Do you consider yourself a dulce de leche aficionado? If so, you’re living right. If not…seriously, why? You probably haven’t tried dulce de leche. Or at least not the right one. Which is an unfortunate and sad place many of us find ourselves. We either crave this food heaven or see it in a recipe and we need it this instant. But sometimes, it’s nowhere to be found. Fortunately for me, Miami is a good place to find dulce de leche. That’s because a whopping majority of the population is Hispanic. It’d be weird if it wasn’t easily located. Its whereabouts are a problem when you venture up a bit north, and a huge dilemma when you find yourself the Northeast or other areas of the US (out outside of the US, like Italy) that do not have the strong hispanic influence.
Dulce de leche is essentially stirred milk with cream, sugar, and a bit of vanilla. I contemplated making it in Italy with fresh goat and sheep milk in the form of cajeta, but I ran out of time. Luckily for us though, most food establishments do carry sweetened condensed milk, which dulce de leche can be made from, on the stove, if you want to stand there for three hours and stir it. I don’t know about you, but I have more important things to do. Rissotto already takes a lot out of me and that’s just 30 minutes. You can also boil the can of sweetened condensed milk, or cook it in a water bath in your oven, but that freaks me out. I don’t want to be the one person that dies from sweetened condensed milk explosion in the face. No gracias.
If you bust out your slow cooker, though, dulce de leche can appear in your kitchen without any effort. The type of dulce de leche that your insides desire, the ones hidden down here in Colombian restaurants, arequipe, in your neighborhood Cuban establishment, bakeries, or the always reliable Publix. You can literally take two cans of sweetened condensed milk, cover them with water, press “on” on your slow cooker, go about your day, and come home to thick unctuous gold. Gold that is more valuable to me than the jewelry stuff, because it can be eaten as an accompaniment to fruit, yogurt, with cookies, sandwiched into cakes and pastries, made into guava candies, or let’s get real here, right out of the can with your spoon or with your tongue. I won’t tell anyone and no one will see you.
The next time you can’t find dulce de leche, know that you can with just an ounce of wiggle room. Slow and smooth, just the way it’s supposed to be.
Slow cooker dulce de leche
Makes 2 (14-ounce) cans dulce de leche
Notes: This can be made one of two ways. You can either cook the dulce de leche straight in its can, then transfer it to a jar and move to your fridge where it will last a few days. Or, you can put the sweetened condensed milk into canning jars, tighten them, and put them in the slow cooker that way. The latter will last longer, but it’s up to you and how you want to go about this, and your dulce de leche plans. Both methods are outlined below.
8 hours of cooking will produce the type of dulce de leche I like. Which is extremely thick and not super pourable. A spoon could stand up in it. If you want a pourable dulce de leche, cook for about 6 hours instead.
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
2 (16-ounce) canning jars with lids
If using the jar method, open your cans of sweetened condensed milk and pour each one into a canning jar, tightening the lids as tight as your hands will allow. We don’t want leakage. Get that lid on tight. Enlist help if necessary.
Place the jar or can of sweetened condensed milk into your slow cooker. Fill with water until the jars or cans are completely covered.
Let sit on high for 8 hours. Remove the cans or jars with tongs, and let cool for at least two hours. If you open it immediately, your cans might explode, and we don’t want that.
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