A dump and start pressure cooker recipe for Dulce de Leche, a rich and velvety smooth one-ingredient caramel sauce that is great for dipping and topping.
Traditionally, it is made by simmering sweetened milk over slow heat for several hours. My simple recipe for Instant Pot Dulce De Leche Caramel, is hands-off and helps you achieve the same rich taste with just two minutes of prep, in half the time of a stove recipe!
What is Dulce De Leche?
Dulce De Leche (Spanish) roughly translates to “sweet made from milk”.
And that is exactly what the recipe is. You heat sweetened milk over slow and consistent heat, till the sugars darken and caramelize, giving the milk a smooth and rich sauce like consistency.
What Is the Difference Between Dulce de Leche and Caramel?
Even though both these delectable dessert sauces look almost the same, and have similar flavor profiles, there are some subtle differences between the two.
Caramel sauce is made by ‘caramelizing’ sugar on high heat till it gets its darker tone. In order to make a flowing sauce with this, butter or heavy cream is stirred in towards the end. This prevents the caramelized sugar from crystallizing again and makes the sauce silky smooth.
Dulce De Leche is made by heating sweetened condensed milk over slow and consistent heat, till a chemical reaction occurs, which darkens the sugar, and thickens the consistency of the milk. This chemical reaction is called Maillard reaction.
What is Maillard Reaction?
Maillard reaction is when the proteins (amino acids) and sugars in the food transform by heat, producing denser flavors, and a darker, richer color.
From a taste and texture standpoint, I find that Dulce De Leche is creamier and richer than Caramel sauce. Caramel on the other hand, has a more intense caramelized sugar flavor. It also tends to get a little chewy and hard, especially during winter times.
I honestly think that it doesn’t matter which one you make, this stuff transports you to sugar-heaven with one lick!
How to Make Dulce De Leche Caramel in the Instant Pot
I transfer a can of sweetened condensed milk in a canning jar and cover it with aluminum foil.
Turn on the Instant pot, place a trivet, then place the jar on top of that.
Add water, close the lid, set a cook time and Tadaa! You have homemade dulce de leche!
Serving Suggestion for Instant Pot Dulce De Leche Caramel
Dulce De Leche Caramel is great for dipping and topping.
Dipping: Our favorite thing to do is dip apple slices in it. YUM! I choose slightly tart apples to pair with and that contrasts so well with the sweet caramel.
Topping: This sauce is wicked good on good old vanilla ice-cream! Sprinkle some chopped nuts on top and enjoy an easy homemade Ice-cream Sundae. Dulce De Leche Caramel makes for a decadent topping for cheesecake.
After my classic cheesecake has chilled for about 2-3 hours, I drizzle this sauce all over the cheesecake, using a fork. It looks so pretty and tastes delicious.
It’s a very quick way to jazz up any plain cake for company.
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Instant Pot Dulce De Leche Caramel
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk : 1 can
- 6 cups water
- Pour sweetened condensed milk in a canning jar. Cover with aluminum foil. Add a trivet in the Instant Pot inner pot. Place the jar on top. Fill with water just until it reaches 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Close the Instant Pot lid.
- Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook (high) for 40 minutes, followed by a quick release of the pressure. (Add 5 minutes if you want a darker brown color, or reduce 5 minutes for a light golden brown color)
- Using a kitchen towel or pot holder, carefully remove jars as they are hot. Remove the foil. The condensed milk will probably look curdled at this point. This is normal.
- Using a spoon or spatula, stir it for 30 seconds, till it becomes smooth. Store in the refrigerator.
- Sprinkle in a pinch of sea salt and stir well. I like how salt enhances the caramel flavor of this sauce.