Sweetened condensed milk is cow’s milk from which the water has been removed; sugar is been added for sweetness. In parts of Asia, it’s the milk used in iced coffee and iced tea. It’s the dairy used to make Key Lime Pie—because before modern refrigeration, there were no cows in the Florida Keys and canned milk was a staple. It’s the special ingredient in Magic Bars and Tres Leches Cake.
Recipes abound to use sweetened condensed milk: in beverages, brownies and other bars, cakes, candy, cookies, pies and puddings. Check out the Eagle Brand website, for starters.
When we have leftover sweetened condensed milk after baking, we use it:
As a dip for fresh fruit and cookies (try oatmeal cookies!)
On oatmeal and other porridge
In French toast (substitute for milk)
In coffee and iced coffee
As a topping for ice cream and pound cake
Homemade sweetened condensed milk. Photo courtesy GrowingNaturals.com.
Caramelized into a delicious dessert sauce or dip (recipe below)
Lactose intolerant? Here’s a non-dairy version of sweetened condensed milk from GrowingNaturals.com.
RECIPE: SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK SUBSTITUTE
If you find yourself stuck without a can of sweetened condensed milk, here’s a substitute recipe from Cooks.com.
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. MIX all ingredients thoroughly and use in bars, cookies, cakes, etc.
RECIPE: HOMEMADE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK
This homemade version isn’t as thick as canned sweetened condensed milk, but it does have the same sweet, milky flavor.
Ingredients For Scant 1 Cup
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. MIX in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together the milk and sugar. Take note of where the milk reaches on the side of the pan.
2. HEAT the milk and sugar mixture over medium heat until it’s just steaming, then lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. When the mixture has reduced by about half, stir in the vanilla extract.
3. COOL completely. As it cools, the milk with thicken. Pour into a clean, dry airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Keep a can in the pantry. Photo courtesy
SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK TIPS
Because it is a natural product, sweetened condensed milk may vary in color and consistency from can to can.
To measure, remove the entire lid and scrape the milk into a glass measuring cup, using a rubber spatula.
Transfer any leftover milk into a storage container, cover and refrigerate. It will keep for about one week.
Sweetened condensed milk will become thicker and more caramel-colored when kept on the shelf for a long time. These changes won’t affect its quality, and when used in recipes with peanut butter, butterscotch, or chocolate, the rich caramel flavor and color will blend with these ingredients.
Tips and caramelizing instructions courtesy Eagle Brand.
HOW TO CARAMELIZE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK
First, do not cook it in a regular pan on the stove; it will scorch. Instead, use one of these methods.
Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Pour sweetened condensed milk into 8 or 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil; place in larger shallow pan. Fill outer pan with hot water. Bake 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until thick and light caramel-colored; check water level in pan during baking time and refill if necessary. Remove foil. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.
Stovetop Method: Pour sweetened condensed milk into top of double boiler; cover and place over boiling water. Over low heat, simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until thick and light caramel-colored. Beat until smooth, if desired. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.
Microwave Method: Pour sweetened condensed milk into an 8 cup glass measure. Cook, uncovered, at Medium (50%) for 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Reduce power to Medium Low (30%) and cook, uncovered, 12 to 16 minutes or until thick and light caramel-colored. Stir briskly every 2 minutes until smooth. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.