think you’ll have as much luck as you can with it.
After a recent trip to Argentina I became obsessed with dulce de leche, and was excited to try the goat’s milk version. I had the same problem as several people, in that my finished product was hard, and not re-heatable for easy use.
I salvaged it into a more syrupy consistency by doing the following: Basically, start over with a smaller amount of the two main ingredients, and use it to reincorporate the “bad” batch. I added one cup of plain milk with 1/4 c. sugar to a saucepan and started cooking it on low/medium. Meanwhile, because I had poured my initial mixture into a glass jar, which was now a rock, I zapped it in the microwave with a drizzle of water, 20 seconds at a time, and at each interval spooned what I could, while it was slightly softened, into the saucepan with the new milk/sugar. It took a bit of muscle, and the texture became more crystallized, but I repeated this 3-4 times until I got almost all of it out of the jar (then got the jar soaking in hot water). I used a whisk and spatula to break up the large chunks, and kept heating on low/medium until it had dissolved and reached a uniform consistency. Then I basically followed the recipe again from the end (after the initial hour of stove time), this time using a candy thermometer to ensure my temp didn’t get too high (I didn’t watch like a hawk, but it was definitely below 220 the whole time). I’d say I simmered it for another 15 minutes or so to let it thicken a bit, and then poured it back into my jar. It’s still slightly firm when cold, but I think is true to Deb’s version in that it can be spooned out and/or reheated to more of a syrup. It kicked ass on my oatmeal this morning :) For some of you, redoing the whole recipe might be easier (use a candy thermometer!), but I hate waste so for me it was worth it to make this work.
Hi, I have been enjoying this delicious goat’s milk caramel (Cajeta) since my childhood. It is a very popular dessert in Mexico. I have never made this but will give it a go. I was looking for a dulce de leche cake recipe but stumbled upon this recipe. Let’s see how it goes! I love, love, love cajeta de leche de cabra!
I tried this and it definitely doesn’t look syrupy like in the picture. Maybe I boiled it slightly too long because it turned out grainy like others’ attempts. I added water which makes it seem too liquidy. Still tastes great though. Curious to see what cooling it does to it. It made a bit more than a cup.
I’ll try this recipe, but we are trying to get rid of sugar (and artificial sweeteners) at home. I’m wondering if the milk sugars are enough to get the results without adding any sugar.
So, this actually turned out very well (dark, with that wonderful silky stickiness), but it thickened up far too much. It was like stirring peanut butter or taffy when hot, and cooled to nearly hard candy texture, which somehow make it bland.
It turned out to be rescuable: I simply dumped water into the pot and boiled it while doing my best to stir. My arm felt ready to fall off between this and stirring it when it was so thick, but it did work well. I had to add more water than I thought I would, because it needed to dissolve everything nicely, and then I boiled the final mixture back down to the texture that I wanted. Doing this, but with less water would, I suspect, help with graininess as well.
Do you think the excessive thickness came from overly vigorous boiling? Should I have cooked it more gently?
The final result was completely delicious, and my husband is obsessed, but I’d like my next attempt to be somewhat less strenuous.
celesul — Glad you enjoyed it. Probably it got reduced too much, which can happen when going for the best color. I might add a little extra milk at the end instead of water, which might discourage grittiness/crystallization.
Hi Deb! I never thought of adding a cinnamon stick to dulce de leche but it sounds like it could totally work! I’m from Argentina so we eat a lot of this stuff but I never really make it because my dad (and every single elder) always say that “it must be made with raw milk!” haha…
I didn’t know the difference between cajeta and dulce de eche so thanks for that info!
Another thing the old peeps say is that you should add glass beads to the pot so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom (in also they do the stirring by themselves apparently?)
How long can I store it?
I’ve made cajeta number of times and have had the curdling problem with some types of sugar. If you are one of the poster’s that experienced curling, try a different sugar. As Lina (post #41) said, brown sugar is slightly acidic – enough so that it curdles the mixture (much like lemon juice curdles milk when making ricotta). I have had success with white sugar but had curdling with brown cane sugar (also called panela).
Could you fix the it’s/its in “It’s scope is not limited”?
All fixed (there was another too). Can you imagine what my books’ copyeditor must go through?
Yum! I am going to have to try this! The first time I ever had cajeta, it was served over vanilla bean ice cream with pine nuts sprinkled on top. So simple but so delicious!
Do you think this can be made in an instapot?
I don’t have any experience with them so I cannot say for sure but I’d say if you could make dulce from canned condensed milk, perhaps you could make this too with more time. It does need to be stirred, however.
This looks dangerous!
Writing in to report batch success! I made a x12 batch today in three large pots (1 gal / pot) and all turned out well, though it took closer to three hours. The total yield was about 5 quarts, or 1.5 cups cajeta per quart of milk.
Also, a suggestion for adding baking soda to cajeta: temper it. Rather than moving the whole pot to the sink (especially if it’s a big one!), dilute the baking soda in a small pot, then add a couple scoops of the hot milk mixture (over the sink). Once the foam has subsided, add back to the main pot. I didn’t see any reaction when combining in the the big pot, as long as I let the smaller bit run its course and settle down before mixing.
Made this today, and while the method is inarguably great, I really wish I hadn’t added the cinnamon stick. I was in two minds about it but thought I’d give it a try, and even with a small piece of a not-particularly-fresh cinnamon stick, the flavor was overwhelming and distracting. I’ll leave it out next time. I used mine to sandwich pecan shortbread cookies and topped with a restrained pinch of flaky salt, and it was quite tasty.
Forgot to mention…I used the baking soda and I could smell it the whole time it was cooking which concerned me because my palette is really sensitive to the flavor of baking soda, but it was undetectable in the finished product… Maybe because of the cinnamon.
I want to make this for holidays gifts for my extended family. I was wondering if it’s possible to increase the quantity made to more than just one cup of finished product? Could I increase the amount made without throwing off the cooking time?
You may want to check out traditional Indian kulfi (ice cream) which is made in a similar process then frozen.
Making this the first time, it came out a little fudgy and not the smooth, creamy dulce de leche I’ve bought. Perhaps it crystalized a little? Do you have any tips for improving my technique?
I attempted this recipe last night and after a little over 2 hours I’m afraid it wasn’t a complete success. The flavor is good, but once it noticeably started thickening, it became super grainy. I wanted it to be a little thicker than what the pictures show, so I cooked it a little longer than the recipe calls for, and unfortunately it just got grainier. Straining it didn’t help, and I’m not sure where I went wrong. I saw a few comments with similar complaints, but I didn’t see any resolutions.
I would love it if someone could offer some advice. I did some research and read that it could be because I didn’t bring the temperature up high enough in the beginning and also subbing at least a portion of the milk for cream can also make a smoother dulce de leche. I’m making it for an Argentinian audience so sadly only perfection will do. I used whole cow’s milk, added vanilla extract at the very end, and stayed in the kitchen and stirred regularly for the whole 2 hours. I would love to be able to get this recipe right, so please help!
I have been a fan of cajeta since trying the Paleton ( cajeta lollipops from Mexico) , and recently we came across super discounted cans of Meyenberg goat milk powder ($5.75 per 12 oz can or half of regular price at WholeFoods). I am thinking (from an amateur food scientist POV) that I can reduce some of the cookdown of water with this powder, and also avoid some of the crystallization by ensuring that some of the sugar sucrose is “inverted” to glucose. I have a number of ideas of how to incorporate these, and was looking for confirmation in someone’s recipe tweaks ;-)
Bravo to those here sharing, good point on tempering bicarb needed to catalyze Maillard browning reactions which generates the complex flavors from protein and inverted sugars. Will post some tweaks as I my trials bear fruit!
Just made this and it turned out amazing!! Made ice cream sundays and almost finished the whole thing. I halved the sugar and it still worked and tasted awesome.
Dulce de Leche is inside profiteroles with salted roasted white chocolate on top, and pickled green apples to come!
Totally worth the time!
‘Cinnamon-y’ does not need a hyphen.
Can you please clarify when/where the flaky sea salt comes into play? Is it added to the top once cooled?
Oops! I add it at the end. If you add before you’ve reduced it to the texture you want, you might end up with too much salt in it.
Does it have to be refrigerated? Thinking of Christmas gift packs….
Here is where I am definitely not a food safety expert, so I cannot be more helpful. I’d say yes, because it’s all dairy in there, but I also know that caramel candies that are also all dairy don’t have to stay chilled. It could be canned, but I’d refer to canning guidelines since it may not have the right acidity level to be canned safely. If you’re giving it as gifts, however, I wouldn’t expect it to go bad if out of the fridge for half a day and you suggested that people chill it when they got home.
How long does this keep? I would like to make some as a Christmas present to my girlfriend. She loves dulce de leche.
It should keep in the fridge for a month, and probably longer.
I’ve made this twice, and really enjoyed the experience both times. The smell is so insanely good, which makes the extended cooking time feel like a joy.
The first time it tasted amazing and was a good spoonable thickness, but the color was much lighter than the photos here (it was more of a darkish tan?), so I figured I had messed up by taking it off too early. (Not really sure why I questioned myself because it tasted great, as I said, haha.)
I made it a second time later and thought “I’ll try to get that nice darker color” and left it longer during the “then plant yourself in front of the stove and stir the mixture until it reaches a deeper copper color” step. The final result was indeed darker, but a bit too thick to be able to spoon or spread. It required microwaving each time I wanted to eat/use it. I eventually (days later) decided to try to thin it out a bit with some milk, after having warmed it in the microwave. This worked, but left some small crystallized sugar chunks behind, which I felt was a fair tradeoff.
In summary: when I make this again, I’ll just follow the guidelines of timing, rather than striving for a particular color.
I had a bit of trouble making this and I suspect it was due to the pot I used (a quite large enameled cast iron) and possibly not being careful enough with the temperature (it might have been slightly too high and the largeness of the pot disguised this because it was too big to boil over…?). In any case, I ended up with a very, very thick caramel that quickly hardened into a rock-like lump when I took it off the stove. I regrouped and was actually able to revive it later by reheating the lump to get it to soften a wee bit and then adding some milk and rum in (the rum also gave it a deliiightful little extra flavor). I ended up using it for alfajores and they were delicious!
I have kept this post in the back of my mind since it was first published, and after a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta where we had crepes filled with cajeta and cream cheese at a taco stand, I feel compelled to make it ASAP. I don’t know how the cream cheese pairing didn’t occur to me before, but I wanted to mention it as a serving suggestion. The unsweetened cream cheese beautifully exaggerates the tang of the cajeta, but the sweet, nutty caramel notes provide contrast and balance. We couldn’t believe our mouths after that first bite. Can’t wait to try out the homemade version this weekend for a dinner party! Thanks Deb for sharing this and allowing me to bring a great experience home!
Thank you Deb! This has been the perfect Easter cake filling in my family for years now, so, SO good! This year, though, for the life of me I can’t seem to get fresh goat’s milk anywhere. It’s infuriating! Do you think it would work with UHT goat’s milk, as well? Or is that like listening to Beethoven on a smartphone speaker? I’ll continue looking, but I’m running out of time…
This might be the best thing I have made…
I made this exactly, but with one adjustment. I read the comments that people were getting grainy caramel. So what i did was after the caramel was done, i added half the amount in water, then boiled it again for 5 minutes. The result is a beautiful creamy dulce de leche… I am enjoying it on a spoon!!
Can you please clarify how much water you added?
Dulce de leche is the best substance on earth and I’ve been wanting to make it from scratch for a long time. Always used the can method and wasn’t totally happy with it. This method turned out great but took a really long time – almost 2 hours even though it was at a very brisk simmer. It kept almost boiling over and I’d save it at the last minute. So not sure why it took so long. My question is, can I do this in an instant pot? Would it work without all the stirring? Thanks!
Dulce de leche is one for my all time favorite things and until now I was too intimidated to actually try making it. But it was actually a lot easier than I thought and turned out amazing. I used to make a dulce de leche cheese cake that was absolutely incredible!!!
Can you make this with coconut milk, almond milk or any other non animal milk?
Good advice ! Interesting sounds cozy! I’m most interested in the Dolce delete.
Would this be thick enough to use to fill sufganiyot? My kids are not jelly fans.
Can this be made lactose free?
Can I use 2% milk? Also, can Dulce de leche freeze?
I just made this for the first time and cooked it until it was a beautiful copper color but then I could barely get it out of the pan before it began to set up and is very hard…hardly a sauce. What’s up?
I made this once with goat’s milk in the US and it was incredible. I’ve now tried it twice in Europe and had bad curdling occur both times. So disappointing as the recipe is somewhat time-intensive (for me) and goat’s milk isn’t cheap.
Has anyone got any new insights or is it just time to write this one off?