Recipe: Caramel Milk Candies (Dulce de Leche Candy)

Makes about 36 candies

Behold my epic fail – homemade “Caramel Milk Candies.”

I planned to make these typical South American candies for Halloween. Little did I know, I was in for a real mystery even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve. You see, metal cans are not transparent. I was literally cooking blind. As I learned, this is a tragic prospect when it comes to candy making.

Despite my diligent efforts (nerdy, even) to make and remake these candies, I failed.  I’d keep going, except I’m terrified of my next gas bill.

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
parchment paper

Method:

1. Bring water to boil. Choose a pot an inch or two taller than the can of sweetened condensed milk.

Meanwhile, remove the label from the can. You’ll thank me later, when you don’t have to clean paper shreds out of your pan.

2. Make two holes in your can. This is a safety measure. Not everyone does this.

I do because I’m not that into exploding cans.

3. Place can in boiling water. Cover pot and reduce to a simmer. The water should be near the top, so that all the liquid in the can gets evenly cooked.

Add water occasionally if too much boils off.

After about six hours of constant simmering, I opened up the first can.

My heart fluttered. What candy goodness would I behold? Waiting all day gave me plenty of time to work up a sweet tooth.

Yikes.

My candy wasn’t candy at all. It was limp and smeared all over the place.  It was like thick pudding. But not in a good way.

I took a deep breath and decided to try again in the morning.

Eight hours later, this was the result:

More promising. Darker color, drier texture – cracked, even. Less limp, that’s for sure.

But look how it smears! This is not candy!

I thought, perhaps refrigeration will set the candy up? so I put it on small squares of parchment paper.

And twisted the ends.

The next day, when I unrolled the “candy,” all I had was sweet mud.

Sweet mud. I suppose there’s worse things.

But now what? What can I make for Halloween?

I can’t feed people mud, no matter what it tastes like.

Help me, dear readers.

Surely someone knows how to make this recipe work … or has a good South American candy recipe?

Someone? Anyone?

Bueller?

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Comments

  1. MMmm…. what you made is what we called “grooshanka” (sp? we might not even have been saying it correctly!) when I lived in russia! yummy yummy smearable caramel that tastes great on bread, pancakes, blini, with apples, etc. we make it almost the exact same way (simmer all day, let it cool, and open) however i’ve never seen it in the consistency you’re looking for…. i’m thinking there’s something else you need to do it it. cook it longer? add something? don’t know what to tell you! sorry!

  2. I vaguely remember doing this in girl scouts but I think we used a pressure cooker because it didn’t take that long. Then we had to stir it to make smooth. Good luck. You can always resort to a bag of Hershey Miniatures…

  3. I have repeatedly failed at candy making… although using this as a spread sounds lovely. lol.

  4. Collette Lemons says:

    I don’t know that i would cook it in a can – probably not that safe. i would be worried about what the can was adding to it.

    Instead, use a double boiler so you can stir it.

    I also don’t think condensed milk gets solid. i used to do that and called it Poor Mom’s caramel and let the kids dip apples and fruit in it at Christmas when they were small.

    It makes an excellent fondue too.

    But I have never cooked it to the point of hard candy and you might have better luck in the double boiler where you can keep an eye on it better.

    I would say that by the time it will reach the hard hard stage it will be very dark. Maybe almost burnt looking.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I was surprised how dark it was getting – and worried the same thing, that it might look too dark by the time it was done.

  5. Jen Helsel says:

    Oh, I’ve tried to make this myself, after living in Mexico briefly. I’d try Collette’s suggestion. I didn’t have a double boiler at that time, and was very short on patience. So the sugars caramelized before enough liquid had evaporated. I did get the consistency close enough to that waxy, taffy texture that I could eat it on the go with my fingers. In Mexico, Mama Davila didn’t mention cooking it in the can, just in a pan.

  6. I don’t know if you’re up for trying it again, but this website had some good pointers. I think it doesn’t need to be cooked that long and needs to be mixed well while it’s hot. Spreading it out (while hot and pliable) on parchment, letting it cool, then cutting into candy sounds like a good idea. I like the idea of microwaving it, too.

    Maybe I’ll give it a go?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      If you have the time to give it a go, let me know how it comes out. You can email me pics and I’ll post them for others to see. Good luck! :)

  7. The Amish community we used to live near would cook it to the point you did, slice it & top with a pineapple ring & a cherry to serve as dessert. :o)

  8. I am 99.9% certain that this failed because you vented the can.

    If you keep the can completely submerged, it will not explode. You have to make sure that you check it several times during the cooking process and add water to replace what boils off.

    By keeping the can sealed and submerged, you have created a mini pressure cooker. The sugars will naturally caramelize and create a wonderful sauce or candy, depending on the time that you cook it. When you vent the can, you are allowing the steam to escape, which causes the sugar to burn rather than caramelize. By keeping it completely submerged, the caramel cooks evenly and you won’t have different consistencies.

    It’s time to try it again. You won’t be disappointed!!

  9. Joan Mills says:

    my mother did this, in the can, in the pressure cooker for an hour, let it cool, and then we used it as a carmel sauce on deserts, such as vanilla pudding, or ice cream…. but it was spoonable, not waxy for candy.

  10. I just mad alfajores, Peruvian cookies w/ dulce de leche inside. It’s simple:

    Open the top of the can- off!
    Fill 3/4 with water, be sure the boiling water doesn’t jump into the can
    Stir often moving the bottom brown parts around to cook evenly
    Refill when needed w/ water
    Small can took me 3- 3 1/2 hours
    Afterwards it’s a little bit lumpy so I beat it w/ a fork (you could use a small food processor I suppose)
    Viola

  11. I have cooked the milk in a can before. Actually twice. I was scared it would explode too, but It didn’t. I didn’t make candy. I made banoffi which I tasted in Ireland. The one in Ireland was delicious. Mine was good, but not as good as theirs.

  12. Basically, i think you actually had to keep it refrigerated before cutting it out. And don’t cut holes as vent.

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