Easy Overnight Crockpot Caramel

Okay, so that post title’s a lie.  This isn’t really caramel – it’s dulce de leche, which I sometimes call “Mexican caramel.”  I don’t even think it’s Mexican, but the name is Spanish and it’s cooked in various places down in South America, and let’s face it, I’m Southern – so everything down there is Mexican.  Proper caramel is made with sugar and butter; dulce de leche is made with milk and sugar.  In this recipe, we make things super easy by only using one ingredient – sweetened condensed milk.

image from wikipedia entry
Image from wikipedia entry.  Those little black flecks are vanilla beans, which I omit from my recipe because it’s damned good without added vanilla and I’m lazy.

I first made dulce de leche years ago, in college, when I first tried the Haagan Das icecream of the same flavor.  Making it is as simple as boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Or is it?  I never liked that cooking strategy, for several reasons:

  • I never know how long is long enough – I can’t see the contents of the can to tell when it’s caramelized.
  • Heating the can causes the toxins in it to seep into the finished product.
  • It can fucking explode.  Yes.  The can is under pressure and can BLOW UP IN YOUR FACE.

So here’s the super easy way to cook it that negates all of those issues.

Easy Overnight Crockpot Caramel

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 canning jar with lid
crockpot filled with water

Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and pour its contents into your canning jar.  Seal the lid tightly.  Set it gently into a water-filled crockpot.  Turn it on “low” and go to bed.  Wake up in the morning to delicious dulce de leche that you can eat straight out of the jar with a spoon.  If for some reason the milk has not caramelized by the time you wake up, crank the heat up to high and check back every hour.

Feel free to make more than one jar at a time.  My crockpot can fit 3.

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