My notorious sweet tooth is no secret as my blog is filled with recipes for many of my favorite desserts. One of my favorite things to satisfy my sweet cravings is caramel; I prefer it over chocolate and think that caramel makes chocolate taste even better. I love caramel on ice cream, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, tarts, and in lattes, and I’ve also been known to eat it straight off the spoon. I’m addicted, I know. Is there a 12-step program for caramel? I think I need one.
I’ve been making caramel at home for years now, my favorite being Colombian arequipe (dulce de leche) using the traditional method which is a bit labor intensive. If you don’t have time to stand over a pot of simmering milk and sugar for a couple hours, the shortcut oven method is an easy way to make it at home, you just need a glass pie pan and a can of sweetened condensed milk (not plain evaporated milk).
Cooking the dulce de leche in a water bath helps it to cook evenly without drying out. Ovens vary in temperature, so I suggest a range of time for baking the caramel. My oven seems a bit slow and it takes a full 90 minutes to cook the caramel, but check your caramel at the 1 hour mark to see how it’s doing. It still takes time, but not as long as the scratch method and you don’t have to stay on top of it. And a short time later with little to no effort on your part, you’ll have a decadent treat.
Easy Dulce de Leche (Caramel)
- 9-inch glass pie pan
- roasting pan, large enough to fit the pie pan inside
- whisk or immersion blender
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Set the pan inside the roasting pan and pour hot water around it until it's about half way up the side of the pie pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until it's browned and caramelized, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Check the caramel at the 1 hour mark, just use some tongs to carefully lift up one corner of the foil. If the milk still looks pale, leave it in for another 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and allow the caramel to cool on a wire rack. Whisk or blend to smooth it out. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 month.