Condensed and Evaporated Milk in Cooking
In cooking, especially in Latin, Eastern European and occasionally some Asian cuisines, a recipe may call for canned condensed or evaporated milk. The two aren’t interchangeable and using the wrong type may result in a recipe failure.
Condensed milk was introduced in the United States in the late 1800’s before refrigeration was commonplace and was widely used in areas of the country located a distance away from farms or sources of fresh milk. Early condensed milk contained no added sugar. Unsweetened condensed milk is still available today, but difficult to find in many areas. Most condensed milk available today in the U.S. is sweetened (Eagle Brand is a national store brand). Sweetened condensed milk requires less processing than evaporated milk since the added sugar inhibits bacterial growth. It contains 40 to 45 percent sugar. Some Asian varieties of sweetened condensed milk also have palm oil as an additive. Asian recipes calling for a sweetened condensed product can use Western brands interchangeably without an adverse effect on the recipe. When mixed with an acidic ingredient, sweetened condensed milk thickens naturally without requiring heat
Canned evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf stable product with 60% of the water removed from fresh milk. It differs from sweetened condensed milk in that it has undergone a more complex manufacturing process and has no added sugar. A slightly caramelized flavor results from the high heat process, and it is slightly darker in color than fresh milk. Households in the western world use it most often today for desserts and baking due to its unique flavor. It is sometimes also used as a substitute for pouring cream as a rich substitute for milk. In the U.S., Carnation is a national store brand.
Both types should always be refrigerated after opening. Due to its high sugar content, condensed milk will last longer after opening than evaporated milk, but use both optimally within five to seven days after opening.
Freezing of evaporated milk is not recommended. The milk solids separate from the water when thawed and no amount of stirring, shaking or blending will completely homogenize it back to its original texture. Sweetened condensed milk, however, may be frozen if poured into an airtight freezer approved container or freezer bag.
Condensed Milk Uses In World Cuisine
Condensed milk is used in recipes for the popular Brazilian candy brigadeiro in which condensed milk is the main ingredient.
In parts of Asia and Europe, sweetened condensed milk is the preferred milk to be added to coffee or tea. Many countries in South East Asia use condensed milk in iced coffee and tea. A popular treat in Asia is to put condensed milk on toast and eat it in a similar way as jam and toast. It’s sold in squeeze bottles for this very purpose. Condensed milk is a major ingredient in many Indian desserts and sweets.
In New Orleans, it is commonly used as a topping on top of a snow cone. In Scotland, it is mixed with sugar and butter and baked to form a popular sweet candy called Tablet. In some parts of the Southern U.S., condensed milk is a key ingredient in icebox cream pies and salad dressings. In the Philippines, condensed milk is poured over shaved ice with other ingredients for the snack called Halo-Halo.
In Poland it is common to boil a can of condensed milk in water for about 2 hours. The resulting product is called kaymak- a thick, sweet semiliquid used as a cake icing or put between dry wafers. The same process is done in Latin American countries to make Dulce de Leche, an ingredient in cakes, custards and many other desserts.
Recipe: Condensed Milk Pound Cake
CONDENSED MILK POUND CAKE
from Pichet Ong’s Sweet Spot
A lovely, dense pound cake full of vanilla flavor perfect by itself or as a base for fruit deserts
Makes one 8 1/2 -x- 4 1/2 inch cake, about 12 servings
1 cup (8 oz/226 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/3 cups (7 oz/200g) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz/ 106g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, chopped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (8 oz/239g) sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 325° F.
- Generously butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 – inch loaf pan and set aside.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
- Put the sugar and the chopped vanilla bean, if using, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the vanilla bean is finely ground. Sift through a fine-mesh sieve and return the sugar mixture to the food processor. If not using the vanilla bean, just put the sugar in the processor.
- Add the butter and salt and process until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. Add the condensed milk and pulse until well incorporated, about 15 times, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients and pulse until no traces of flour remain, about 10 times. Add the eggs and pulse just until combined, about 5 times. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla extract, if using, and finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the eggs.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan. Bake until the top is dark golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 65-75 minutes. Cool completely in the loaf pan on a rack, then unmold.
Recipe: Dulce de Leche
Dulce de Leche
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Remove label from can and place in a pan large enough to cover top of the can with water by at least several inches. Bring water to a boil, lower to simmer and cook for 3 hours making certain top of can stays covered by water at all times. Top off with additional boiling water during the process as the water over the can evaporates. Make certain the can is in perfect condition with no dents that could weaken the can during cooking.
Remove the pan from the stove and set aside to cool. Carefully remove can from the water, ready to use when can is cool.
Can make multiple cans at the same time as long as your pot is large enough to keep tops of can covered with water. This method is safe as long as you start with a can that is undamaged and if you keep the can totally covered with several inches of water for the entire process. I make a few cans at a time and keep the unopened cans in my fridge so I always have it on hand
RECIPE: Macaroni Salad with Condensed Milk Dressing
Macaroni Salad with Condensed Milk Dressing
16 ounces elbow macaroni cooked & cooled
1 cup diced celery
½ cup red or green bell pepper
¼ cup finely minced red onion
½ cup grated peeled carrot
¼ cup finely minced fresh Italian parsley
½ can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon salt
paprika for garnish
Combine milk, mayonnaise, vinegar and salt. In a large bowl combine all ingredients till well mixed. Refrigerate till serving time. Garnish with paprika.
Recipe: Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (12 to 15 key limes or 3 to 4 common limes)
- 4 teaspoons grated lime zest
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 11 graham crackers
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Whisk the egg yolks and lime zest together in a bowl until tinted light green. This takes about 2 minutes
2. Beat in milk, then juice and set aside at room temperature till it thickens.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
4. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in another bowl.
5. Add butter and stir with a fork until well blended.
6. Pour crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and press over the bottom and up the sides of the pan making sure to firm crust on the bottom of the pie pan.
7. Bake on the center rack for about 15 minutes until the crust is lightly brown, remove and let cool to room temperature.
8. Pour the lime filling into crust, spread evenly, and then bake for 15 minutes until the center sets, but still wiggles when shaken.
9. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
10. Refrigerate for at least three hours until well chilled. Serve as is or with sweetened whipped cream.