Well, it's not milking season yet, but it will be pretty soon and I still have quite a bit of milk left in the freezer. I need to empty the freezer out to make room for the milk that my three milkers will produce this season, so I decided to make some cajeta.
Tom and I first read about this in an article about some Texans with a Nubian goat dairy farm. It is a Mexican sweet sauce, like caramel or dolce de leche (or so I'd read) and can be used to top all kinds of desserts, or just to eat with a spoon. It can be made with cow's milk, but I'm not sure why anyone would bother since cajeta is a goat milk thing.
It has to cook several hours and has to be watched and stirred diligently, so I waited until I was going to have a full afternoon to devote to it. In one article I read, the dairy that made it, presumably in large quantities, let theirs cook for about eight hours.
But, I wanted to start small, so I started with one quart of milk and it took me three hours from start to finish. I read several recipes and combined their collective knowledge in hopes of keeping it as simple as possible and hoping for a good outcome. It was surprisingly easy. The hardest thing about it was not being tempted to run off and do other things, risking burning the sauce.
The ingredients were:
1 quart goat milk
1 cup brown sugar (you can use white for a lighter sauce)
2 tsp. vanilla extract (not imitation)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in one Tbs. water (or, one recipe suggested cow's milk instead of water. I'm not sure why)
Some recipes called for one cinnamon stick and some for rum, which is probably delicious and I'll likely try one of those the next time.
Bring all ingredients except for dissolved baking soda to a boil. Some recipes said to put all ingredients together in the beginning.
Use a wooden spoon to stir...something about reactions to metal, blah, blah, blah. Just do it even if you don't understand why.
I chose to add the baking soda after the sauce came to a boil.
Take the sauce off the heat and add the baking soda/water and stir like crazy because it really foams up and may bubble over.
After that, just put it back on the stove and simmer over low heat until it's done. The description of doneness was that it will thickly coat the back of a spoon and that while stirring, the spoon will leave a delayed trail and you'll be able to see the bottom of the pan for a second or two. If you like to use a candy thermometer, it's supposed to reach 220.
One quart of milk made exactly one pint jar of cajeta (with a little left in the pan for licking). And, they were right...it is delicious! I'm trying to think of things to put it on without getting too fat.
If you want to make this, see to it that you have plenty of things to do in the kitchen so that you won't be tempted to leave for a few minutes. Although, I was able to dash back and forth putting clothes in the washer/dryer, for the most part, I stayed in the kitchen and stirred. I was able to shred a block of peccorino with my new processor, clean the kitchen, surf the web, and cook dinner. I'd probably have a cleaner kitchen if I made this stuff regularly.