So I've heard things about turning sweetened condensed milk into caramel, while it's still in the can. I googled my little heart out and found times ranging from 2-4 hours so I did a little experiment on the rainy afternoon we had here in the Chicago area. First I went to Jewel, they were all out of their store brand and I refused to pay $2.59 a can for something that may or may not work so I headed off to Aldi and the $1.39 price tag for an experiment was easier to deal with. Yes, I'm cheap, get over it!
The basic instructions are that you boil the can in a water bath for a specified amount of time then allow to cool and when you open it radiates sunshine and does that little, "oahhhhh" sound like you've struck gold.
I first came across the link on 2 peas and decided my ass couldn't be left out of the widening party which is what sparked my little experiment.
The results? OMGWTFBBQ?! This is like the holy grail of all that is right with the world!
The 2 hour was the best one for pouring, this one is the perfect consistency for drizzling over ice cream, dipping, or even to pour in some coffee. Lighter in color.
The 3 hour is what I call the "all-purpose" version. It's still got a nice drizzle to it but it's a little thicker so you can decorate a plate with it, drizzle it on top of a dessert, use as a filling for chocolate candies, or dipping. Typical caramel color.
The 4 hour one is the one I'm on the fence about. I didn't care for it, it tasted a little burned however after adding some vanilla it was better, needs a little more vanilla than the other two to get rid of the burned taste. This one is a lot thicker than the 2 hour one and would be great for pies or cake fillings. Not for drizzling. Color is darker.
I tried each one with and without vanilla. I preferred them all with the vanilla added however the 2 hour one had the best 'naked' taste to it.
So, from L-R we have the 2 hour, 3 hour, and 4 hour.
**PLEASE TAKE NOTE** When you are boiling these you MUST keep a watchful eye on the water level, take a peek every 30-45 mins, it evaporates quicker than you think. If the water drops below the level of the top of the can it could explode. And no, I'm not responsible if you blow up cans caramel in your kitchen. Mines messy enough without having to clean yours! :p
Wanna freebie? Here are download links to the instructions and some labels: