Dulce de Leche: Easy, Delicious Caramel Cake Filling Recipe

Hapå, sweetened condensed milk cake filling


And now, presenting a delicious, creamy food that I discovered a while back; you could say a year ago or so, or you could say several decades ago, depending on how you see it. I found this recipe for cake filling not too long ago. People were talking about how easy it was to make, and how different and delightful it tasted. I decided to give it a try. When it was done, I tasted it and discovered that I had made a product I remember from my childhood, a caramel flavored sandwich spread: HAPÅ! It was quite a revelation, the least I expected, and there was no doubt about it! It was exactly like Hapå both with regard to flavor, texture, and color. It never would have occurred to me to use this product as cake filling, however, but why not? It is smooth, sweet, looks and tastes a bit like caramel, glossy and pretty and very easy to prepare. Since then I have discovered the same product at supermarkets, in the Mexican area of the international section labeled “Dulce de Leche”. So obviously it is not really a Norwegian food, but can be found in various countries of the world under different names. But for me it will always be Hapå!

It will take 2 hours of your time to prepare although you mostly leave it alone during that time. So if you are going to be at home anyway, it couldn’t be easier! In addition, there is hardly any mess or clean-up to take care of. This stuff also seems to keep very well. I have had it in my refrigerator for weeks at a time without spoiling. It will start to crystallize after a while, but it doesn’t seem to actually go bad very easily if refrigerated.

If you do try this recipe, I would really appreciate a quick comment with a star rating (option found immediately under each recipe). It helps me out tremendously! Thanks in advance!

Here is the “secret” one ingredient: Sweetened condensed milk. This is concentrated milk with a lot of added sugar. So it is sweet, cream colored, very thick, and smooth.  You really could call it “syrup”. “Milk syrup”, perhaps? Or “sweetened, condensed milk”, actually!

Sweetened condensed milk in can
In order to make this Hapå cake filling, Dulce de Leche, or “sandwich spread” as we called it, you start by first removing the label from one can of sweetened condensed milk. Do NOT open the can! Leave it intact. Then you place the unopened can in a pot deep enough to hold the can plus enough water to cover the can by at least one inch. So, fill up the pot and make sure the water level is at least one inch above the can. I’ve heard it said that if there is not enough water to completely cover the can, it can explode. Whether this is accurate information I don’t know, but I am not willing to test it to find out! I’ll just keep it good ‘n covered.

Can in pot
Bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

Can in boiling water
After two hours (no more, or it will thicken too much), carefully pour out the water or grab the can with tongs, and let it cool for at least 30 min. before opening the can.

Hot can on rack
Before boiling, the “milk” will be white or cream colored. After boiling, this is what it will look like:

Cake filling, carmelCake filling, sweetened condenced milk
The boiling process causes the milk and sugar to caramelize and thicken further, which adds flavor and color. I like to keep it in a small jar as it is not recommended to leave food in a can after opening. Also, it does need to be refrigerated after opening.

Living away from the country I grew up in, it is always fun to discover things over here that I was used to as a child. And this time it was Hapå! Others may recognize this as Dulce de Leche. Whether you use it as a cake filling or a sandwich spread, it is thick, creamy and smooth, and has a wonderful milky caramel flavor! Please comment and rate this recipe if you try it; option is found immediately under the recipe. Thank you!!

Hapå, Dulce de Leche Carmel Cake Filling
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Thick, creamy caramel cake filling, or ice cream topping.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Water
  1. Remove label from can, but leave can intact. Do not open!
  2. Place can in a medium sized pot.
  3. Fill water to cover can by at least one inch.
  4. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 2 hours.
  5. Using tongs, remove can from pot onto a cooling rack.
  6. Cool for at least 30 minutes until lukewarm before opening can.
  7. Use as cake filling or ice cream topping.


About Terese

6 Responses to “Dulce de Leche: Easy, Delicious Caramel Cake Filling Recipe”

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  1. Kris says:

    Omggggg, I’m gonna have to try this out! I got hooked to hapå after visiting my family in Oslo few years ago. I went back to the US with six jars and I think it lasted 2 months only haha. They’re not the biggest jars. I just stumbled on your blog tonight but where do you live now?

    • Terese says:

      Yes, try it, you won’t regret it! It is so easy and very cheap, and it tastes just like it! I couldn’t believe it when I tasted it without even knowing in advance that that’s what I had made. 🙂 I live in the midwest of the United States now, with husband and kids. But I continue to make a lot of Norwegian foods and discovering how I can recreate some of the foods that I used to purchase at the store in Norway that I’ve been missing here. You should also look at some of my other Norwegian recipes such as Pannekaker or Risgrøt. 😉

  2. Judy Young says:

    Hi I was looking for a simple carmel cake recipe to make a birthday cake for myself, I’ve several and notice your article and recipe about Hoppa well I’m African American and have made cakes in the past sometimes changing one or two ingredients depending on the desired outcome of the cake. What I found from your article and recipe is that I actually used this same recipe years ago then it was only called carmel frosting I know most frosting includes the use of powered sugar but when I first use this method I did what you had done and boiled the condensed milk for four hours given the Hoppa a richer flavor and color. So Im glad to find out that you’re recipe is from Norway and I thank you for this great history lesson its nice to know we’re not that far apart. Thank you,
    Judy Young

    • Terese says:

      How interesting! And you know, not too long ago I found cans in the international section at the store with a label on them that said “Dulce de Leche”, a Mexican food product. I was curious so I purchased one to check, and I found that it’s the same thing!! So apparently it is a product found / made in various countries, I just never knew! Thank you for leaving me a comment, it is very much appreciated! It was nice to hear from you!

  3. Judy Young says:

    Hi again I have a correction on the spelling of hoppa its correct spelling is hapa sorry for the mistake.
    Judy Young

    • Terese says:

      Oh, no worries at all! 🙂 Like I said, in Mexico it is apparently called Dulce de Leche, so I’m sure there are other names for it as well. 😉

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