Dulce de leche is a thick, sweet confection made by caramelizing milk and sugar until it’s sticky and spreadable. It’s found throughout Latin America and comes in many regional variations. (In Mexico, for example, it’s made with goat milk and called cajeta.) You’ll also find it in other parts of the world — Russia, France, NorwaySouth Africa — you get the idea.

It’s also really, really good.

Naturally, with an ingredient found in so many countries, there are plenty of ways to use it. You can . . .

  • Spread or swirl it into brownies
  • Dab a bit into thumbprint cookies
  • Spread a layer between thin cookies
  • Melt it a little and then drizzle it over ice cream, swirl into milkshakes or layer a bit into ice cream sandwiches
  • Add a little layer to s’mores
  • Dollop decoratively on cheesecake
  • Use it as a waffle or pancake topping (or a crepe filling!)
  • Sweeten your milk or coffee
  • Use it as a dip for apple slices

Do you have clever ways to use dulce de leche? Share in the comments. But first, check out these recipes from our archives:

Dulce de Leche Bars, above. With a crumbly, butter bottom and a thick layer of caramel. We highly recommend topping this off with some flaky sea salt.

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

Dulce de Leche Macaroons. These drops are yet another way to use shredded coconut. They’re chewy and filled with crunchy bits thanks to chopped hazelnuts. The best thing about this recipe, though, is its short ingredient list — just five ingredients stand between you and buttery bliss.

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

Tropical Ice Cream Cake. This creation, inspired by Carvel, is easier to assemble than you might think. The crust is a mix of butter, flaked or shredded coconut and chocolate wafers. The ice cream layer is simply store-bought vanilla ice cream spiked with dulce de leche and dark rum. Garnish with crushed chocolate wafers, whipped cream, more dulce de leche, toasted coconut flakes and, if you want, sprinkles. (Or if you’re feeling REALLY fancy, edible glitter.)

(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Pie With Marcona Almonds. Further proof that graham crackers are the sleeper hits of summer (with dulce de leche coming in second). A simple graham cracker crust forms the base for a thick layer of the caramel; top that with chopped, salted Marcona almonds (or other roasted, salted nuts if you prefer), then spread vanilla ice cream on top. The hardest part is waiting one-and-a-half hours for the whole thing to firm up before slicing.

(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Tres Leches Ice Cream. Okay, this recipe doesn’t actually have any dulce de leche in it, but it serves as a reminder that ice cream + dulce de leche = good things. Especially if that ice cream is one that tastes like tres leches cake.

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