Cajeta de Leche
Known in other parts of Latin America as "dulce de leche," this rich carmel sauce is great on ice cream, drizzled over fruit, or on top of our Mucho Mango Tart.
1/4 cup water (warm or cold is ok, but not hot!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups goat's milk (you can use cow's milk if you can't find goat's milk; it will still work but have a less traditional taste)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Stir the baking soda into the water and set aside.
2. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pan such as enameled cast iron, or whatever your heaviest pan is. A pan that is too thin can heat unevenly and burn the Cajeta.
3. Stir in the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. As it begins to boil, the milk will bubble up and significantly increase in volume, so stay close and keep an eye on it.
4. Turn the heat to medium. Pick up the cup with water and baking soda in it, and carefully pour only the water into the goat's milk mixture in a thin stream, leaving all the baking soda behind in the cup! Stir the water into the goat's milk mixture. Be careful - the mixture will foam up even more when you do this! If it threatens to boil over, turn the heat down a bit until the bubbles subside. Keep stirring until the bubbles have died down, then return the heat to medium.
5. Continue cooking the mixture over medium heat for 50-60 minutes. For the first 20-30 minutes, you can stir every few minutes. At this point, you will notice the milk is beginning to turn a slightly nutty brown color, and you will need to stir the mixture a bit more frequently from here on.
6. As time passes, the Cajeta mixture will get progressively darker brown. As it browns, you will need to stir it more often, until by the end of cooking you will be stirring it constantly to be sure it doesn't burn.
7. As you near the end of cooking, the Cajeta will be quite thick and will "coat the back of a spoon," which means that if you were to run your finger across the back of a spoon, the line would remain and the Cajeta would not run together. Turn the heat to medium low and continue to mix and stir. When it's finished, it will no longer appear creamy, but will have a slick, rich caramel color and appearance.
8. Turn off the heat and carefully (it's hot!) use a rubber spatula to scoop all of the Cajeta into a bowl to cool. Stir in the vanilla extract as it cools.
9. Your Cajeta is ready! It can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. It will be firmer when cold, and in Mexico it is sometimes used as a spread on cookies. If you want to drizzle it over something (like ice cream or Mucho Mango Tart), you can warm it in the microwave for a short time (about 15 seconds at a time until hot).
This recipe was adapted from the one found in Mexico, The Beautiful Cookbook by Susanna Palazuelos.