Monday, June 14, 2010

Homemade Dulce de Leche and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Hola! Did you miss me? Sorry for the unexpected break, but the last month has been full of exciting happenings including bumping into the cast of Glee on a flight from Chicago to New York, racing in the Boston Dragon Boat Festival with The Boat for Kids Who Don't Paddle Good, and a vacation to Argentina and Brazil.


It was down in Buenos Aires that I fell in love with dulce de leche. I used my Marriott points to stay at the Marriott Plaza Hotel, and because I'm a Gold Elite member, we got to eat breakfast in the Concierge Lounge each morning. And each morning they put out little jars of dulce de leche to spread on the pastries. It was so good, I ended up putting some in my coffee, too! I just knew I had to try to make some at home, and luckily, there is a rather easy (and safe*) method. Basically all you do is put a can (or two or three) of sweetened condensed milk in a crock pot, fill it with water, turn it on low, and let it cook for 8 hours. That's it! Obviously, you'll want to wait for the cans to come back down to room temperature before attempting to open them, or else you'll risk having hot dulce de leche squirting out of the can.


I'll admit that it doesn't taste quite as good as the real thing, but for how easy it was to make, it's pretty darn close. Now my only problem was what to do with the dulce de leche. See, while it was great spreading it all over pastries and stirring into my coffee, I don't really have pastries just sitting around at home, nor do I usually make coffee at home. So I figured I'd look for a recipe to make dulce de leche ice cream. I came across this one on Epicurious with the following description: "This is not just the best dulce de leche ice cream we've ever had, it's one of the best ice creams we've ever had, period." With a testimonial like that, how could I not try to make it?

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with Toasted Pecans (from Epicurious)
makes about 1.5 quarts

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (this ended up being a little more than 1 can of homemade dulce de leche)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.


Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans.


Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.


To be honest, I still think the passion fruit ice cream was the best ice cream I ever made. But this one is definitely high up on the list. The addition of the toasted pecans almost made it taste like butter pecan ice cream, but with a richer, caramelized flavor. Probably the hardest part of making this was making sure the pecans didn't burn when toasting them. I almost always end up throwing out the first batch because I forget about them and soon I'm left with blackened, useless pecans. So make sure you keep a careful eye on the pecans! The added flavor from toasting them is so worth the extra effort.

*Safe because the alternative way to make this is to add a can of sweetened condensed milk to boiling water and boiling it for several hours, which could possibly lead to exploding cans. One of my friends from Taiwan used to call this, "Danger Pudding" for that reason.


  1. i'm pretty sure i'd take this over passion fruit any time!

  2. Sareen and I love Dulce de Leche. Argentina had some of the best food and the best ice cream I ever had. Did you go to Persicco and Freddo's?

  3. @SLidog - We went to Persicco, but I don't think we went to Freddo's. I actually preferred the food in Brazil, but maybe I just didn't know what to order in Argentina....

  4. Hee hee! I just made some of this, too!

    YUM. I fell in love with dulce de leche (or at least the Peruvian version of it) in Lima - the filling in alfajores cookies.

  5. Dulce de leche AND a mention of the cast of Glee? What a perfect post!

  6. I've been to that Marriott in Argentina and stolen as many of those little pots of dulce de leche as possible too!

    The key to good dulce de leche is good sweetened condensed milk. Don't get the cheap store brand kind, get the most quality kind you can.


  7. hey, nice recipe, just one comment on the making of dulce de leche part... 8 hours seem like an awful lot of cooking time! didn't it explode?
    I've made dulce de leche all my life and it only takes 45-1 hour of cooking in the pressure pot! and if you're using a regular pot, 2-2.5 hours tops...

  8. @pame - That's 8 hours in a slow cooker, not a regular pot.

  9. I know this is an old posting. I hope it's ok to ask about it.
    I've been intrigued by this since I found your blog last summer.
    I live in Israel and keep kosher, so I could not use the crockpot we had which is for meat.
    I tried to find a real slow cooker, the usual Israeli one has two heat settings, high which brings everything to a boil and burns it, and low which brings everything to a boil and drys it out.
    I found a Kenwood one (CP707) which has a low setting, and am dedicating it to dairy.
    My question is do you have any idea of the temperature the milk should be heated to?
    So far on low, it has in 1 hour gotten to 110F, which I assume is to low. I plan to leave it sit and come to temperature, but it would help if I knew whether to use high or low with this slow cooker.
    Google has been no help, it just gives me copies of the same posting by lots of people with no real information.
    Thanks in advance,


    1. Hi Geoff,

      Wow, I just looked up the Kenwood CP707, and it looks really nice! I did a quick google to look for "slow cooker temperatures", and it seems like most slow cookers' "low" settings will heat up to around 200°F. It was a pretty quick search, though, so you might want to do some more digging to be sure. Hope that helps!


    2. Thanks, so far it has stabilized at 175F, so I'll leave it go for 8 hours at that temp and see what it does.

      I appreciate it.


    3. Final note. It reached 160F (temp for cooking meat, where things start to carmelize) at about 3 1/2 hours in.
      I left it on for a total of 11 hours (about 8 at 160F or higher) and turned off the slow cooker. Peak temp 185F.
      When I got up at 5am it was still warm (115F). I took it out of the water, opened the can and it was great.
      Thank you!!!

    4. You're welcome! Glad it turned out well. =)

  10. Ohhh god, it looks extremely delicious, marry me haha

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