Have you ever had Dulce de Leche? It is a heavenly sauce that is very similar to caramel except Dulce de Leche is made from milk and not sugar.
It is amazing on ice cream, with slices apples, graham crackers or cookies, drizzle it on warm apple pie…. really anything you put caramel on.
And you can make Dulce de Leche so easily and have a wonderful treat to eat with all those apples in season right now. I’ll tell you, I eat this straight from the jar because it really is a creamy wonderful bite of heaven.
This makes the easiest little fall gift ever as you will see below, but here is the scoop. All you need to do is either boil sweetened condensed milk over the stove for a few hours or just put it in the crock pot. I prefer the crock pot so I don’t have to keep an eye on it. You will get the same results either way.
So start out by buying Sweetened Condensed Milk in the baking aisle of your store. It should be about $2.00. Try to avoid the pop top can if you possibly can. My favorite brand is Eagle though and I only find it in pop top. Don’t get evaporated milk- make sure it is condensed milk.
This is what it looks like- I did nothing at all except open the can and pour it in the jar. Screw the lid on tightly. That is it.
I have been making this for a few years and it really can’t be any easier.
These are the steps that I take and in the end you will have a rich, creamy and wonderful sauce.
1. I prefer to open the condensed milk and empty the can into a mason jar. You can leave it in the can to cook but I find it easier this way. The beauty of the mason jar is that it is ready for gift giving literally straight from the crock pot. You could make several of these at once and knock out several gifts in one shot.
2. If it is in a mason jar, seal the jar tightly and place in a crock pot upright.
3. If you leave it in the can, you want to line your crock pot with either foil or a crock pot cover or place a bowl or plate at the bottom. This is just in case you have any rust issues with the can.
4. Next fill the crock completely with water until it is covering the milk. If your milk is in a mason jar you don’t need to cover the jar, just where the milk line is.
5. Set the timer for low heat for 8 hours. It is perfectly fine if you leave it in the crock for longer if your Crock Pot has a timer on it to shut off. Sometimes mine goes off in the middle of the night and the crock pot shuts itself off and the caramel sauce is fine to sit in the warm bath for a few more hours.
After 8 hours go ahead and remove.
If your caramel is in a mason jar you can carefully remove the lid right away if you like (it will be hot so be careful!). If it is in a can you want to let it cool for at least 2 hours. I stopped leaving mine in the can when I opened the pop up can before it was cool enough and hot caramel sauce splashed everywhere (ouch!!). If you do use a pop top can be really careful because there is a very small chance it could explode in the crock. (I doubt it but you never know).
If you prefer to use the stove top just put your can in a large pot and boil for 3 hours. Be very careful that you check all the time to make sure the water level stays completely covering the can. I would avoid pop top cans on the stove top. I think a mason jar would work but I have not personally tried it.
And now sit down and enjoy the wonderful fruits of your hard work!! It is all ready to eat!
Oh and if you are a salted caramel sauce kind of person (and I am!!) just sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top. My favorite is Himalayan Pink Sea Salt- you can get it at Target.
And look how easy this is as a gift? Just pop in a basket with apples or with an apple pie and viola! A wonderful, cheap and easy little gift idea!
For those that found the texture too thick- that is actually what Dulce de Leche is supposed to be but if you want it thinner like a caramel sauce- the caramel was cooked for too long.
I just made this for the zillionth time and tried it in my tiny, cheap Crock Pot and the caramel just wasn’t cooking fast enough. I transferred it to my better quality Crock Pot and then completely forgot it was in there :). It cooked about 2 hours longer than it should and the sauce was delicious but very thick. I am thinking that is likely what happened for some of you that got the flan texture- it cooked at too high of a temp and for too long. All Crock Pots are a little different so just take it out sooner next time.
? do you put the lid on the crockpot while simmering??
Hi Nancy- yes keep the lid on.
This sounds great! How long does it stay good for?
Hi Lynsie- it is sort of like jelly- it will last ages in the fridge. And even if you have it around a long time you can always toss it and make fresh- the condensed milk is so cheap and it really is so simple to do. 🙂
should salt be added before or after cooking? can you use this in recipes? will it set up in baked items – like carmel cashew bars?
I’m just finishing up a batch done in half pint jars and one can of SCM. It seems to be doing very well, and the color (I peeked) is a beautiful caramel color. I think doing this in jars on the stove top works very well.
Carrie Lyn says
Hello! wonderfully easy! How much salt would I add to the mason jar if I wanted to do salted caramel?
Carrie- in my experience salt overpowers really quickly. Add a smidge and keep adding until the flavor is right 🙂 A teaspoon would be too much in my opinion- try with a pinch from your fingers and see.
Did it have a smell? I think I have left mine in to long or maybe the can was bad but it smelled kinda like bad milk.
Codi- absolutely not. Your can might have been bad. Did you check the expiration?
Works great!! Keeps in fridge forever lol. Kids love it with fresh sliced apples and even good drizzled warm and let cool on cheese cakes.
Oh yummy Daryl 🙂
If you pull it from crock pot when done and leave lid on. Will it seal so that you don’t have to store in fridge if you give it as a gift
Can I cook it in the crock pot for 4 hours on high or does it need to cook on low heat?
Rebekah– I think high is Ok just check it often. If it cooks too long it will be stiff like a creme brûlée and not the runnier consistency of caramel. It will still taste delicious but it will be thicker.
Lillian Reese says
Does it taste like real caramel and can you can it to store up for later?
Hi Lillian- yes it tastes like real caramel and it stores very well for a few weeks 🙂
Nicole Visconti says
Do I need to store it in the refrigerator right away? I am making these as gifts
Hi Nicole, Caramel will be fine out of the fridge for awhile. Enjoy!
Patrizia Marziali says
Hi Charlene, did you ever try adding butter to it before cooking to make butter caramel, and if so, how was the consistency?
Patrizia Marziali says
Hi Charlene, did you ever try adding butter to it before cooking to make butter caramel, and if so, did it work ok? how was the consistency?
No I sure haven’t. That sounds delish though!
How high do you fill the mason jars
This.Is.Amazing!! Was looking for a simple gift for those “extras” that you always have during the holidays and will definitely be a repeat gift!
Yeah! So glad to hear that Candace.
Gayle Houser says
Just made this today. Wow!!! Can’t wait to eat it on ice cream.
Oh yeah! Enjoy Gayle 🙂
Teresa Teater says
Hi, looks so yummy. I want to actually can this for family as gifts. I’m guessing it will seal the lids as it cools, do you think that they will be ok on shelf ? Ty so much for sharing this with us
Yes I think it should be fine shelf stable. Once you start eating it though, I would put it in the fridge. 🙂
Laura Parker says
Can you cook more than one jar at a time?