Cajeta

Cajeta Recipe

Cajeta is a caramel made by slowly cooking and caramelizing sweetened goat or cow milk. It’s a common confection in Central and South America, especially popular in Mexico, and it is truly delicious drizzled atop melted ice cream. The most important ingredient in this cajeta recipe is patience! Do not rush this one, or your cajeta will foam over and you will have a sticky mess on your stovetop.–Molly Moon Neitzel

LC Got Goat Milk? Note

Got goat milk? If not, no worries. Traditionally cajeta is made with goat milk, although we also tried making it with cow milk and we have to concede, it was darn good. Uh, just don’t try this with soy milk. Or almond milk. Or the like. Trust us.

Special Equipment: candy thermometer

Cajeta Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (2 pints) goat or cow milk
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch kosher salt

Directions

  • 1. Place all the ingredients in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and whisk over medium heat to dissolve the sugar and honey. Carefully bring to a boil, keeping an eye on the pan so the milk doesn’t overflow, and then reduce the heat to as low as possible. Keep the cajeta at a very gentle simmer until the color changes to a dark brown and the mixture is syrupy and luscious and it reaches 225°F (107°C) on a candy thermometer. This will take place at some point between 60 and 120 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and the specific heat of your burner. Keep an eye on the mixture throughout, as it can easily boil over if left unattended, but stir it infrequently, as it tends to foam the more it is stirred. You may need to occasionally remove the pan from the heat to prevent the cajeta mixture from foaming over the sides of the pan.
  • 2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. The cajeta will thicken as it cools. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Cajeta can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Sep 11, 2013

This caramel is FABULOUS! Milk, sugar, salt, and heat…BRILLIANT! I was unable to locate goat milk so I substituted organic whole cow’s milk. I simmered it for about an hour, but it seems that the heat was not high enough, as it didn’t thicken properly. Have no fear, I simply put it back in the pot. When the recipe says to simmer on low, make certain that the entire surface is bubbling, not just a few areas. I must also note that when the caramel has cooked down enough, there will be but a few ounces more than enough to fill an average-size Ball canning jar.

Testers Choice
M.K. Morgan

Sep 11, 2013

This is a good sauce to know how to make that takes a slightly different caramel flavor from the goat milk. It did make exactly 2 1/2 cups, but took a lot longer for me to get the temperature up to 225°F. Maybe I started it too slowly. But even with pricey goat milk, this is more economical than purchasing the finished product at the store. I think next time I may add some vanilla or a little expresso powder for a deeper flavor–not much, just a hint.

Testers Choice
Renee H.

Sep 11, 2013

This was a tricky recipe. Maybe tricky is not the right word. SCARY!
My milk of choice was cow milk, but only because that’s what I had in my fridge. I am rather thankful that the recipe mentioned that it’s necessary to keep a watchful eye over the cajeta. It nearly boiled over on me several times, even while on my stove’s lowest setting. Whenever it would get extremely frothy and appeared to be getting ready to boil over, I’d lift the pot off the heat for a second, which would calm things down immediately. I’m not sure if it was all this lifting that stretched my cook time to a whopping 90 minutes, but that’s how long it took to reach (what I believe) was the desired color (dark amber) and texture (almost taffy-like). Even though I did use a thermometer, my cajeta never reached the appropriate temperature of 225°F. I think it might have burned had I kept it on any longer. Nonetheless, I’ve been enjoying this stuff straight off the spoon, on the moon, in any room, and I’ll probably need to make more SOON!

Testers Choice
Lori Widmeyer

Sep 11, 2013

I should start by saying I don’t own a candy thermometer—I started to use my meat thermometer but ended up just watching it closely. I used fresh-from-the-goat, still-warm milk a friend was nice enough to give to me. I tried to watch closely for the color change, but kept wondering if it should be a little darker—she says let it reach a dark brown, so I ended up cooking mine a little over an hour. I had to stir somewhat frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When it had only cooled partway, we tried some on ice cream, and it had a wonderful, rich caramel flavor with a little more tang than dulce de leche. After cooling, the cajeta was so thick it was spreadable (maybe from cooking longer?). I kept catching my husband and sons sticking a spoon in it to eat directly to eat or dipping a Biscoff cookie in it. It was even good on toast. I don’t have access to goat milk often, but when I do, I will make this again.

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Sep 11, 2013

This tastes good. You can really taste the honey. You really do need to keep an eye on it because it threatened to boil over several times. The advantage of the candy thermometer is that you can hook it to the side of the pot, but you can use a regular cooking thermometer. It really does become solid after it cools. This was easy to make, with ingredients that are generally on hand, and it tasted quite good.

Testers Choice
Suzanne Fortier

Sep 11, 2013

I expected the cajeta to be a thick caramel sauce, but it's really quite syrupy. The long cooking—mine took 2 hours to reach 225°—helps develop a rich, complex flavor. The recipe is straightforward, but you do have to watch it, as I had to keep adjusting my gas burner to be sure the milk was simmering but not boiling over. Even after 2 hours, it was still on the thin side—about the thickness of heavy cream—while warm, but after being chilled it thickened up a bit. I added a tablespoon or two to my morning soy latte, which was quite lovely. I also served it drizzled over Mocha Brownies and it was so rich and delicious. I would also like to try it with fresh strawberries or with plain pound cake or with triple-creme goat cheese. But it really doesn't need anything else. Just hand me a spoon and I'm happy.

Comments
Comments
  1. chowyunfood says:

    What a WONDERFUL recipe…

  2. Mary says:

    Can this be made without honey? One of the posters said you can really taste the honey, and honey is one of the few foods I dislike. How much more sugar would I need to add if I made it without honey? Or maybe I could add corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead of honey?
    Thanks.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Mary, we only tested the recipe with honey but I’d be inclined to use Golden Syrup if you wanted a substitute. Let us know how it turns out, we’re awfully curious!

    • mercedes alejandra pousa says:

      Legend has it that dulce de leche was invented in Argentina. I am Argentinian and I have been making dulce de leche all my life (53yrs) and in my experience::
      . stir, stir and stir with a wooden spoon
      . the amount of sodium bicarbonate makes the colour become darker. it also affects the taste. a quarter of a teaspoon per litre of milk will be enough. colour and density are also determined by the cooking time, since you concentrate the solids in the milk
      . you don’t need the honey at all
      . better if you add good quality vanilla (natural or extract)
      . if bottled correctly, it lasts 6 or more months in your fridge (that is, if you live alone!)

      • Beth Price says:

        Hi Mercedes, thank you so much for chiming in with your experiences in making dulce de leche, or cajeta. We love to hear from our readers with their words of wisdom.

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