Simple, Delicious, Carmel Cake Filling. Or, for Norwegians -Hapå!!

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 a year or two back; 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 was exactly like Hapå, both with regard to flavor, texture and color. It never would have occurred to me that you could use this product as cake filling, but why not! It is smooth, sweet, tastes a bit like caramel, the color is a glossy and pretty, light brown, and it is very easy to prepare. It will take 2 hours of your time, but you mostly leave it alone for that while. So if you are going to be at home anyway, it couldn’t be more simple. In addition, there is hardly any mess or clean-up to take care of. This stuff seems to keep very well also. I have had it in my refrigerator for weeks at a time, and it has still been good. It seems to crystallize after a while, but it doesn’t seem to actually go bad very easily if refrigerated. At room temperature, I really don’t know, but being that it contains so much sugar, in addition to being ultra pasteurized (it’s condensed, remember?) I would think that it would last much longer than fresh dairy products. I do still recommend refrigeration, just to be on the safe side.

If you are a Norwegian living in the U.S., you can, in other words, make your own Hapå. If you live in Norway or any other country outside of North America, I don’t know whether you can get a hold of the one ingredient needed in addition to water. But if you know, or would be willing to check at your local supermarket to figure this out, I would love to hear from you if you find it, so I can inform others who may want to give this a try.

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 in liquid form, 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, 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 water to cover it 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. I’m not sure how long it is supposed to last, but I’ve had it in my refrigerator for several weeks before, and it has kept just fine for me.

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! What a delight! 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!!

Simple, Delicious, Carmel Cake Filling. Or, for Norwegians -Hapå!!
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

2 Responses to “Simple, Delicious, Carmel Cake Filling. Or, for Norwegians -Hapå!!”

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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. 😉

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