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Dec 19, 2009 09:32 AM

Question about Caramel Cake Icing

Do y'all think you could use dulche de leche in lieu of the caramel icing in the following caramel cake recipe, or would the consistency of dulche de leche not be thick enough?

On a related note, I keep reading about baking a can of sweetened condensed milk to turn it into dulche de leche and the possibility of an "exploding can". Has anyone actually had an "exploding can" happen? I just wonder what the odds are that it really would happen because so many people seem to have baked the can with great success.....

Complete recipe at:

December 16, 2009
Caramel Cake

Adapted from Virginia Willis and Scott Peacock

Time: About 1 1/2 hours


1 cup softened butter, plus more to grease pans

3 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk


2 1/2 cups sugar

8 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda.

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  1. I would make the caramel icing, there is a big difference. People usually boil the can covered in water, I have never heard of baking it, that sounds even more dangerous.

    If you do boil it, make sure the can is 100% cool before opening it or it will explode.

    1. I knew someone who had a can of condensed milk explode on them. I don't think the chances are all that great, but it can happen. If I were doing it, I'd put the can in a pressure cooker.

      Caramel frosting- toasted sugar
      Dulce de leche- toasted milk proteins

      Also, from the lack of crystallization inhibitors and the instructions to beat the frosting, I get a strong feeling that the caramel frosting relies on crystallization for texture. I would think that even if you added butter and cooked dulce de leche to 240 deg. (same stage/water content as the recipe) and whipped it, you might not get the same consistency as the recipe.

      Perhaps if you chilled it so the butter would set up a bit, it might be stiff enough to whip, but I would think this recipe would suffer from being served chilled.

      1. It wouldn't be thick enough but you can make a simple dulce de leche frosting with the boiled can of condensed milk. One is by adding it to cream cheese (although I know a lot of people who don't like cream cheese). Another is make regular american buttercream, less sugar, and add dulce de leche to it.

        1. The dulce will not have quite the flavor profile of caramel. For the real deal, I'd make the caramel icing. This recipe is a classic Southern cake and you want to original.

          The "boiling can" technique works, but you need to punch two holes in the top of the can, keep the can submerged up to an inch from the top of the can in the boiling water for three to four hours, depending on what thickness you want the dulce to have. I think sometimes people forget about it on the stovetop and then...there's other ways to make it, slow cooker, pressure cooker, microwave, stovetop stirring forever. Dulce de leche is a great ingredient for ice cream, cake, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, etc.

          1. Thanks so much everyone! Happy holidays!