Milk caramel, also known as dulce de leche, is made by combining milk and sugar. The mixture is cooked over low heat until it begins to caramelize, deepening in both color and flavor. The process of making milk caramel from scratch can be lengthy and difficult for beginners. Fortunately, you can purchase ready-to-use milk caramel from a specialty food store. Professional bakers and hobbyists alike will love the versatility of this gourmet ingredient. Here are three ways that bakers can incorporate milk caramel into their creations:

1. Create a moist caramel cake.

Cake is the perfect baked good for a celebration, but you can make it any time. Yellow cake is a classic, but you can turn any yellow cake recipe into caramel cake with the addition of milk caramel. Milk caramel can be added into your cake batter in place of milk for a moist, rich cake. While your cake is baking, create a caramel buttercream frosting using creamed butter, milk caramel, and powdered sugar. If you'd prefer single-serving portions, caramel cake recipes can be easily adapted to create cupcakes instead.

2. Enhance ordinary chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic dessert. This baked good is a simple, homey favorite. If you want to make your chocolate chip cookies even more special, milk caramel can be your secret ingredient. To make caramel chocolate chip cookies, create your cookie dough as usual. When it's time to add chocolate chips into the mixture, drizzle some milk caramel in as well. Mix your cookie dough well to incorporate the chocolate and caramel, then scoop tablespoon-sized dollops onto a cookie sheet to bake.

3. Create decadent caramel nut tarts.

Pastry-making is a delicate art. It can be difficult to learn at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can create beautiful pastries that will delight and impress your family and friends. With milk caramel at your disposal, you can easily create decadent caramel nut tarts. To create this treat, begin with a fully baked tart shell. You can create your tart shells from scratch or purchase them from the store. Toast a mixture of your favorite nuts in the oven, and while they're still warm, cover them with milk caramel. Mix your caramel and nuts thoroughly, then pour your mixture into your tart shells. Allow your caramel nut tarts to chill in the refrigerator until they become firm.

If you want to buy milk caramel, contact a specialty food store.