Cajeta goat milk caramel adds a bit of exotic excitement to all the things you’d usually do with caramel…Poured over ice cream, drizzled onto pound cakes, spread onto shortbread cookies, but is also fantastic for flavoring buttercream frosting (add up to 1/4 cup to a batch of your favorite buttercream), drizzling over waffles, spreading onto fruit, etc. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ways to use it, once you have a jar of it in your house. My recipe is infused with coffee beans and the result is rich hints of coffee flavor, creamy and sweet. It’s so easy and fun to make I wanted to share it with you.
The precursor to Dulce Leche Caramel, Mexican Cajeta is made by simmering goats milk, stirring frequently, until it becomes very viscous due to evaporation of water, and caramelized. While goat milk is the most usual base, any kinds of milk may be used. Because of it’s hours of cooking time it can be infused with other ingredients like, cinnamon, coffee, peppers, vanilla and herbs.
In September, 2010, Cajeta was declared the Bicentennial Dessert of Mexico, honoring its history, tradition and origin. Cajeta was born in the city of Celaya, Guanajuato, the state where the Independence of Mexico started back in 1810, it was an extremely important staple during the Mexican Independence war, as it was easily stored and transported, and lasted for several months without decomposing, thus becoming an important food complement for the poorly fed troops.
My friends at Beekman 1802 introduced me to making it a year or so ago and it’s my very favorite guilty pleasure! Cajeta is a great thing to make while you’re doing other things in the kitchen, since it requires fairly frequent attention for upwards of 90 minutes. You don’t need to be working with it that entire time, but you want to be able to check in on it and give it a stir fairly often. In the last 15-25 minutes of the cooking process, it will need your almost-undivided attention as you stir constantly and bring it to the desired consistency without it scorching on the bottom of the pan.
Large portions of this recipe and instructions were taken from the Beekman 1802.com website if you just want to buy their Plain or Habenero Cajeta it’s ready made from them, they also have many wonderful recipes with Cajeta on their site.
What you need:
2 quarts goat milk
2 Cup sugar
2 Vanilla beans or 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Paste
2 Teaspoons whole coffee beans
1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda
First bring the milk and coffee beans to a boil in a very heavy large saucepan.
Reduce to a low simmer and add the sugar now, be careful you don’t want it to burn, then stir to dissolve.
Split two vanilla beans down the center, and drop the four halves into the hot milk and sugar or just stir in the vanilla paste, you will want to use vanilla paste if you can’t find beans because the paste gives you the full flavor of beans that extract can’t give you.
Once the mixture is simmering nicely, dissolve the baking soda into a small amount of cool water. Add that to the Cajeta. It will begin to foam up high but don’t freak out it will go down. Keep stirring it in for about a full minute. If it seems like it might foam up over the edge, quickly turn off the heat for a moment.
Beekman 1802 is right, there’s not much to do for the next couple of hours except be certain that the mixture is over a low enough heat so that the milk doesn’t boil or burn. Also, stir it every fifteen minutes or so to be certain nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
You’ll see the color go from white to beige…to brown…
At caramel brown spoon out the coffee beans and discard, I munched on them… Add your candy thermometer and stir you may have to turn the heat up a notch and watch the temperature.
As the Cajeta cooks, it will, of course, also thicken. As it reduces, it becomes important to stir even more frequently. Towards the end, one should be stirring every few minutes.
We’re aiming for a “soft ball stage,” (240 degrees F) which means that if you drip one drop into a glass of cool water, it will coagulate into a ball, but is still malleable.
Don’t worry if you cook it a little too long and it seems too thick once cooled. Simply gently reheat and add back in a little more water or milk until it reaches a pourable consistency.
Once it’s cooled, strain the caramel through a mesh strainer into a jar and keep refrigerated. If you want to can it for gifts use a pressure canner and keep in a cool, dark, dry place.
Amy Wexler ~