A few weeks ago somebody asked Rick Bayless via Twitter what to do with goat's milk. He excitedly replied "CAJETA!!!" Curious, I first googled to find out cajeta is like a dulce de leche. A sweetened milk (usually goat) cooked down until it becomes a thick, syrupy treat with caramel undertones. I flipped to the index of my Authentic Mexican cookbook to see if cajeta was in there. I was in luck!
I've mentioned a few times that we get our eggs fresh every week from Johnny's mom who has a lot of hens and a few roosters. She also has 3 goats for milk, which Johnny's little brother prefers over cow's milk. I asked during our Sunday visit if she had some to spare and she happily handed over a quart-sized (4 cup) jar. If you are unable to find goat milk in your store you can use cow's milk, the end result will just taste different.
1 quart (4 cups) goat milk
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1/2" cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp grain alcohol (or sherry, rum, or brandy)
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Dissolve the baking soda and water together. Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda mixture. It will bubble up, use a spoon to stir it down.
Return the pan to the heat and adjust the heat so the liquid simmers in a steady roll. It took me a little bit of playing, but it eventually landing a hair above medium-high. Stir regularly as the mixture reduces. The bubbles will begin to change from small, quick-bursting to larger and glassier in 25-40 minutes. This took me about 30-35 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir frequently, washing the spoon each time until the mixture thickens into a caramel-brown syrup that is a little thinner than corn syrup. I read when you drag the spoon in the pan and the mixture is thick enough to part so that you can see the bottom of the pan, it is done.
Strain the cajeta through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or sterilized jar. Let cool a few minutes and stir in the alcohol (I used brandy). Cool completely and then store in the refrigerator, it will keep for months. Yields about 1 1/2 cups. Overall it took about an hour, so make sure you have the time to devote before you start!
This is really yummy and sweet, so hard to believe it derived from milk! Rick suggests eating on wafer cookies, swirled into ice cream, drizzled warm over ice cream like hot fudge, or in crepes with toasted nuts. Guess which one we tried first?
Ice cream of course! Vanilla ice cream, sliced bananas, walnuts, and a drizzle of warmed cojeta. Johnny said it made it taste almost like a creamy flan! Absolutely delicious!
Ok, now for the reveal of my "Creative Writer" award lies from a few posts ago.
1. I don't know how to swim.
False - of course I know how to swim! Growing up on an island where the widest part is 1 mile wide I spent more time in water than dry land! I took swimming lessons for many years, but never was able to pass my junior lifeguard test due to the elusive butterfly, which I've never mastered.
2. I skipped 2nd grade.
False - but I did start kindergarten early. I was 4 turning 5 while all my classmates were 5 turning 6, so throughout school I was always the youngest in my grade.
3. I played the clarinet in middle school band.
False - I played the flute!
4. I type 40 words per minute.
False - I actually type 90 words per minute!
5. I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY.
True - I was born and lived in New York until I was 4, when we moved to the Outer Banks, NC. A lot of my family is still in New York, so we've visited often my whole life.
6. My bellybutton is pierced.
False - perhaps it's a "beach thing" but I went to school with popular girls who got their bellybuttons pierced as early as 13 years old. I've always associated bellybutton piercings with being like them so I never got mine pierced, only ears!
7. I wear a size 6 shoe.
False - I wear a size 8.