How to Make Dulce de Leche (Thick Caramel Dessert Sauce)

Dulce de Leche
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  • 01 of 07

    Measure the Ingredients

    Dulce de Leche Ingredients. Marian Blazes

    Dulce de leche (literally "Sweet or Candy of Milk") is a rich caramel sauce that is enjoyed daily throughout South America. Homemade dulce de leche requires a little extra time and patience, but the results are superior to store-bought. This step by step guide will show you exactly how to make it.

    Start with the following ingredients:

    • 1 (14 ounce) can of condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
    • 1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • Generous pinch of salt...MORE (optional)
    • Cinnamon sticks (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
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  • 02 of 07

    Start Cooking

    Beginning to Cook the Milk & Cinnamon. Marian Blazes

    Place the evaporated milk and the condensed milk in your heaviest pot. Add the cinnamon sticks, baking soda and a pinch of salt. (Salt is not traditional but helps intensify the flavor).

    Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly. The water will begin to evaporate as steam.

    Stir steadily with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

    Adjust the temperature so that the mixture stays just barely at a simmer.

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  • 03 of 07

    Keep Stirring!

    Starting to Thicken. Marian Blazes

    The mixture will begin to thicken and darken in color. The foamy bubbles on the surface will disappear.

    Keep stirring! This is the part the requires patience. Call a friend, listen to the radio, have a cup of coffee...

    Tip: If you need to leave the mixture unattended for a few minutes, remove it from the heat until you are ready to continue.

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  • 04 of 07

    Getting Close

    Forming Large Bubbles. Marian Blazes

    Continue to stir until the mixture is making large bubbles, is very thick, and is a golden caramel color. It's very important to stir constantly at this point to prevent burning.

    Tip: If the mixture starts to stick to the bottom and burn, you can quickly pour it into a clean pot. If there are burnt pieces visible in the mixture, strain it through a fine mesh sieve as you pour it into the new pot. Lower the heat a little and continue cooking and stirring.

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  • 05 of 07

    How to Tell if the Dulce de Leche Is Ready

    Forming a Ribbon. Marian Blazes

    Lift the spoon out of the pot and drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the surface. If it forms a ribbon that does not disappear after 10 seconds or so, it is ready.

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  • 06 of 07

    Another Way to Check if It's Ready

    Dark Golden Caramel Color. Marian Blazes

    You can also check for doneness by dragging the spoon along the bottom of the pot. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds before the mixture closes in on itself and covers the bottom again.

    The mixture will have been simmering for 30-45 minutes.

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  • 07 of 07

    Finishing Touches and ¡Listo! - It's Ready!

    Ready to Serve. Marian Blazes

    Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

    Remove cinnamon sticks and stir in the vanilla and the corn syrup.

    Let cool completely.

    Serving Suggestions:

    Dulce de leche is delicious by itself, as a topping for ice cream, spread between cake layers, or even spread on toast. It's the filling for the popular sandwich cookies alfajores. Try the chocolate variation, which is made by folding melted chocolate into the dulce de leche, and use it to fill chocolate alfajores.