How to Make Dulce de Leche from Low-Fat Milk

I did a bad, bad thing.

At a time when everyone, myself included, is trying to detox and eat healthy, I made one of the most ridiculously indulgent, unhealthy treats known to man.

Of course, it wasn’t my fault. I blame the milkman. You see, every year at Xmas he asks for our ‘holiday’ order and I oblige, writing in the number of bottles we need on each delivery day. This year we have a new milkman who apparently can’t read my handwriting. Or is dyslexic. Either way, he got the order completely messed up and we ended up with 10 pint bottles of milk at once.

Our fridge is of European proportions, meanging TINY. 10 bottles won’t fit. I tried leaving some outside but they went ‘off’, so I realized I had to do something with all this milk. I made yogurt, of course, but still had plenty leftover. That’s when my mind turned to evil thoughts.

Dulce de leche – pronounced doolsay day laychay and meaning ‘milk candy’ in Spanish – is something I’ve enjoyed before but never made. I knew the easy way of making it, the cheat’s method, was to boil a tin of condensed milk for a few hours. But that wouldn’t help use up my stockpile of milk, which was the original goal here, right? So I started recipe hunting.

The immediate problem I ran into is that, although you can of course make dulce de leche from milk, all of the recipes I found use whole milk. This is because lowfat (2% or less) milk has too few milk solids in it and would boil away to nothing. And 2% milk is what I had. It wasn’t looking good. But then I remembered, with a crook of my eyebrow, that I had some double cream (also called heavy or whipping cream) left over from Christmas. Surely that would fill in the missing blanks, as it were? Mwuaaaahahahaha…

Before my conscience had a chance to stop me, I jumped right in. And it wasn’t pretty, at least not in the cooking stages.

After one hour (left) and after four hours (right)

And it took a very long time. Probably because of the relatively low fat content. I stopped after four hours and let it be a little thinner than dulce de leche normally is, but I wanted it to be pourable. I reasoned that I could always boil it again if I wanted to thicken it, but you can’t un-boil it if it becomes too thick.

Some of you may be wondering what I was planning to do with all of this liquid toffee sin? Well I didn’t really have a clue. Vague visions of pouring it over vanilla ice cream, apple cake, bread pudding and banana trifle were all ushered out the window when I remembered I was due to be starting a low-carb diet this month. I also didn’t really want to be feeding all of those sweets to my kids. But a glance at the fruit bowl gave me the answer. I poured a cup of dulce de leche, surrounded it with sliced green and red apples, pears and bananas and hey presto – made my daughter’s day!

My kids have now had this treat a few times, I’ve given some away and I still have half a jarful in the fridge. I’m going to make ice cream with it, just because at least then it’ll be a bit further out of sight. Having it be the first thing I see when I open the fridge door is making January dieting a total nightmare!

5.0 from 2 reviews
How to Make Dulce de Leche from Low-Fat Milk
Yields approx. 1 litre or 4 cups (1 quart)
  • 3 pints (6 cups or 1½ quarts) low-fat milk
  • 600 ml (2½ cups) double cream
  • 500g (2½ cups) Demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Put everything in a large pot and gently bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 4 hours, stirring frequently.
  3. When it's almost as thick as you want it (remember it will thicken as it cools), remove from the heat and pour through a fine sieve into sterilised jars.
  4. Keep refrigerated and use within a few weeks.
1. Using low-fat milk does NOT make this low-fat dulce de leche, because of the double cream obviously. But it sure sounds nice, doesn't it? 2. I went easy on the sugar and the result is a bit less sweet than you may have had before. It was still plenty sweet for us and I liked that the milky taste was able to come through. 3. Some (most) recipes call for vanilla - I left it out because I wanted a more pure flavour, and the Demerara sugar I used has a nice tone to it, that I didn't want to be overpowered. I'm going to stand by my decision. The pinch of salt I added could be upped if you wanted more of a salted toffee taste, but I'd prefer to add the salt/vanilla/cinnamon/peppermint - whatever you can think of - when you use it, thereby keeping most of the batch 'neutral' so it can have multiple applications. 4. My goal in making this was to use up excess 2% milk, which is why I had to add the heavy cream. If you're going to buy the milk just for this recipe, then buy whole milk (about 4 pints or 2 quarts) and leave the cream out. Much simpler!