Cajeta, sometimes known as cajeta de Celaya, is a delectable Mexican confection that has a rich history within its homeland. Milk-based treats (such as dulce de leche) were popular during the time of cajeta’s emergence, but in the Bajío region of Mexico, cow sightings were few and far between. So, the locals had to get creative with the only milk source that was available: Goats.
Cajeta is a thick, sweet sauce made of caramelized goat milk. It can be eaten on its own, or paired with other desserts. As an extremely versatile food, cajeta is capable of wearing many hats. It can act as a pastry filler, an ice cream topping, a dip for fruit, a hot beverage mix-in, a key component of traditional Mexican candy, and more!
As you read on, you will learn everything you need to know about this lovely indulgence, and hopefully you will be inspired to make some cajeta of your own!
How Do You Make Cajeta?
Cajeta can be made using either goats milk or cow milk, but in order to stay true to Mexican tradition, this recipe will use goats milk.
Here are the ingredients you will need for 10 servings of cajeta. If you have a larger family or group of guests, feel free to double or triple the recipe to your liking.
Homemade Mexican Cajeta
- 1 Large Pot or Saucepan we used a 2 1/2 quart pot
- 1 Mixing Spoon
- 2 Measuring Spoon 1/3 tsp (or 1/4 tsp) & 1 tbsp
- 1 Dry Measuring Cup 1 cup
- 1 Wet Measuring Cup
- 4 cups Goats Milk (Raw or Pasteurized)
- 1/3 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- Combine goat milk and sugar into a large, heavy pot. It is important to have enough room for the cajeta to bubble up within the pot. (We used a 2 1/2 quart pot.)
- Stir and dissolve in the sugar while bringing mixture to a simmer. (Watch the mixture closely if you notice that it starts to foam lower the heat to low setting)
- Mix 1/3 tsp of baking soda with 1 tbsp. of water in a small bowl. (If you don't have 1/3 tsp measuring spoon you can use 1/4 tsp spoon and a pinch.)
- Slowly stir in the baking soda mixture with the milk and sugar. (Be sure to stir it in slowly as the milk will begin to foam and you don't want it foaming out of the pot! If it begins to foam again reduce the heat to low once again to settle it.)
- Let the mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes. Try not to stir so that the mixture can begin its transformation into a caramel sauce. (Although some recipes say to stir, over stirring tends to cause the caramel to crystallize quickly after its finished cooking and by less stirring it should help to avoid that.)
- If you notice that the mixture is foaming at any time give it a few GENTLE stirs and/or reduce the heat to settle it down.
- After about 1 hour you'll start to notice the mixture start to thicken and change in color from white to beige. You'll also begin to start smell hints of caramel. This is where things start to get exciting!
- Stir the mixture gently and let it continue to simmer checking back every 15 minutes now to watch it more closely.
- You'll know its almost done when it thickens even more and begins to boil differently almost like how thick soup folds itself in again and again.
- If you're looking to use the cajeta as an ice cream topping you'll want to remove it a bit sooner before it becomes too thick. This will prevent it from becoming to hard once it cools.But if you happen to cook the cajeta for too long don't worry. It can still be used to flavor your coffee or as a dip for apples or other yummy fruit.
- If you're not sure you can try the cold water test by putting a drop of the cajeta into cold water. If it balls up right away its the right consistency!
- Let cool for about 15-30 minutes and enjoy!
Why Is My Cajeta Grainy?
When making cajeta from scratch, it is not uncommon for the final product to come out grainier than the ideal smooth consistency. This could be a result of the heat being too high or not stirring frequently enough.
How to prevent: Keep an eye on the cajeta as it is cooking. Ensure that it is not at a heat that is causing drastic boiling or burning. Stir attentively.
How to fix: It might help to put your cajeta back in the pot and boil while constantly stirring. As a last ditch effort, you can even pour your cajeta through a fine mesh strainer to weed out the imperfections.
History Of Cajeta
As touched upon earlier in this article, cajeta has an important and surprising history within its origin country of Mexico. The sweet sauce was first created while Mexico was under the rule of the Spanish empire. The now-independent country didn’t even have its own name yet, it was grouped in with other Spanish territories that were collectively referred to as “New Spain.” Cajeta itself inherited its name from the original containers in which it was sold, small jars called “cajetes.” Cajeta de Celaya quickly gained popularity for its convenience and taste. In fact, cajeta is rumored to have been a staple high-calorie treat of Mexican independence soldiers, helping the country to win the Mexican Revolution!
5 Delicious Uses For Cajeta
Truthfully, the sky’s the limit when it comes to possible uses for Cajeta. The number of tasty pairings is only limited by your imagination. However, to help you get started, I’ve put together a list of 5 tried and true classic combinations.
Be original by replacing your basic buttercream icing with a soft caramel center! The smooth sweetness of cajeta combined with the savory richness of a good, fluffy cake makes for an unbeatable pair. Whether you’re a chocolate or vanilla person, you are sure to love it. Both flavors are a unique yet perfect partner to cajeta.
Ice Cream Topper
Add some warm caramel goodness to a scoop of cold ice cream! If you’re a lover of hot fudge, this will be your new favorite ice cream addition. Once again, the cajeta pairs flawlessly with chocolate or vanilla, whatever your flavor preference might be.
Fondue For Fruit
If you or your guests lean on the healthy side when it comes to dessert, fruit is the obvious choice. However, eating the same strawberries and bananas time and time again can get boring. Spice up your fruit bowl with some cajeta! Just like chocolate, the caramelized treat pairs excellently with fruit. No matter what your go-to fondue fruit is, it will most likely work well. I highly recommend apples!
Searching for a fun way to make your morning coffee a little more interesting? Look no further! Cajeta’s smooth paste will melt right into your mug and give your coffee a new, quirky, caramel flavor. Who needs to stand on line at a coffee shop when you can make delicious blends right in the comfort of your own kitchen? Feel free to get even more ambitious and find out how your cajeta tastes in tea or milkshakes!
Classic Mexican Candy
If you’re looking to wholly stay true to Mexican tradition, try cajeta sandwiched between a couple of obleas! Obleas are Latin American wafers that have been popular in Mexico for ages. They are generally accepted to be a superb host on which cajeta can be spread.
How Do You Store Cajeta?
To keep some extra cajeta for later enjoyment, you’ll want to store it in a closed jar. This can be in the form of a container with a detachable lid, or simply sealed with a sheet of plastic wrap. It can last several weeks in a refrigerator and several months in a freezer until it inevitably crystallizes. Reheat cajeta before serving to revitalize its smoothness.
Whether cajeta becomes a staple snack in your household or just a one-time cooking experience, its delicious taste and easy cooking process are guaranteed to dazzle you. I hope this article did justice to the fascinating and historic influence of this multi-talented confection. Be sure to share your cajeta with family and friends – they will undoubtedly be impressed by your worldly dessert-making expertise!