Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cajeta

I love goat cheese, The Chef drinks goat’s milk; the next logical step would be to make cajeta, a Mexican dessert sauce and spread that is essentially dulce de leche’s goaty cousin. I don’t think it too outrageous to say that cajeta is perhaps more delicious, and more complex, than the much-loved dulce de leche. The goat’s milk adds a subtle tang and mystery to the goodness which is quite divine.

Before I delved into making my first batch of cajeta, I read up on it in several different cookbooks, but ultimately went with Rick Bayless’ method, varying the ingredients a wee bit based on other recipes I came across. A number of them said that cajeta can be made with one part goat’s milk and one part cow’s milk but I figured, if we’re going goat then let’s go for the goat gusto.

To make about 3 cups of cajeta:
  • 2 quarts of goat’s milk
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of warm water

In a heavy pot, such as a Le Crueset, combine all the ingredients except the baking soda over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves and is just at a simmer. Take the pot off the heat and add the baking soda. It will get quite foamy and rise up like a chemistry experiment gone awry but stir away and it will settle down.

Return the pot over medium high heat and stir constantly. If it foams up and seems like it might overflow, turn the heat down a bit. I found that the cajeta would foam up in fits and starts which means I had to camp out next to the stove, fiddling with the heat and stirring almost the entire time. The mixture needs to boil in order to reduce and caramelize so keep it at a fairly high heat while it does its thing, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t scorch.

After an hour of the mixture boiling away, it should take on a lovely butterscotch tone and the bubbles on the surface will get larger. Keep a small saucer in the freezer and from time to time, spoon a few drops of the cajeta onto the cold plate to get a general sense of the consistency. The end result can be more of a pouring caramel to dip churros in, or, reduced even further, it can be a spread for cookies and cakes. Boil away and test until it is the desired consistency.

When ready, pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl and set aside to cool. The cajeta will keep, refrigerated, for a month.

Adapted from a recipe in Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless

1 comment:

Jacqui said...

Wow! This looks dangerously delicious. I also loved your last post. These omeletes are one of my faves. I do enjoy your blog. I had my first vegetable patch last year and was so excited by the success can't waut until it's time to start planting again.