My method of making dulce de leche is probably the most commonly used, but I'm posting it here because two recipes using dulce de leche will follow and I want to include instructions on how to prepare it.
This is the cheater's way of making it. Go elsewhere if you want the stuff with real cream and vanilla bean seeds. This blog is for the non-food snobs. Me? I can be both but I prefer to cheat when it comes to dulce de leche.
Dulce de Leche
1. Remove the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk. (This is the only ingredient, by the way.) I use Eagle brand.
2. Place it in the bottom of a pot on it's side and cover with water at least an inch above the top of the can.
3. Put it on the stove, put the lid on, and turn the burner to high. You will let it boil on high for 2 hours. Alternately, you can simmer it on medium for four hours but it turns out exactly the same so I do it on high to save time.
4. Check the water level every half hour or so and add more water to keep it above the top of the can. DO NOT LET THE WATER LINE FALL BENEATH THE TOP OF THE CAN, OR THE CAN COULD EXPLODE, RESULTING IN SERIOUS INJURY.
5. Have I scared you into never trying my method yet?
6. Once it has boiled for two hours, turn off the heat and carefully remove the can with tongs.
7. Allow to cool completely, then open and use as you wish. Some just wait until the can is managably warm before opening, but I'm not so brave. The fear of the can exploding in my face keeps me from attempting anything of the sort. I usually let it sit overnight or just stash it in the cupboard if I won't be using it for a while. It has a long shelf life, even after cooking. I'm not sure how long, because the longest it's ever lasted on my cupboard shelf is one month. I'd say you've got until the expiration date on the can, but I'm not making any promises.
I opened this can today, one month after making it--still perfect!
Veronica's tip: I use a stock pot and cook several at once so I have them on hand. Also, I recently found prepared dulce de leche in a can at the grocery store on the Mexican food aisle so if preparing dulce de leche yourself doesn't appeal to you, check to see if your grocer sells them. The kind I found looks like this (and it looks & tastes exactly the same as the kind I make):
When it's done, you'll have some lovely thick, caramelly stuff like this. Heaven!