The forecast is for sunny and 72 degrees, and I have a refrigerator full of milk. Sounds like the recipe for making some Cajeta (Cah-hay-ta)
What is Cajeta, you ask? Only the most delicious caramel sauce you ever had. Not only can it be a sauce, but you can cook it down to a candy. Ooooo. Yum. You may have also heard it labeled, Dulche De Leche (Dool-say day LAY-chay). You probaby figured out from the sounds of things, this caramel is a South-of-the-Border invention. As a matter of fact, according to wikipedia,
In September, 2010, cajeta was declared the Bicentennial Dessert of Mexico, honouring 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, with the famous Grito de Dolores by father Miguel Hidalgo.
You make this sweet stuff, and you’re making history, baby.
My friend, Julie, who buys a jar of cajeta every week from me, uses it as a coffee creamer. “Not even the coffee shops compare to the flavor,” she says. She’s even poured it over an apple coffee cake. Yum. The uses of this creamy concoction of loveliness are endless. Think crepes, ice cream, pound cake, fruit dipped, over baked apples, sandwiched between 2 cookies, over Greek yogurt, or over sauteed bananas and ice cream. Mmmm. Yes, I’m feeling a bit hungry. How about you?
Well, let’s get started. There’s only 5 ingredients to gather.
Start with your milk. In Mexico, many times they combine goat and cow milk. For me, I use raw goat’s milk. Isn’t it purty? Especially since you know I hand milked that myself. Ah.
Pour into sauce pan. Add 2 cups sugar. Note: The time on my clock is currently 9:52 AM.
Set your burner on medium high.
Stir until the sugar melts.
We’re now waiting for a foam to arrive. Like this.
Once we have foam, we must prepare our baking soda mixture. Here’s your tools. Baking Soda. Cute ramekin.
Measure 1/2 tsp (not to be confused with a tablespoon…please DON’T get confused…it will cost you a VERY messy stovetop) Baking Soda.
Pour into your cute lil’ bowl. Add your 2 Tablespoons water. Mix until the two sort of combine.
Now, this is EXTREMELY important, take your pan off the burner for this next step. You’ll be tempted to leave it there, I know. You’ll think, ‘Ah, I’ll just turn the heat down to low.’ Don’t do it. You’ll be sorrrryyyyy.
After removing your pan from the burner, pour in the baking soda mixture. Okay, I realize I’m holding your hand a bit too much. I have control issues.
Your warm milk will then begin to rise into foamation (I couldn’t resist). Anyway, it will foam more. Stir the foam. Be one with the foam. Sorry.
Once the foam mostly subsides, you are free to move about the cabin, I mean, you are free to move your pan back to the burner. See, it’s okay. Your pan wasn’t gone long.
And now this is when your confection will fill the house with a glorious caramel aroma. Children will suddenly appear in the kitchen asking profound questions like, “Whatch’ya makin’?”
Add the delicious vanilla. This picture is a bit deceiving as far as the color of your warmed milk. It won’t be quite so caramelly colored just yet.
Note the time. We started at 9:52. We are now into this 32 minutes. I thought you’d like to know.
Stir your pure yumminess every 10 minutes or so. That’s right. You don’t have to babysit until it thickens. That’s when you don’t want to turn your back on it. It will threaten to take over the kitchen.
You will get hints this thickening is beginning when it starts turning its wonderful shade of caramel. It will start turning brown. Like in this picture.
Oh, see. Don’t turn your back now. Keep your trigger finger ready to turn back that medium high heat to low.
See it happens fast. Don’t leave the kitchen. And for heaven’s sake, you can empty the dishwasher later. I’m serious. Now is when you start stirring every 5 minutes.
Notice the level of the milk now. That’s e-vap-or-ation. Hey, this is science. Bring the kids in. Teach them something. You’ll feel so accomplished.
Okay, now you’re getting close. When it gets to this state it will tend to want to overboil. You’ll have to act fast, people. With trigger finger (okay, hand), you’ll want to QUICKLY turn the heat down to low or even off. When the foaming descends (I know, such a fancy word), turn it back to medium high. Don’t be fooled though. It will try this tactic of kitchen take over again. Be on your guard and keep your trigger-hand ready.
Oooo. I think it’s ready. Spoon some up and then let it drip back into the pan. As the drips begin to cool, you’ll see how thick the sauce is. I read you can drop the sauce into a glass of cool water and see if a soft ball forms. I could never tell what a soft ball looked like, so I do the spoon method.
And there you have it. Pour your creation into cute little jars and allow them to cool. Then lick the spoon and pan. I mean, then admire your efforts. After cooling, you can eat immediately, store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or freeze. If you happen to leave it in your refrigerator for longer than 2 weeks, it’s probably not bad, it’s just that the sugar recrystalizes. It gets clumpy. So, you might one jar now and then put the rest in the freezer.
By the way, I forgot to check the clock at this point, but it usually takes 1 1/2 hours to make, depending on your desired thickness. My friend, Julie likes hers pourable, but if you like yours super thick, you’re probably looking at 2 hours cooking time.
Let me know if you make some. I’d LOVE to hear your comments. Did I ever mention how much I love getting comments? Ah, you’re the best.