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dulce de leche

I’m going to say three words that will make you want to go out and buy, borrow or steal a pressure cooker. Dulce de leche. In fifteen minutes.

I’m not that fussed about caramel but a year or so ago I picked up a bottle of Sugardaddy’s Confectionary Dark Caramel Spread – it was slightly creamy and not overly sweet. Sugardaddy’s has since stopped producing delicious confections and I’ve been hoarding that jar at the back of my fridge for quite a few months now. Alas, one day while I was fishing around in my already overcrowded fridge I accidentally knocked the jar off the shelf and it smashed on the floor. If you’re having visions of me kneeling on the floor trying to pick out the caramel bits – you’d be right, but in the end I decided the bits of glass were too much of a hazard. I did still eat some but I couldn’t in good conscience serve it to anyone else.

A friend had told me that it tasted just like when his mum boiled a can of condensed milk. Google told me that I had to boil it for three hours. After the Christmas pudding incident where my house was literally dripping water from the windows, I was under no inclination to boil anything for that long again. But I know that anything you can boil on a stovetop, you can do quicker in a pressure cooker. Enter Bowie, the pressure cooker and the dulce de leche experiment.

So off I traipsed (excitedly) off to the supermarket to buy some condensed milk. But while I was trying to decide which condensed milk to buy, I notice that they all said the same thing on the can…

do not heat

What would you have done? After (not) much thought, I decided to proceed anyway, because I’m a rebel like that. Also, I really trust my pressure cooker – it’s a Fissler, and oh so kickass. The lid clicks into place, I figured, so any (potential) explosion would be self-contained.

Mr akitchencat was not too thrilled with this idea of ignoring the warning and doing it anyway. Oh well, that’s why it’s called an experiment right?

So, I took home two cans of condensed milk and a gung-ho attitude. I googled extensively and stumbled upon Laura’s blog, hippressurecooking, which has heaps of good pressure cooker information (for starters to pros). We tentatively placed two cans of condensed milk in the pressure cooker and filled it with water and sat as far away from the kitchen as our tiny apartment would allow.

And… success! Dulce de leche that’s creamy, has great texture and stability and isn’t overly sweet.

dulce de leche can

This is so easy you’re going to be making lots of it, I’m sure. Use it as cupcake frosting, in alfajores or macarons, as a tart filling or for when you’ve just got to have dessert – eat it with a spoon straight from the can.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, there’s a wikihow on how to do this in in a microwave, on the stovetop or in the oven (it says to pressure cook for up to 50 minutes, which I’m sure will only result in burnt caramel.) And of course, there’s the traditional way, from scratch, you can read about it on my friend Kara’s blog at The Patient Cook.

Dulce de Leche

1-2 cans of condensed milk


  1. There are only two rules – the can cannot touch the base or sides of the pressure cooker, and it must be completely submerged in water. Of course, you should make sure to not overfill your pressure cooker above the max line.
  2. Place the trivet and steamer basket into the base of the pressure cooker – you want the basket to be raised off the base.
  3. Place the cans of condensed milk into the pressure cooker – you can do more than one at a time, as long as the cans do not touch the sides of the pressure cooker.
  4. Fill the pressure cooker with water making sure the cans are completely covered, but the water does not exceed the maximum capacity line.
  5. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker, making sure it’s on the high setting. Cook on high heat and when it reaches pressure, lower the heat to the minimum required to maintain pressure. Cook for 15-20 minutes – mine was cooked for exactly 18.5 minutes. The longer you cook it, the firmer and darker it becomes.
  6. Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker depressurise naturally. Only open the can when it is cool to touch.
  7. If you want to adjust the texture of your dulce de leche, you can heat it with a tablespoon or two of cream.

Disclaimer: make sure you read the instructions carefully, and do this at your own risk, etc etc. You know the deal.