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
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 2 H
- Makes about 2 1/2 cups
- 4 cups (2 pints) goat or cow milk
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch kosher salt
- 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.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cajeta Recipe © 2012 Molly Moon Neitzel. Photo © 2012 Kathryn Barnard. All rights reserved.