Dulce de leche in the pressure cooker

You can find various recipes for dulce de leche on the web; a gallon of milk, sugar, small amount of baking soda, vanilla (optional), cook for an hour on the stove top.

Chow.com has one where you put sweetened condensed milk in a pie plate, cover it, bake in the oven for an hour, stir, then bake for an hour and a half more.

I haven’t tried either of these methods.

In the comments section for the Chow recipe people were relating the way their mom, grandmother, etc. made it by putting an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot, add several cups of water, and cook it on the stove top. Of course there were many comments about how dangerous that is. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen. There’s also the problem with the BPA that the cans are lined with.

All of these seem like too much work to me. The stove top method is sure to need lots of attention in order to avoid the milk sticking and scorching on the bottom of the pan. The oven one takes too long. There were also comments asking how to make a lower sugar version; sweetened condensed milk is very sweet. All this got me to thinking that dulce de leche could very likely be made in a pressure cooker using the bain marie method.

I took a can of sweetened condensed milk, poured it in a metal bowl, covered the bowl tightly with aluminum foil, and put it in the pressure cooker on top of the steamer basket and poured several cups of water around it. Then I cooked it at high pressure for 1 hour.

Well, not exactly that; I first added 2 tablespoons of dry whole milk and mixed that in well before I put it in the pressure cooker. I have this dry milk, Nido, that’s made by Nestle that’s whole milk, not the usual nonfat dry milk. It’s a fine powder, not the fluffy granules like instant nonfat dry milk.

When I took the bowl out of the pressure cooker and uncovered it the sweetened condensed milk had reduced by a lot and had a slightly grainy crust on the top. So I used the electric hand mixer and mixed it well. Then I put it in a jar and put that in the fridge. It’s thick. And it tastes great.

Thinking about the lower sugar queries I made the next batch with one can of sweetened condensed milk and one can of evaporated milk. For the evaporated milk I used whole evaporated milk, not non fat. This time I added 4 tablespoons of the Nido whole dry milk. I mixed everything together well in the steel bowl using a whisk, covered it with aluminum foil and cooked it as before in the pressure cooker for an hour. This wasn’t as thick as the batch made with only sweetened condensed milk. I was almost thinking of putting it back in the pressure cooker and cooking it for an additional half hour but I decided to try letting it cool down to see if it thickened up sufficiently. It was fairly thick, but not as thick as the first batch was, which was quite thick. It also needed a good mixing with the electric hand mixer.

After an evening in the fridge it thickened up nicely. The flavor is incredible. A rich and creamy caramel to die for. But still too sweet.

I think some of the condensation is dripping back into the bowl while it’s cooking so for the next batch I’m going to cook it the way I do my morning mush. I’ll use the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup with the brown glass lid from a Pyrex pot. The glass lid is a bit too large and sits at an angle because of the measuring cup’s handle, which is good because that makes the condensation drain to the outside of the measuring cup.


One Comment on “Dulce de leche in the pressure cooker”

  1. Ciao Lumpy, I played with danger and pressure-cooked a can. But if BPA is an issue you can just pour the contents of the can into a glass jar- then, pressure cook that.

    30 minutes at high pressure, natural release, jar on trivet and with water up to the contents (and a 1″ of headspace inside the jar). Then, do not remove jar from water until the water has cooled to the touch, and do not open jar until the next day.

    However, if you have “canned” foods they have probably already been pressure cooked in an industrial canner so the BPA would already have had the opportunity to leach into the food.

    Have fun and let me know if you try it!



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