Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I’ll show you how to make homemade sweetened condensed milk. There’s even a dairy-free option, and it’s all so easy!
Sweetened condensed milk is the nectar of the gods. It’s something about that combination of milk and lightly caramelized sugar that just sends me.
One of two essential ingredients in my favorite no-churn homemade ice cream, it’s actually relatively expensive to buy ready-made. I usually find it in my local grocery store for at least $3.50 for 14 ounces. 😳
Lately, my kids have been asking me to make a homemade Starbucks-style Frappuccino drink. They spend their onw money on things like that, and it’s not cheap! One of the cheapest ways to make a café-style drink like that at home is with my homemade sweetened condensed milk.
You can even make it with unrefined sugars, and even dairy free. Say what?!
We’re going to make it three ways: from fresh whole milk, from evaporated milk, and dairy-free from canned coconut milk. I used granulated sugar, but you can use unrefined sugars if that’s your preference (see the ingredient lists for suggestions).
Keep in mind that, if you use maple syrup, it will take longer to reduce as maple syrup has a very high liquid content. In the photo above, the variety in the foreground is made with evaporated milk (my favorite kind, as it’s by far the easiest).
All it takes is simmering a mixture of your chosen milk, sugar and a pinch of salt over medium heat until it thickens. To prevent anything from burning on the bottom of the pan, whisk occasionally.
It will go from thickened to burnt rather quickly, so keep an eye on things. The variation made with whole milk is the one I rarely make. It develops curds as you cook the milk and it thickens before it turns particularly amber in color.
The evaporated milk variety and the dairy free variety are my favorites. They’re the easiest in preparation, and even my favorite in taste, texture and usefulness.
For my dairy-free friends, today’s recipe is especially important. Lately, I have seen dairy free sweetend condensed milk for sale, but I’m afraid to even look at the price tag.
Keep in mind that the dairy-free variety never really turns any more amber in color. Even though the sugars begin to caramelize, the canned coconut milk is just.so.white. Use it to make my recipe for Really Nice Dairy Free Fudge.
Of course, you can also use regular whole milk, but as you heat the mixture it will develop curds that must be skimmed off, and it will take a significantly longer time to reduce and thicken. The end result is certainly worth it, though! Without it, how would we make homemade Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice?
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar (can be replaced with 1 1/4 cups (420 g) maple syrup, or 1 cup (336 g) honey)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
The three lists of ingredients (Whole-, Evaporated-, and Dairy-Free- Sweetened Condensed Milks) above are alternatives. Choose the ingredient list that best suits your needs, place all 3 of the ingredients in that list in a medium-size heavy bottom saucepan, and whisk to combine well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
Whole Sweetened Condensed Milk. Only the whole milk variety will begin to develop curds that accumulate on the top of the liquid. Skim those off and discard them. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 5/8 (more than half, less than three-quarters) and has begun to thicken (about 1 hour). Place a sieve over the top of a heat-safe container, and pour the sweetened condensed milk through the sieve to remove any dark, caramelized bits. Allow to cool completely before covering tightly and storing in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.
Evaporated Sweetened Condensed Milk. This variety is significantly easier to work with, as it will not develop curds and will thicken much more quickly. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 1/2 and has begun to thicken (about 30 minutes). Place a sieve over the top of a heat-safe container, and pour the sweetened condensed milk through the sieve to remove any dark, caramelized bits. Allow to cool completely before covering tightly and storing in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.
Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk. This variety is perhaps the easiest to work with, as it will not develop curds and thickens very quickly. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 1/2 and has begun to thicken (about 12 minutes). Transfer to a heat-safe container until cooled completely. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.
Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe unchanged, method tweaked slightly, video and most photos new.
These healthy cereal bars are just like KIND bars, but you customize them and you control the amount of honey!
Snacking happens. It just does. If you’re my kid, you’re not going to eat candy right before dinner, but you are going to eat in between meals. Let’s do it right, then.
When my kids were super little, I was soooo focused on keeping them on a plan for two things: sleeping and eating. They napped in their own beds, and they went to sleep at a very reasonable hour.
And they ate 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. That’s it. The snacks were things like fresh fruit, maybe some cheese and crackers.
We didn’t really do energy bars, and breakfast was eggs and fruit. Not cereal. Not cereal bars. No way. That was then, and this is now. Now my kids are older, and I’m less obsessed with their eating between meals. They play sports, and they’re always hungry. At least I can try to get something good into them.
Cereal or no cereal?
Most cereals are full of extra sugar, and don’t satisfy anyone for very long. Not to mention how incredibly expensive breakfast cereals are.
For so many years, I got up extra early and made them eggs for breakfast every single school morning. Whether they liked it or not. Eggs pack so much more bang for your breakfast buck than cereal.
But sometimes, the cupboards are bare… except for some cereal and milk. So cereal it is. We buy mostly Chex cereals, and I’m glad to have them when we need them.
My personal favorite gluten free cereal is puffed rice. You know, Rice Krispies-style cereal. There are a number of companies that make gluten free puffed rice.
I usually buy Erewhon crisp rice cereal, since it’s super simple and good quality. If I can find it on sale, I’ll also buy Nature’s Path Organic Crispy Rice, but I think it has more sugar.
Store bought or homemade?
For on the go breakfasts, and for snacks between meals, these days we do buy a bunch of gluten free energy bars and cereal bars. My kids tend to be divided about which is the “best” gluten free bar.
Some of them taste downright awful to me, like Quest bars, and ain’t nobody gonna convince me otherwise. KIND bars come in a million different flavors, and there’s usually something for everyone. Many of them really are cereal bars, not just fruit and nut bars.
Luna bars are really more like candy bars, but my oldest can’t seem to live without them. She will go for one of my homemade protein bars, though, if I have one on offer. But let’s face it: sometimes it’s just not possible!
Make them your own
If you’re willing to make a batch or two of your own bars, a recipe like this one for gluten free cereal bars can really save the day. It’s so easy to swap out one nut for another, or even some of the nuts for some dried fruit.
There are a few rules to follow if you want to make cereal bars that actually hold together, instead of crumbling into a weepy mess in your hands. But you can still customize them in plenty of ways, and even cut back on the honey quite a bit.
Here are the rules:
⇢Rule #1. Use raw, unsalted nuts. If you add a lot of really processed nuts, like salted this and roasted that, you’ll pay more for the nuts and you’ll be stuck with that flavor profile.
⇢Rule #2. The recipe calls for 1/2 to 3/4 cup (168 g to 252 g) honey and/or Lyle’s Golden Syrup. You need a thick, sticky sugar to hold these bars together. You can use 1/2 cup, but don’t use less. The bars just won’t hold together. Trust me I’ve tried.
⇢Rule #3. Use softer nuts that are easy to break, like pecans, cashews and peanuts. If you want to use other nuts, like almonds, buy them slivered or sliced. I’ve used whole or chopped almonds, and they are just too large to hold together in the bar without using a metric ton of honey.
And remember, if you’re going to ruin my kid’s appetite for a meal, you’d better really ruin it. Like, don’t send them back to me feeling a little hungry. A kid who is a little hungry is going to be really picky. And I don’t do picky.
Prep time:Cook time:
3 cups (350 g) raw unsalted nuts (I recommend a combination of cashews, pecans, peanuts and slivered almonds)
3 tablespoons (42 g) virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (168 g to 252 g) honey and/or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped and melted (optional)
Preheat your oven to 300°F. Line a quarter sheet pan (a shallow rimmed 9 x 13-inch baking sheet) with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the raw nuts, chopped chocolate, rice cereal, and salt, and mix to combine. Break up any large pieces of nuts or chocolate. Add the oil, and the honey and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and mix to combine well. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, and spread it into an even layer. Cover with another sheet of unbleached parchment paper, and press firmly to compress the mixture into an even layer.
Remove the top sheet of parchment, and place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the mixture is lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Without removing the bars from the baking sheet and using a bench scraper or butter knife, slice into bars by cutting down the length in the center, and then across into two rows of 7 bars each. Place the bars in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or in the freezer for about 5 minutes, until completely chilled.
Remove the bars from the refrigerator or freezer, and separate them along the scored lines. Drizzle with the optional melted dark chocolate and allow to set. Serve or store the bars in the refrigerator or freezer.
These gluten free New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies taste exactly like the famous crispy-outside-chewy-inside cookies published by the New York Times in 2009. You just won’t believe how good they are!
I have many recipes for chocolate chip cookies on this site. But this is the only recipe I have that is quite literally the stuff of legends. Like the time (just yesterday) that I gave my husband half of one cookie—and then he took out his wallet and offered me $1 for another cookie.
I talked him up to 2 bucks, and took his money. 💸 Our children looked on in total confusion, and then offered up their own piggybanks. I turned them down. I’m not that crazy.
Before Bakes Bread, there was no gluten free bread flour. Now, we have gluten free bread flour. A whole new world of possibilities has opened up.
These are the cookies to scale, in the hands of my then 8-year-old daughter. They are not for the faint of heart.
You can, of course, make them smaller. Just divide the dough into whatever size pieces you like best, and bake them as directed. You’ll just have to watch the baking time, as they will be done baking faster if they’re smaller.
What makes these cookies different?
What makes these cookies different is the flour used to make them, mostly. Are you familiar with the Famous New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies? They’re made with a combination of bread flour and cake flour.
We make bread flour like we do with our newer-style gluten free breads. We make cake flour the way everyone does: with a combination of about 80% all purpose (gluten free) flour + 20% cornstarch.
All that means is that, if you have 1 cup (or 140 grams) of flour, 80% (or 112 grams) will be an all purpose gluten free flour blend, and 20% (or 28 grams) will be cornstarch. Here, I’ve done the math for you in the recipe below by including all purpose gluten free flour (my mock Better Batter or Better Batter itself work best here) and cornstarch separately in the ingredients.
If you can’t have cornstarch, try using potato starch or arrowroot. It should work just fine. If you can’t have dairy, you can try using rice protein isolate or pea protein in place of whey protein isolate, along with Expandex, in the bread flour. I haven’t tried it, though, so you’ll be experimenting!
Why chill the dough?
The dough really does benefit from being chilled for 24 to 72 hours. I’ve tried baking the dough right away, and baking it after chilling it for at least a full day. The texture of the baked cookies is really amazing after the wait.
In fact, even the color of the dough seems to change color a bit as the dough rests. It goes from being quite light in color to a deeper brown, a bit more like the cookies as baked. I could make up some sort of smartypants science reason for that, but I like you too much. :)
If you think you won’t be able to wait without even a taste, try chilling half the dough and baking off half the dough. Then, you can judge whether it was worth the wait.
One way or another, you’re gonna need to make these. They’re the perfect combination of chewy (in the center) and crispy (on the edges).
Be sure to sprinkle that little bit of coarse salt on top.That salty-sweet combination of tastes, along with all that texture magic, is something you won’t soon forget.
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 1/2 tablespoons (14 g) cornstarch
7/8 cup (122 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour*
5/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (120 g) granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (140 g) packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg (60 g) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate disks
Coarse salt, for sprinkling
*BREAD FLOUR NOTES
1 cup (140 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour, as discussed more fully on pages 8 to 10 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, contains 100 grams Mock Better Batter all purpose gluten free flour (or Better Batter itself) + 25 grams whey protein isolate (I use NOW Foods brand) + 15 grams Expandex modified tapioca starch.
In a large bowl, place the all purpose flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the light brown sugar, and whisk again to combine, working to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, egg and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will be thick. Add the chocolate disks, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout. Wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate ideally for 24 to 72 hours.
On baking day, preheat your oven to 350°F. Line three large rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper. Divide the dough into 9 balls, each about 3 1/2 ounces (the size of generous golf balls), and place them at least 6 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the tops lightly with coarse salt, and place in the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown all over but still soft toward the center (18 to 20 minutes). The cookies will spread to about 5-inches in diameter. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, or until set before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.