DIY: Homemade Dulce de Leche

How many times have you come across an ingredient in a recipe that you just can’t find in your regular grocery store?  For me, it’s been countless times, and dulce de leche is one of those elusive ingredients that continues to confound me.  I often think that my grocery store has a fairly extensive selection of ethnic food but then again, I can’t find things like decent lo mein noodles or Thai chili paste…or dulce de leche, a product as common in Latin American markets as peanut butter is in any traditional grocery store in the U.S.  The first time I needed dulce de leche for a recipe, I foolishly spent over $10 on a jar from a specialty food store.

DIY: Homemade Dulce de Leche

Well, never again.  Never.  Ever.  Because I have found the secret to this elusive ingredient: a $2 can of sweetened condensed milk.  Yup, that’s all you’ll need!  Prick a tiny hole in the top of the can (this is a must!!), boil the heck out of the can for about 3 1/2 hours, and you will end up with simply gorgeous and over-the-top amazing dulce de leche.  It’s deeper, richer, and thicker in consistency than caramel and is fantastic in frosting (or this recipe), over ice cream, as a dip for apples or pretzels, as a filling in cupcakes or cookies, swirled into hot chocolate or a latté, spooned into mason jars for Christmas treat packages (it does need to be refrigerated though!)…I’m sure you guys could come up with a 100 more uses aside from eating straight off a spoon.  I have two more uses for it that I’ll share with you before Christmas so you may want to pick up a can or two sweetened condensed milk this weekend!