Totally Bad, but oh so Good! Caramel Nirvana

If you're on a diet, can't eat sugar, or hate any kind of happiness, turn away now.

Fair warning. I'm serious. This is evil stuff.

I mean it! This is so delicious, it's sinful.

Okay. That should've scared off all the weenies.

Years ago, before the age of microwaves, my mother used to boil a can of sweetened condensed milk in a big pot of water. You had to let it boil for a couple of hours. (To little children, it felt like DAYS!) Afterward, you couldn't open the can for many more hours until it had cooled off.

Once cooled, she'd punch a hole in the can with one of those old fashioned can openers that looked like it could take out an eye. With the first tiny hole, a mini lava of caramel spewed from the opening. Our mouths would water and we'd gather like urchins around the most decadent candy the world of man had ever created.

We called it leche quemada. Greg calls it Cow. Don't ask me why. (It's an in-family joke.)  It's also known as cajeta.

Since the Stone Age of my childhood, I'd seen many other ways of cooking it either on a stove top or a slow cooker. But the easiest and quickest way of cooking this is in the microwave.

All hail the MICROWAVE.

Cook time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Take a can of sweetened condensed milk. Any brand will do.

Open the can.

Pour the contents into a tall, preferably glass bowl.

You are allowed to lick off the leftover milk inside the can. When you finish, toss the used spoon in the sink and get a new one.

Okay, now to work.

• Center the bowl of sweetened condensed milk in the microwave. Hopefully you have one with a turntable. Microwave for 1 minute, 10 seconds. Keep watching it to make sure it doesn't breach the top of the bowl.

The milk will be hot but still liquid. Stir once.

• Microwave for another 1 minute, 20 seconds. During this period, you will have to stop the microwave every 8-10 seconds, stir once, then restart again.

Notice the froth on the side of the bowl. It falls quickly back to normal.

• You must watch it CAREFULLY. The milk will froth and rise. (This is why it's better to have a clear bowl.)

• Every time the milk rises to the top, stop the microwave. Stir the bowl once. Let it sit for two seconds then restart the machine.

• After cooking for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the milk will feel firmer and saucy.

• Let it cool in the fridge. As it cools, it will firm up into a spreadable caramel.

If you didn't wait until it cooled, the tip of your tongue is burnt right now. (If this is you, remind me not to leave you alone with matches or scissors.)

You can spread the leche quemada on bread or lace it over ice cream, but I eat a couple of naked spoonfuls and fall into a happy sugar coma.

Yes. It's terribly bad for you. It's nothing but sugar and milk.

You're welcome.

Yes, it's that good

Note: If you like a firmer texture like my mom did, you can cook it another minute longer. It'll have the consistency of soft fudge.

Cook it slightly less if you want to use it as a sauce or a topping for pancakes, ice cream, or drizzled on cakes.



Stephanie Faris said…
I've had the leche cake at Chuy's...VERY sweet stuff! I don't like the shortbread-type cake they use, but I can imagine it would be yummy on other things.
Mike Keyton said…
The Devil is a woman. Get thee behind me, Satan!......after you've given me just a little piece
Maria Zannini said…
Stephanie: The Tres Leches cake I've had is very moist and light. I don't think it's shortbread, but I don't really know.
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: It's decadent and if I die it will be with a smile on my face. :)
Susan Gourley said…
Never really heard of that. We're not much of a candy-eating family but it sounds like it would be good.
Maria Zannini said…
Susan: Technically, it's more of a poor man's candy. Sweetened condensed milk is used more as part of a bigger recipe.
Stacy McKitrick said…
I'm surprised boiling the can didn't cause it to rupture. But man, I love caramel. Making this would be evil to my body (but heaven to my tongue!).
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: The thing to remember when boiling is that the can must remain immersed in water. It's dangerous because if you let the pot go empty the can, can explode. That's why the microwave method is better: safer and faster.
JackieBCentralTexas said…
Maria I am with Mike, you are indeed devilish and your Mother is devilishly clever for passing this particular poor man's candy recipe down. I used to love caramel candy but the complicated recipes have found to make it do not inspire me to go to all the trouble, this one on the other hand we will try some weekend using the microwave method.

My husband is going to lurve this!
Maria Zannini said…
Jackie: It's a nostalgic treat for me. I'll indulge for however long a can lasts us and then we won't crave it again for a long time.

If you like caramel, I guarantee you'll both love this. Nothing is easier.
betty said…
Never had it, but it looks delicious! I like the simpler way to make it these days :)

I'm still not getting email notices when you post (I just put your blog in my favorites and try to remember to check it since I think you usually post Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday with meal planning). Do you think I should sign up again?

Maria Zannini said…
Betty: Don't sign up yet. I've tried everything I can think of but nothing works. I have to wait until the next time I have a post to find out if each tweak worked--which is why it's taken me so long to figure this out.

My only option is to rebuild the entire mail list again. It might require another sign up, but I'll let you know.

Right now I'm seriously thinking of leaving MailChimp. It's always been a bear to navigate.