1 Ingredient Dulce De Leche "Caramel"
Through and through, I am a hot fudge girl. I have never been a big caramel person, and I also hate that it can be pronounced 4,000 different ways... “KARR-muhl”, “KARR-uh-muhl”, “CARE-uh-mel”... and no matter how you say it, someone’s got beef.
I’m not a huge fan of making my own at home caramel either, because when it comes to the stove top, I’m wayyyyyy too impatient for all that sugar to turn an amber color, so I overdo it on the heat and… well.. I have chunky caramel that I’m never willing to show anyone.
So for years, I’ve been against all recipes that call for homemade caramel because I am a failure, though I also refuse to buy the store bought stuff... BUT, about 2 years ago, my life was changed forever. I was shown that you, yes YOU, can make delicious “caramel” with ONE ingredient. There’s also a few different ways to make it, depending on how busy you are, and how much time you have. I’m going to show you my favorite 2 ways!
Technically… It’s not “caramel” per say… I’ll call it Dulce De Leche if that makes you feel better, but I can tell you that it is a creamy, sweet, browned sugary, mouth watering invention, that I WISH I could take credit for, though I can’t quite remember where I even heard about this first to give that person credit. Whoever you are, I love you. Lets make some “caramel” people!
What You Need:
1-300 cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (I say to 300 because 301 would just be overkill). Do not buy the pull tab cans if you’re doing the CrockPot version! VERY IMPORTANT.
A CrockPot OR access to an oven
If you’re not going the CrockPot method, you’ll need 2 dishes:
How To Make (CrockPot Version, 6-8 hours)
Remove the labels from the sweetened condensed milk cans. Double check that these are NOT tab cans, meaning you want to use the cans that you would have to break out the can opener for, even though you won’t actually be opening the cans for a while.
IF YOU USE TABBED CANS, the internal pressure may cause the cans to burst. I’ve never had this personally happen, but I know someone who has, and it was not a fun experience for them. You lose all your “caramel”, and someone could get hurt!
Organize cans in a single layer in your CrockPot and fill the CrockPot with water far above the cans. You can absolutely make more than one canned “batch” at a time.
If you decide to make multiple, you can simply store unopened cans away until you’re ready to use them!
Set your CrockPot to LOW for 6-8 hours (CrockPots vary on temperature, so it may take a few times for you to get the right texture for whatever you are using your “caramel” for.
Remove cans from the CrockPot using tongs and allow cans to cool completely. If you open them while they are still hot, you will encounter lava “caramel” that will most definitely hurt you.
Once you open cans, if you notice there is still a bit of white in the middle of your “caramel”, you can stir it in, but the “caramel” will be thinner and you may even be able to drizzle it on things. If you prefer thicker “caramel”, simply increase your cook time next time around (up to 2 additional hours in the CrockPot), for thinner, decrease time.
Store unopened cans in your pantry until expiration date on the can, or keep opened cans in the fridge for 3-4 weeks (if it makes it that long).
How To Make (Oven Version, 1.5-2.5 hours)
If I’m in a time bind, and have no backup CrockPot Dulce De Leches, I’ll use this version. I also prefer this version if you’re trying to get a specific consistency of “caramel” and don’t want to chance it because you can see the color of the “caramel” through the glass dishes here.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
Open one can of sweetened condensed milk and pour into your smaller baking dish. Cover tightly with foil.
Set smaller baking dish inside larger baking dish, fill larger baking dish with water slightly above the level of where the milk is inside the smaller dish (basically making a double boiler for your oven).
Carefully put all dishes in the preheated oven and check every 15 minutes after the first hour.
VERY carefully, remove the dishes from the oven when you have achieved whatever color you prefer. The darker it is, the more dense the “caramel” will be.
Remove foil and whisk “caramel”. There may be a slight skin to the mixture and you’ll want to incorporate that to the mixture before it cools.
Let “caramel” cool and enjoy, or cool completely and store for up to 4 weeks in the fridge.
For both methods, the mixture will thicken as it cools. Warm it up to make it more spreadable, and if it still won’t spread, you may have just overcooked it. This stuff is RICH, so add it to whatever recipes you desire, but bear in mind that it is a bit more sweet and thick than real caramel. I’ve put this on cinnamon rolls, cakes and cookies, in my coffee, or just topped waffles and pancakes with it. Repackage it around the holidays and pretend you slaved hours at the stove over it. It’s THAT delicious, and awful for you I’m sure, but SO nommy. Enjoy!