When foodies think of Latin cuisine, they often think of heat and spice that makes your tongue tingle and your tastebuds burn. The dessert side of Latin foods, however, has a completely different flavor.
Dulce de Leche characterizes the beautiful and luxurious qualities of Latin desserts. Because of the vast influence and popularity of dulce de leche, many countries have their own version and use of this sweet treat.
From Argentina to Spain, you can find versions of dulce de leche that make it specific to each culture.
Now you can try variations of this Latin caramel on your own from home. Check out these four different dulce de leche recipes.
Dulce de Leche Recipes
Dulce de leche recipes, in general, carry the same basic ingredients: milk, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda. The way the recipes are prepared and the other ingredients involved make these recipes unique.
1. The Simplest Dulce de Leche Recipe
This is a cheater recipe of sorts because you’re beginning with all of the ingredients you need in one can.
- 1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Place the can on its side in a large pot. Pour water in the pot until the water is at least two inches above the can.
- Put the pot on high heat and allow the water to come to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for two to three hours. Two hours will produce light caramel, and three hours will produce dark caramel.
- Do not leave the pot alone. Check it every thirty minutes to make sure the water levels stay above the can. Add more boiling water if necessary.
- Use tongs to remove the can from the pot of water and then set it on a wire rack to cool.
- Do not open the can when it is hot. Allow the can to cool completely.
- This can of caramel will keep for up to three months. Once you open the can, you can store the dulce de leche in the fridge for up to three weeks.
2. The Classic Dulce de Leche Recipe
This particular recipe requires a bit more work than the cheater’s version, but it yields a rich reward.
- 14 oz Condensed Milk (about 1 1/4 Cup)
- 12 oz Evaporated Milk (about 1 1/2 Cups)
- 1 TBSP Corn Syrup
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- Generous Pinch of Salt (optional but Delicious)
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- Set aside 30 to 45 minutes of uninterrupted time. This will take a while.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, pour the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and corn syrup. Add cinnamon sticks, baking soda, and salt.
- Salt may sound like a weird ingredient to add to such a sweet dessert, but it ultimately intensifies the flavor of the final product.
- Cook the mixture on a stovetop over medium to low heat. Stir the sauce constantly with a flat-edge wooden or silicone spoon. Use a flat edge soon to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Bring the sauce barely to a simmer. Do not allow the sauce to reach a full simmer. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent the sauce from overcooking.
- The mixture will darken and thicken as the sauce cooks. Stay patient. Keep stirring.
- Stay at the stove, patiently stirring for 30 to 45 minutes.
- As the mixture thickens, watch it carefully. Once it starts to form big, slow bubbles because of its thickness, you’ll know you’re near the end.
- Test the consistency of the mixture at this point. Lift the spoon out of the mixture and allow some sauce to drizzle back into the pot. If the drizzle forms a ribbon that stays on top of the sauce and doesn’t immediately absorb into the sauce, you’re done cooking it.
- Do a double check by dragging your spoon across the bottom of the pan. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds before the thick sauce closes on itself.
- Remove the pot from the heat and walk away for five minutes. Fish out the cinnamon sticks and stir in the vanilla.
- Let the dulce de leche cool completely before you use it in a recipe.
- Once you have your dulce de leche made, you can use it in any variety of recipes such as cakes, cookies, and luxurious desserts.
3. Traditional Alfajores – Caramel Sandwich Cookies
Alfajores are a tasty South American cookie with a beginning in Spain that takes a little bit of time to bake but yields a tongue-tingling reward.
- 1 3/4 cups corn starch
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter (cut into small pieces)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Pisco (or Brandy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut (finely chopped)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Put cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together.
- Mix butter into the flour mixture with fingers until you have a smooth mixture.
- Incorporate powdered sugar, vanilla, and Pisco into the mixture until the dough is smooth. Add another tablespoon of Pisco if the mixture is too crumbly.
- Roll the dough on a floured countertop to 3/8 ” thickness. Cut the dough into 2-inch circles.
- Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until they’re just golden brown. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet until you move them to rack.
- Spread a small amount of dulce de leche on one cookie and top with a second cookie, creating a sandwich cookie. Roll the edges of the cookie in coconut.
- Store cookies in an airtight container.
4. Simple Dulce de Leche Tres Leches Cake
Take your dulce de leche to another level with this triple-layered cake.
- 1 Yellow Cake Mix
- Dulce de Leche
- 2 tsp Water
- 12 oz Evaporated Milk
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
- 1 1/2 Cups thawed Whipped Topping
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 9 x 13 inch pan. Cool the cake in the pan for ten minutes.
- Pierce cake with a large fork at 1/2 inch intervals.
- Mix 2 TBSP of caramel spread and water until blended. Reserve this for later use.
- Blend 1 1/2 cups of dulce de leche with evaporated milk and sour cream in the blender. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture over the cake so it soaks deep into the holes.
- Refrigerate the cake for two hours.
- Spread whipped cream over the entire top. Drizzle the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the cake. If the caramel is too thick, add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time to thin it.
5. Dulce de Leche Creme Brule
- 14 oz Dulce de Leche
- 12 oz Milk
- 8 oz Heavy Cream
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Place 8, 6 oz ramekins in a 9″×13″ baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Add dulce de leche and mix until well combined.
- Whisk in the milk, heavy cream, salt and vanilla until everything is very smooth.
- Strain into a large pitcher or liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout, this will make filling the ramekins easier.
- Divide evenly into the prepared ramekins.
- Fill the baking dish with hot water until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until custards are just set and jiggle slightly when the pan is moved. The depth of the ramekins will determine how long it takes for the custards to bake.
- Use tongs to remove the ramekins from the water bath to a rimmed baking sheet. Let them cool for about 5 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.
- Remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. Gently remove any moisture or condensation with paper towel. Sprinkle each with a fine layer of 1-2 TBSP sugar, it is important for the sugar layer to be of even thickness.
- Place the ramekins on the baking sheet under the broiler. Broil, rotating them frequently for about 5 minutes. Take them out when they are golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately after caramelizing the sugar.
6. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
- 3 Cups Vanilla Wafers
- 5 TBSP Butter, Melted
- Nonstick Cooking Spray
- 32 oz Cream Cheese, at Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 4 Large Eggs, at Room Temperature
- 8 oz Dulce de Leche
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 TBSP Heavy Cream
- 6 oz Dulce de Leche
- Sea Salt for Garnish, Optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare 9″ springform pan. Remove the bottom of the pan, and place a sheet of parchment paper over the round. Replace the top of the pan over the round, you will have the edges of the parchment paper sticking out. Wrap the pan in 3 layers of aluminum foil. Spray pan with nonstick spray, or butter it.
- Place vanilla wafers in food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add melted butter, and pulse until moistened. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/3 of the way up the sides of the prepared pan. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press down the crumbs and help make sure they are packed and even. Bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making filling.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
- Place the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer between each one to scrape down the sides of the bowl. When all of the eggs have been added mix in the 8 oz of dulce de leche, vanilla, and salt.
- Place the springform pan with the cooled crust into a larger pan with sides that go up at least 2″. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Add hot water to baking pan to come 1″ up side of springform pan.
- Bake for about 55 minutes, until the cheesecake appears to be just set, the center will move slightly when the pan is gently shaken.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the cake from the pan. Let the cheesecake cool completely on wire rack. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cooled, preferably overnight.
- In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the cream and dulce de leche, stirring until smooth.
- Remove the outside of the springform pan from the cheesecake. Spread the dulce de leche topping over the entire top of the cheesecake.
- Garnish with sea salt, if desired.
7. Dulce de Leche Muffins
- 2 Medium Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Cream
- 1 Cup Unrefined Sugar
- 1 1/2 Cup Self Rising Flour
- 1/2 Cup Dulce de Leche
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
- In large bowl mix cream and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
- Sift in self rising flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Beat on medium for one minute. Add the remaining egg. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary.
Pour the batter into each muffin cup filling them up until 1/2 full.
- Scoop a teaspoon full of dulce de leche and place on top of the batter.
- Fill the muffin cup with more batter until cups are 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the side of the muffin, center will be moist because of the dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche means sweet, smooth caramel that you can incorporate in so many ways. In fact, dulce de leche made our list of 16 Argentinian Desserts No One Can Turn Down.
For more sweet Latin recipes like dulce de leche recipes, check out more on our blog.
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