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The Differences Between Sweetened Condensed Milk And True Dulce De Leche

by Simon Best

Dulce de leche is a caramelized dessert that involves just two ingredients. One is milk, and the other is sugar. Most people who are not familiar with dulce de leche tend to assume that it is just sweetened condensed milk, and to an extent, they might be right. However, there are some big distinctions between the popular Hispanic dessert and the pastry and dessert chef's ingredient. 

Sweetened Condensed Milk Is Condensed Milk With Sugar Added at the End

To make sweetened condensed milk, you would boil milk down until there is almost no water in it at all. Then you add a very large amount of sugar, and stir. You do not put the mix back on the stove and cook it longer unless that is part of the instructions for something you are making. Instead, you store it for use for baking and candy-making at a later date. You definitely would not consume this mixture of raw, uncooked sugar mixed with cooked and boiled-down milk unless you really wanted to taste a lot of thick, syrupy sugar.

Dulce de Leche Is Sugar and Milk Boiled Together

Dulce de leche is sugar and milk boiled down together. As the water dissipates and and the sugar begins to caramelize, you get something quite different in taste, texture, and consistency than sweetened condensed milk. What you get is the product that commonly becomes milk caramels (a candy) if you were to boil it hotter and longer until it becomes like taffy. In fact, dulce de leche is very much a caramel-like treat, and it is commonly served over ice cream and other treats. 

You Can Try to Make Dulce de Leche From Sweetened Condensed Milk, But...

People often try to make homemade dulce de leche by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water on the stove. You essentially remove the lid of the can, place the can in enough water to come up halfway on the can, and then boil it continuously. The boiling process is supposed to evaporate all remaining water in the milk in the can and help caramelize the sugar. If the water boils down and leaves a dry pan, the whole mess could explode or boil over into the pan and burn. It is just best to buy the real dulce de leche ready-made from a store or from a dulce de leche manufacturer.

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