Manjar Blanco / Dulce de Leche

This rich, caramely sweet is known by many names: dulce de leche in much of South and Central America; cajeta in Mexico and Nicaragua; arequipe in Columbia; manjar in Chile, Ecuador and Panama; and manjar blanco in Peru. Its origins are obscure. But it is essentially the same everywhere: slow-cooked sweetened milk, reduced down to a thick caramel pudding consistency.

This is my favorite manjar blanco recipe – it’s simple and straightforward, and I’ve found it to be consistent. The key is low, steady heat and frequent stirring. Use it as a spread, a filling, or – if you don’t reduce it quite as much – a dessert sauce.



  • Condensed milk        2 cans (28 oz.)
  • Evaporated milk       2 cans (24 oz.)
  • Baking soda               1 tsp.
  • Vanilla extract           1 tsp.


  1. Combine milks and soda in a high, heavy copper-bottomed saucepot two to three larger than the amount of liquid.
  2. Bring to low boil over medium heat, whisking constantly (soda will foam over!).
  3. Reduce to very low heat; whisk until foaming ceases and volume falls.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring very frequently; watch for scorching.
  5. Reduce by at least one-third to one-half volume. Cook to a medium caramel color (about 45 minutes to1 hour).
  6. Be careful when it begins to color, because it will turn very dark very quickly.
  7. Manjar blanco is ready when the mixture stays separated for a few seconds when a wooden spoon is dragged across bottom of the pan.
  8. Alternately, you can take a small spoonful out and allow it to cool, in order to determine if it has reached the desired thickness.
  9. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  10. Cool completely in pot, stirring occasionally.
  11. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or use immediately.


  • Re-crystallizes very easily; do not refrigerate or reheat.


  • Chocolate: stir in 1 oz. butter and ¼ cup sifted cocoa (or 1-2 ounces chopped dark chocolate) when removing from heat.
  • If making sauce: don’t reduce quite as much; and add 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup with the vanilla.

Copyright ©
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.


  5 comments for “Manjar Blanco / Dulce de Leche

  1. Juan
    April 1, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    The origin of this great desert is not obscure. It was brought to Peru by the immigrants from Catalunya, Spain. They used to prepare a entree “Menjar Blanc” (white meal) made of milk of almonds. Once in Peru, this entree was customized to the region’s species and diverted in two: manjar blanco (Peruvian desert), and Aji de Gallina (Peruvian entree). Both still present in modern Peru, and the desert spread to other South America countries slightly changing its name.

    • April 1, 2013 at 5:53 AM

      Thank you for your comment! That is true – I meant that its European / Iberian origins are not clear (though it is similar to the French blancmange and other recipes, which may have a common origin). Sorry I wasn’t more clear. Thank you for reading!

      • April 1, 2013 at 5:57 AM

        Though I don’t think aji de gallina is related to manjar blanco. It was changed by the Spanish, but is most likely a pre-Columbian Inca dish. Again, thank you for commenting!

  2. April 16, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I absolutely love these cookies and I would like to make them, but what do you mean by step 5?

    • April 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Hi Trish – step 5: once the dough is formed, roll or pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill it until it’s firm. The dough is so soft that it needs to be cold when it’s rolled out. Hope that helps. Thank you for reading – hope you enjoy the cookies!

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