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Sweetened condensed milk (SCM) is cow's milk from which the water has been removed. Sugar is then added. The result is a very thick, sweet, creamy product, almost the consistency of pudding. SCM is available in cans and, outside the U.S., in large tubes that look like toothpaste. Unopened, containers of SCM can last for years. Cooks all over the world use SCM for desserts and sweets. Rich caramel icing, using SCM, is delicious and easy to make.

Make the Frosting

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Combine all the ingredients except vanilla in the saucepan.

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Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

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Turn down the heat. Cook the mixture three to five minutes over medium-low heat.

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Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. By adding vanilla after cooking, you don't lose a bit of its flavor to evaporation.

Using Caramel Icing

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Spread the icing, cooled slightly, on quick breads such as banana bread or zucchini bread.

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Cool the caramel icing for an hour, then whip using an electric mixer. Incorporating air creates a frosting with a lighter texture that's great for layer cakes or sheet cakes. Spice, carrot, banana and black walnut cakes are especially delicious with caramel icing.

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Frost cupcakes with either the whipped or unwhipped versions of caramel icing.

Dulce de Leche

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Make a simple -- but not quick -- caramel icing that the Spanish call Dulce de Leche. Peel the label from a can of sweetened condensed milk. Place the unopened can in gently boiling water.

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Simmer for about three hours. Make sure the water doesn't boil out of the pan or the can will explode.

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Open the can to enjoy a thick, caramel icing.

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Try making this caramel icing in your slow cooker. Peel the label from one (or more) cans of sweetened condensed milk. Put the cans in the bottom of the slow cooker and cover completely with water.

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Cook on low heat, tightly covered, for about eight hours. Enjoy!

Tip

Add flaked coconut to caramel icing for German Chocolate Cake. Or, add flavoring other than vanilla to the cooked icing. Try a tablespoon of Bailey's Irish Cream for extra richness and depth of flavor.

Warning

Borden's Eagle Brand, one of the makers of sweetened condensed milk, does not recommend that you heat their product in the can. There is a risk that the can could explode. Never try to heat a can in a microwave or conventional oven.

About the Author

Denise Dayton

Denise Dayton, M.Ed., M.S. teaches career readiness and workplace success, along with other business courses, at a small college in New England.