Like carrot top pesto.

Or the myth that you should preheat your sheet pans if you want to roast a really good vegetable. (You’ll actually create a smoke bomb.)

So when chirpy TV people told me I could create dulce de leche by heating a can of sweetened condensed milk, I scoffed. Surely the can would explode. Or the milk would burn. Or you’d poison your family.

No thank you. I contented myself with buying jars of already prepared (and really expensive) dulce de leche.

Until today.

Searching for something to make for an unexpected dinner party, I spied a can of Borden Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk sitting on my shelf. Could I turn it into dulce de leche, using the thick caramel as a filling for cornmeal sugar cookies?

I scanned some recipe books and found instructions I trusted from California Chef Suzanne Goin.

“This is either going to be awesome or disastrous,” I muttered, warning the husband he might have to make a grocery run for already prepared (and really expensive) dulce de leche.

But after 4 1/2 hours, I can definitively say …

This is no urban legend.

My dulce de leche emerged from its can and water bath as a thick, creamy caramel. It stuffed those cookies beautifully. The leftovers made a lovely snack for my youngest, who took a spoon and ate them straight from the bowl.

I’ll probably never try carrot top pesto again. And preheated sheet pans simply don’t work in my kitchen, with my oven.

But dulce de leche from a can of Eagle Brand?

I’ll make it again and again!

Dulce De Leche

I was late to this party, so you may already have your preferred technique for turning sweetened condensed milk into caramel. But this one was magical. It takes a lot of babysitting, so you’ll want to make your caramel when you have about five hours to spare. But trust me. The time you spend is worth it.

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Place the can in a large pot.

Fill the pot with water. Be sure the can is covered by at least an inch of water.

Heat the water to a simmer.

Simmer the can for 4 hours, replenishing the water as needed.

Carefully remove the can from the water. Let it come to room temperature.

Pop the top. Scoop the dulce de leche into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Use as a dip for apples, a filling for cookies or cakes, a topping for ice cream or a guilty indulgent straight from a spoon!