Wednesday, May 12, 2021

One-Step Dulce de Leche #Recipe by @Leslie Karst

I have a Brazilian friend who told me her family has always made dulce de leche—that Latin American caramel sauce—by simply putting cans of sweetened condensed milk into the pot along with the black beans, and letting them all cook together for several hours.
“What about the danger of exploding cans?” I asked her.

“I’ve never seen that happen,” she assured me. So I decided to try it out to use as the topping for a cake.

I read on line that you should boil the cans in a heavy Dutch oven with the lid cracked, which struck me as a good idea. After all, it was always possible that mine would be the first exploding cans that my friend had encountered, and a cast iron pot and lid would be sure to protect my kitchen, and anyone in it at the time, from flying shards of metal should this occur.

Even though I didn’t need that much dulce de leche, I decided to make two cans. It wouldn’t take any more energy to boil two, and then I’d have some for later use. (It keeps quite well in the fridge.)

One-Step Dulce de Leche

Remove the paper from the cans, and then cover them completely with cold water in a large pot (or cook them along with a batch of black beans!):

Put a lid on the pot, slightly cracked to allow the steam to escape, and bring the water to a boil. Then turn it down to a simmer, and cook it for two to four hours. The longer it goes, the darker and thicker it will get. Make sure you check to pot periodically and add water as needed to keep the cans covered. If you don’t, you could well be the first one with an exploding can. I split the difference and simmered mine for a little over three hours.

Take the cans out of the water and let them cool before opening. Here is what mine looked like:

as you can see, it’s pretty thick—like a thick frosting

For comparison, here’s what sweetened condensed milk looks like when it hasn’t been boiled:

Easy peasy! And amazingly delicious! And it's not simply good as a cake frosting--I like to spoon it directly from the can to eat!

 🍰 🌿 🍶

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:
“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


And Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are now available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!


  1. I have heard it was easy to make dulce de leche but been too nervous that mine would be the first unheard of can exploding experience. However, I do have a cast iron pot and am seriously considering giving this a try. Had not considered the situation from a problem solving perspective.

    1. Ha! Love it, Lil! Yes, you should try it out--it's so easy and sooooo delicious!

  2. What a cool idea! Will absolutely give this a try!

  3. I'm chicken. I can easily buy dulce de leche in a can at the store. I think I'll stick to that!

  4. What a great experiment! Hmm. Maybe I'll wear eye protection! Great post, Leslie. Hugs. MJ

  5. When I first read about your friend cooking these with her black beans I was shocked by the idea of cans in the beans (rather than beans in a can!). Then I thought about it. Why not? Wash the cans before and after and you're set to go.
    Brilliantly easy.

    1. I know, isn't it? And ecologically friendly, too!