You know in my last post how I mentioned slathering dulce de leche over vanilla ice cream in a cookie cup? Well, there’s a really easy way of making your own caramel, using sweetened condensed milk. Granted, it’s not easier than just buying it off the shelf in civilised countries like the US and the UK, but for those who live in villages (i.e. Greece) all you need is a slow cooker and the process is headache free. For a long while I used the “boiling-cans-in-water” method, which works fine but a. I was checking on the saucepan every 10 minutes worried about exploding cans and caramel coated kitchen walls, and b. I didn’t like the idea of the milk bubbling away in a tin for over 2 hours. I’m sure there are other ways, like maybe a water bath in the oven? But who wants their oven on for so long?
You can adapt this method to your own slow cooker; if it’s a large one you might get more quantities in. Just check how many heat-proof ramekins (or coffee mugs should work) fit in the slow cooker insert. My 3.5L slow cooker takes 2 ramekins which in turn take one tin of condensed milk. If yours fits more ramekins, use more milk. The caramel keeps well in the fridge in an old jam jar.
1 tin sweetened condensed milk, approx. 400g (the thick creamy milk that has sugar in it, not the evaporated milk that we dilute with water)
hot water for the slow cooker insert
1. Fill the slow cooker insert with water to create a bath for the ramekins (water should come half way or 3/4 way up the sides). Keep in mind that when you put them in, the water level will rise!
2. Pour the condensed milk into the ramekins and put them into their bath.
3. Cover with foil so the condensation doesn’t fall back into the milk (see photos).
4. Turn slow cooker on to high and leave for about 4-5 hours. Adjust timings if your slow cooker tends to cook a little faster. You can check the progress by carefully peeking under the foil. Caramel is done when it has turned the colour of, um, caramel. The longer you leave it, the darker and thicker it will get. Mine is good after 5 hours.
Other cool ideas for your slow cooker
Slow Cooker Jacket (Baked) Potatoes, my most popular post ever
Hot Dogs for a Crowd, by A Year of Slow Cooking
CrockPot Play Dough Recipe, by A Year of Slow Cooking