Dulce de leche ice cream is made with the popular spread that originated in Latin America. It produces a rich and creamy ice cream with a heady taste of caramel.
For those who might be unfamiliar with dulce de leche, it’s a rich and creamy caramel-like sauce or spread, popular particularly in Argentina, Uruguay, and other countries in the region. The name “dulce de leche” translates to “sweet milk” in Spanish.
Traditionally, dulce de leche is made by slowly simmering sweetened condensed milk or regular milk with sugar over low heat for several hours. This slow cooking process causes the sugars in the milk to caramelize, resulting in a thick and sweet caramel-like consistency. The long cooking time also contributes to the distinctive flavor of dulce de leche.
Dulce de leche can be used in various ways. It is commonly spread on bread, toast, or crackers, similar to how one might use jam or peanut butter. It is also used as a filling for pastries, cakes, and cookies, or as a topping for ice cream, pancakes, or waffles. Some people even enjoy eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.
Different countries have their own variations of dulce de leche. For example, in Argentina, it is often used as a filling for alfajores, a popular sandwich cookie. In Uruguay, it is commonly enjoyed with pancakes or as a topping for a dessert called chajá. Other variations may include additional ingredients like vanilla, coconut, or chocolate to enhance the flavor.
To make delicious dulce de leche ice cream, you will need a few key ingredients.
Dulce de Leche: You can buy dulce de leche in jars or you can make it yourself from sweetened condensed milk that has been cooked down until it is thick and caramelized. My notes for how to do this are below.
Heavy Cream: Heavy whipping cream is what gives this ice cream its rich, creamy texture. Be sure to use heavy cream that has a high fat content for the best results.
Whole Milk: Whole milk is another important ingredient in this recipe. It helps to balance out the richness of the heavy cream and adds a slightly lighter texture to the ice cream.
Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar is used to sweeten the ice cream. Be sure to add it gradually to the egg mixture, whisking well after each addition, to ensure that it dissolves completely.
Vanilla Extract: A little bit of vanilla extract helps to balance out the sweetness of the dulce de leche and adds a warm, comforting flavor to the ice cream.
Salt: A pinch of salt helps to balance out the sweetness of the ice cream and enhance the flavors.
Egg yolks: Egg yolks are used to help thicken the ice cream base and give it a smooth, creamy texture.
Making homemade dulce de leche ice cream is a fun and easy process that can be done in just a few steps. The preparation process can be broken down into three main steps: preparing the dulce de leche mixture, making the ice cream base, and combining the dulce de leche mixture and ice cream base.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
Making dulce de leche at home requires only two ingredients: sweetened condensed milk and a pinch of salt. The condensed milk is cooked slowly until it caramelizes and thickens. This process can be done on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Here is a simple stovetop method:
- Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Add a pinch of salt and stir to combine.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about an hour or until the mixture thickens and turns a caramel color.
- Remove from heat and let cool before using.
You can choose to use store-bought Dulce de Leche!
Making the Custard mixture
The ice cream base is made by heating egg yolks, sugar, milk, and cream together until thickened. Follow these steps to make the ice cream base. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the remaining cream into a medium mixing bowl and set a sieve on top
Then in another bowl, whisk egg yolks. Pour the warm cream/milk mixture slowly add that to the eggs while whisking the whole time! (If you don’t, you will be making scrambled eggs!)
Once mixed, add that back to saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
When it reaches 170° and it begins to coat the back of the spatula, you can then pour it through the strainer into the other bowl with the cream in it. Add the vanilla and the dulce de leche to the warm custard mixture. Stir well to combine until the dulce de leche is fully incorporated into the custard.
Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Freeze (skip this step if you’re using an ice cream maker)
Transfer the homemade ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe container or a shallow loaf pan (and cover tightly with plastic wrap) and place it in the freezer for about 4 hours.
After it’s completely frozen, keep the ice cream at room temperature to partially thaw it. Transfer it to the food processor for a minute or two (for a light, fluffy texture). Transfer the ice cream back into its container and refreeze for at least 3 hours.
Chill and transfer to the ice cream maker (skip this step if you’re not using an ice cream maker)
Place the ice cream mixture into a large bowl in the refrigerator until it is chilled. Transfer the mixture to the chilled container of your ice cream machine and make the ice cream as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can start eating your ice cream immediately or keep it in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm it up.
When making fresh dulce de leche ice cream, there are a few essential pieces of equipment that are necessary to ensure the best results. Here are some of the key items needed:
- Ice Cream Maker: A good quality ice cream maker is a must-have for making ice cream at home. There are many different types of ice cream makers available, including electric and manual models. Choose one that suits your needs and budget.
- Measuring Spoons and Measuring Cups: You will need measuring cups and spoons to measure the ingredients accurately.
- Mixing Bowls: You will need several mixing bowls of various sizes to mix and store the ingredients.
- Fine mesh sieve: A fine mesh sieve is required to strain the blended marshmallow and milk mixture.
The Ice Cream maker to use!
You have to have an ice cream maker if you want to make ice cream or sorbet! I started making it using the Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato.
There is no faffing around with bowls in the freezer. When you are ready for ice cream, it’s ready. Just turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker and go. In about 40 minutes, you have ice cream that you can eat right then, or you can put it in the freezer to harden up a bit more. Once done in, you’ll have about 1 litre of ice cream ready to devour!
When making dulce de leche ice cream, there are a few tips and tricks that can help ensure success:
- Use high-quality ingredients: The flavor of your ice cream will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Opt for fresh, high-quality cream, milk, and eggs.
- Chill your mixture thoroughly: Before churning, make sure your ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled. This will help it freeze more quickly and evenly, resulting in a smoother texture. Aim for a temperature of around 40°F.
- Don’t overfill your ice cream maker: It can be tempting to fill your ice cream maker to the brim, but this can actually impede the freezing process. Stick to the manufacturer’s recommended capacity, and if you need to make a larger batch, do it in batches.
- Freeze your ice cream properly: Once your ice cream is churned, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze it for several hours or overnight. To prevent ice crystals from forming, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream before sealing the container.
By following these tips and tricks, you can create a a delicious ice cream that is sure to be a hit with everyone who tries it.
There are many ways to customize a dulce de leche ice cream recipe to suit your tastes. Here are a few ideas:
Adding a swirl or ribbon of fudge to your dulce de leche ice cream can take it to the next level. Simply heat it up and drizzle it over the ice cream, then use a knife or spatula to swirl it in. You can also add a dollop of peanut butter or Nutella for a delicious twist.
Chopped pecans add a nice crunch to the creamy texture of dulce de leche ice cream. Toast the pecans in a skillet with a little bit of butter and brown sugar until they are fragrant and golden brown. Then, sprinkle them over the top of the ice cream for a satisfying crunch.
Caramel sauce is a classic topping for dulce de leche ice cream. You can make your own by heating up sugar and water in a saucepan until it turns a deep amber color, then whisking in heavy cream and butter. Or, you can use store-bought caramel sauce for a quick and easy option.
A dollop of whipped cream on top of dulce de leche ice cream is a simple yet delicious addition. You can make your own whipped cream by whisking heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form, or you can use store-bought whipped cream.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own perfect version of this classic treat.
There are many variations of dulce de leche ice cream that can be made to suit different tastes. Here are a few popular ones that float my boat!
- Coffee Dulce de Leche Ice Cream: For those who love coffee, adding a shot of espresso or a tablespoon of instant coffee to the dulce de leche ice cream base can create a delicious coffee dulce de leche ice cream. Simply dissolve the instant coffee in a small amount of hot water before adding it to the ice cream base. For a stronger coffee flavor, use more coffee.
- Salted Caramel Ice Cream: Salted caramel is a popular flavor that can be easily added to dulce de leche ice cream. Simply add a pinch of salt to the ice cream base along with the dulce de leche. For a stronger salted caramel flavor, add more salt. Some recipes also call for making a separate salted caramel sauce and swirling it into the ice cream during the freezing process.
- Egg-Free Dulce de Leche Ice Cream: For those who are allergic to eggs or prefer not to use them, there are egg-free versions of dulce de leche ice cream. Instead of using eggs to create a custard base, these recipes use a combination of milk, cream, and sweetened condensed milk to create a rich and creamy ice cream base.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating delicious dulce de leche ice cream
Frequently asked questions
Can you make lactose-free ice cream?
Absolutely! If you don’t have lactose tolerance and want to enjoy homemade ice cream, you can replace whole milk with lactose-free milk. moreover, you can also use coconut cream or lactose-free heavy cream.
Can you make dairy-free ice cream?
Yes! If you want a dairy-free ice cream without compromising its creamy consistency, use full-fat coconut milk instead of dairy milk. You can also add coconut cream instead of heavy cream for more creaminess.
Is ice cream gluten-free?
Ice cream is typically gluten-free, but it’s important to check the ingredients list to make sure there are no gluten-containing additives.
How long does ice cream last in the freezer?
Homemade ice cream can last up to two weeks in the freezer, while store-bought varieties may last longer due to the addition of stabilizers. It’s important to store ice cream in an airtight container to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Is there a difference between caramel and dulce de leche?
Yes, there is a difference between caramel and dulce de leche. While both are made by caramelizing sugar, dulce de leche is made with sweetened condensed milk, which gives it a distinct flavor and texture. Dulce de leche has a richer, creamier flavor and a thicker, more spreadable consistency than regular caramel.
The Cherry on Top
It can get over the top, but if you are a caramel lover, than dulce de leche ice cream is one not to miss. I think with hot fudge, it’s one of the wonders of the world!
List of other ice cream recipes
Here’s the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream recipe!
Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup dulce de leche (if you are using sweetened condensed milk, then see the note below!)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and whole milk. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. Remove from heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Slowly pour about half of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the yolks and prevent them from curdling.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the dulce de leche until it becomes smooth.
- Add the dulce de leche to the saucepan with the custard mixture. Stir well to combine until the dulce de leche is fully incorporated into the custard.
- Cover and put in the fridge for at least two hours, but I would do overnight
- Take out of the fridge and make it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I always use my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker)*
- Wow everyone by serving it immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- Pour in the ice cream mixture, add the ice cream paddle and then turn it on
- I set the timer for 35 minutes
- You can always churn it longer if you want it harder
- Put it in the freezer to harden up some more