The first time I sold a jar of cajeta I had the kind of cultural disconnect I hadn’t experienced in some time. The customer, after sampling every one of the products I had made and had for sale at the farmers market, discussing their history within Mexican cuisine and their exact ingredients, asked a very simple question:

What do you do with it?

What do you mean, what do you do with cajeta? You eat it with a spoon! I’m sure there are an endless number of possible uses for a goat milk caramel with the thick chewy consistency of peanut butter, but really, there is no single better way than to simply use a spoon.

Everything about making cajeta depends on the quality of the goat milk used. Ideally, it would be made with raw goat milk, but getting a hold of it can be difficult. It should be easier to find a gently pasteurized non-homogenized milk, which yields a higher volume of spoon-ready cajeta.

Traditionally, cajeta is made with goat milk, but if it is not readily available, there is nothing wrong with substituting a high quality cow milk. The authenticity police does not need to know what you do in the privacy of your kitchen.

The second most important factor in making cajeta is vigilance. A pot of milk set to boil and caramelizing sugar cannot be trusted and will turn on you faster than an ungrateful spoiled house cat. I speak from experience. You cannot update your Facebook status while you wait, get that package the UPS guy left at the door, go fold the laundry, or grab a quick snack. You will wait in front of that pot until the milk is at a steady and dependable simmer. You will not blink once the sugar has turned into liquid amber until milk has been added.

And you will not forget to stir.


Cajeta - Goat Milk Caramel

  • 1/2 gallon goat milk
  • 300 g (1 1/2 c) + 100 g (1/2 c) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Note: Be sure to use stainless steel or copper pots for this recipe, as aluminum will stain the milk during the process.

Using a stainless steel stock pot, preferable 4 to 6 quarts in size, bring the goat milk to a steady medium simmer. Remove 1/2 cup of the warm milk, and whisk in the corn starch and baking soda until completely dissolved. Stir back into the pot, along with 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) of granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Whisk until dissolved.

Place the remaining 100 grams (1/2 c) granulated sugar in a 2 quart stainless steel pot. Cook over medium heat until dissolved into a rich dark amber caramel. Remove the pot from the burner and very carefully laddle one cup of the sweet warm milk over the caramel, stirring as you do so. Once the bubbling has subsided add more warm milk, and return to a low heat. Cook, while stirring, until all the caramel has been dissolved into the milk. Pour the caramel milk back into the stock pot.

Continue to cook the milk at a steady medium simmer, stirring occasionally. As the milk reduces, it will be necessary to lower the cooking temperature to maintain the same rate of simmer. Allow the milk to reduce slowly. Continue to stir regularly, to prevent scorching and thickening of the milk against the walls of the stock pot.

The cajeta should reduce to between 1/4 to 1/3 of the original volume, depending on the quality of the milk used. When ready, the cajeta will stick well to a clean metal spoon with minimal drip.

Carefully pour the cajeta into sterilized 4 or 8 ounce canning jars while still hot and seal. Keep for up to 6 months, unopened, and 1 month, refrigerated, after opening.

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