For Easy Caramel Sauce, Grab A Single Canned Pantry Staple

Need to throw together a super-easy dessert? Ice cream will work in a pinch, as will sliced pound cake or even a bowl of sliced fruit, but if you really want something special, you can dress any or all of these up with a simple homemade sauce. In fact, to make this caramel sauce, you won't even need to open a can. At least, not until you want to eat the stuff. The reason? You'll be cooking the one and only ingredient — which is sweetened condensed milk — right in the can.

What you do is, you fill a pot of water, then boil it. Once it heats up, carefully drop in the unopened can (tongs will help with this), then let it cook for an hour. If the water starts boiling over, turn down the heat, but keep it bubbling away. After an hour is up, turn off the heat, then take out the can. You can use the tongs again to avoid touching hot metal, or you can instead gently pour the hot water down the sink. Let the can cool until you can pick it up with your hands without hurting yourself, then employ the can opener and enjoy your caramel-drizzled just desserts.

You can also bake that can in the oven

While boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk on the stovetop is easy as apple pie (which would be another great way to use the sauce, btw), there's more than one way to cook your caramel as another method involves using your oven. Pour the milk into a 9-inch pan. (A cake pan, pie plate, or anything of this size should work.) Use a sheet of foil to cover the pan, then put it into yet another, larger, pan with sides. Fill the larger pan halfway with water to make a bain marie, which is fancy foodie talk for a water bath. (As opposed to a mud bath, since these are far too messy for baking purposes.)

Bake the condensed milk "pie" until it's brown enough, thick enough, and caramel-y enough for your purposes. Give it a good stir and get set to start drizzling. If you want it thicker, though, perhaps a dulce de leche-type consistency, you can always keep cooking for a while longer. Just be sure to check and stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure the caramel doesn't scorch or stick to the bottom of the pan.