Caramel, known in Spanish cuisine as Dulce de Leche, is created by heating sweetened condensed milk for several hours. One of the most common methods is to cook the milk with the can intact. This is done by boiling or heating in the oven. While cooking the milk in the unopened can has been the method of choice for many generations, and is generally safe, a small chance exists that the can will explode. Because of this, cooks sometimes pour the uncooked milk into an oven-proof glass container, put that in a larger pan with water and then bake it in the oven. One safe way to make your caramel without taking it out of the can is to combine these two methods.
Things You'll Need
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- Can puncher
- Stove-top pan
- Boiling water
Peel the label from the can of condensed milk and discard.
Poke a couple of holes in the top of the can with the opener.
Put the can into the stove-top pan.
Pour boiling water into the stove-top pan until it is close to, but not up to, the top. Bring back to a gentle simmer and maintain the simmer. For light, liquid caramel, cook for an hour and a half. For thick, dark caramel, simmer for up to four hours.
Take the can from the water using tongs and allow it to cool before use.
Tips & Warnings
- It is not necessary to make large openings in the top of the can. One on either side of the can will be sufficient. These holes act as pressure-release options in case too much heat builds up.
- To make Dulce de Leche outside the can, pour contents into a heat-proof dish and place the dish in a water bath. Do not allow the water to rise high enough to mix with the milk.
- Boil the sweetened condensed milk long enough to turn the caramel as dark and thick as you like. Experimenting will suggest the best timing for your caramel.
- For piercing the top of the milk can, an old-fashioned punch and cover device works perfectly. A large, clean nail also can be used to punch the holes, as can the standard can punch that opens a triangular-shaped hole..
- Attempting to create caramel by heating the can unopened is usually safe if the can is not subjected to extreme temperatures. Keep the water level high and do not boil rigorously. A gentle simmer will do.
- The can of caramel will be hot for some time after cooking. Handle with care and do not open fully until contents have cooled.