The Easiest Way To Make Dulce De Leche At Home

Dessert sauces are the cherry on top of so many of the world's favorite sweets. There's molten fudge for ice cream sundaes and lava cakes, or caramel to finish off bundt cakes and beyond. Perhaps the sweetest of all is a sauce from the Deeper South — the South so deep that it's on the other side of the equator. Dulce de leche is a favorite spread all over Latin America (though Argentina seems particularly addicted and claims original ownership, not surprisingly, per Taste Atlas). Thanks in part to Häagen-Dazs' introduction of dulce de leche ice cream in 1997, says The Gothamist, dulce de leche has become increasingly popular among Americans with a sweet tooth — but it doesn't always need to be bought at the store.

While making caramel is a chemical process that occurs through heating sugar (just one form of the Maillard reaction), dulce de leche is produced similarly, but with the addition of milk. When heated for a long period, the sweetened milk takes on the golden color, creamy consistency, and warm sweetness we know and love about dulce de leche. What not all aficionados realize, however, is just how easy the spread is to make at home.

Put a can of condensed milk in simmering water, and wait

After it's heated for several minutes, the sugary milk you use to make dulce de leche essentially becomes condensed milk, which is milk that's been heated to remove much of its water content and is typically sweetened. You know what condensed milk usually comes in? A can. Cans, amigos, are heat resistant — which means you can skip some steps in the dulce de leche making process by heating up some condensed milk right in the can.

To pull this off, all you need is the can, a pot of water, and some patience. Taste of Home says to peel the label off the condensed milk, then submerge the closed can completely in the water and heat the whole thing for an hour and a half. Let it cool in the same water, open it up, and, if all went well, you'll have dulce de leche. A caveat: The outlet "does not recommend" this method since it doesn't allow you to see the milk while it's cooking, not to mention the possibility that "the can could explode." Nevertheless, others have tried and attest for its success.

Preppy Kitchen recommends simmering the milk over medium heat for up to three hours (the longer you cook it, the deeper the color and flavor, so chef's choice!). The Tough Cookie, who has tried the trick multiple times with no explosions to date, stresses the importance of keeping the can completely covered with water for the entire process; this isn't something you can totally walk away from. Think of it as a chemistry experiment that makes dessert for you. Dulce de leche: #BecauseScience.