Thick, creamy smooth and sweet, dulce de leche can be used as a filling for wafer cookies, swirled into ice cream or a filling for cakes, tarts and other sweets. There are several ways to achieve Dulce nirvana. Which one is your favorite?
REMOVING THE LABEL FOR INSTANT POT OR STOVETOP METHODS:
Remove the label from the sealed can of sweetened condensed milk. Spray the sticky adhesive on the can with Goo Gone or other residue removing product and let it sit for 5 minutes. Use a paper towel to rub away any remaining adhesive, be sure to remove it all. Wash the can with soap and water and run your fingers around the can to make sure you've gotten all the adhesive off of the can.
Remove the label as directed above. Use a can opener to open the sweetened condensed milk about 90% open. Arrange the lid so that it's raised about 30° from horizontal. Place a small 5 or 6 inch rag or old dishtowel in the bottom of a small saucepan. Place the can on top of the rag so that it's even in the pan and doesn't wobble. Fill the pan with water so that it reaches about 3/4 way up the can. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium simmer.
Cook the sweetened condensed milk for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, adding more water every 15-20 minutes to maintain the same level of water in the saucepan, so that it's always reaching about 3/4 of the way up the can. (The top of the condensed milk may not change colors as it cooks, but underneath that top layer, it is gently cooking.)
Hold a pair of tongs in one hand and a dry dish towel in the other. Carefully lift the can of dulce de leche with the tongs and quickly place the dishtowel under the can to support it. Place the can on the counter and let it cool for a few minutes until you can safely touch the top of the can. When it's cool, lift the lid to vertical and use a spoon to stir the contents of the can until it's well blended. It's very hot and almost molten after it's done cooking, so don't just lick the spoon immediately -- or you'll get burned.
Transfer the dulce de leche to an airtight storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.
INSTANT POT METHOD:
Remove the label as directed above. Place a small dish towel in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the can on top of the towel on it's side, not sitting up. Add cold water to the Instant pot until it covers the can by one inch. Be sure not to fill the pot higher than the Maximum allowable level.
Seal the lid onto the Instant Pot and pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
Remove the can from the water with a pair of tongs and set aside to cool to room temperature. When you're ready to use the Dulce de leche, open the can. Note: it doesn't need to be refrigerated until the can is opened. It will last for months like this.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Transfer the sweetened condensed milk to a 9" deep dish pie plate (glass or ceramic) and cover tightly with tin foil.
Place the pie plate in a larger roasting pan with high sides. Add hot water to the roasting pan being particularly careful not to splash water on the foil or into the sweetened condensed milk. Tuck the ends of the foil up tightly under the rim of the pan so that the foil doesn't rest in the water.
Bake in the water bath for 2 hours. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set aside. When the water in the pan has cooled enough to handle, remove the pie plate from the water bath. Discard the tin foil and use a whisk to stir the dulce de leche until it's creamy and smooth. Transfer to a glass jar or other well sealed container. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.