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How to Make Dulce de Leche (Cow Milk) or Cajeta (Goat Milk) Caramel

How to Make Dulce de Leche or Cajeta (Goat Milk) Caramel

by Barbara Kiebel on January 30, 2013

If you recall, I recently tried my hand at making goat cheese. I loved it but with almost 5 gallons of goat milk remaining in the freezer, I had a burning desire to make something else…and it didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to turn to Cajeta. Dulce de Leche (milk candy) is a Mexican confection that is a combination of milk and sugar cooked at low heat for a long time until the milk has evaporated considerably and caramelized and the result is a thick, golden caramel sauce. Cajeta is the same thing with the exception that instead of cow’s milk, goat milk is combined with sugar.

goat-milk-caramel-cajeta-ingredients

The name for cajeta comes from the Spanish phrase al punto de cajeta, which means a liquid thickened to the point at which a spoon drawn through the liquid reveals the bottom of the pot in which it is being cooked. Getting milk to pass that test requires some time and patience but is still really simple. Many consider a recipe for dulce de leche to consist of immersing a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pan of water that is heated for a period until the contents caramelize. I would just buy a container of dulce de leche before bothering with that effort…making it yourself from scratch brings both the best rewards and the best flavor.

I made mine with Zulka Cane Sugar from Mexico (seemed appropriate for cajeta right?) but I love this sugar for so many things…especially my morning coffee; it’s a small but for me significant change and I’m certain it was the perfect choice for this homemade cajeta. The basic recipe is simply cornstarch, baking soda, milk and sugar but I decided to add some of my favorite seasoning (cinnamon, vanilla and rum) and the end result was perfectly wonderful. If you’ve yet to discover vanilla bean paste; now is the time. I love this stuff and when the folks at Nielsen-Massey sent me some vanilla products to sample, I started using the vanilla bean paste in a lot of holiday treats and I admit; I’m totally hooked. It’s vanilla beans in a thick liquid; no need to split and scrape beans for me anymore!

goat-milk-caramel-cajeta-empanadas

When my daughter mentioned to a co-worker of Mexican descent that I was making cajeta, she shared a recipe that she loved for Empanadas de Cajeta – basically circles of pie dough filled with cajeta that are folded, crimped and baked and result in an amazing treat. I so wanted to make these as I can imagine the inclusion of some cream cheese in that dough is fantastic but I also want to clear out my fridge and freezer in anticipation of moving, so I decided to do what I call a ‘Sandra Lee.’ I used frozen pie dough rounds for my empanadas that were filled with my homemade cajeta.

dulce-de-leche-sundae

Talk about a sweet treat; they were lovely. But I’ll tell you that for me the sublime is simply some vanilla ice cream with a bit of cajeta and maybe some toasted nuts to garnish. By the way, I save all of my ‘scrap’ nuts when I chop nuts for a recipe and combine them in a Ziploc bag. When I have enough, I add a bit of salt and roast them for ice cream topping; so delish! I could eat this every night. Well, maybe could isn’t the word…thinking ‘have’ might be more appropriate. The method for making Dulce de Leche or Cajeta is the same; just depends on whether you use cow milk or goat milk but either one? Simply divine…and wait until you see the cocktail I’ve made for Valentines Day that I’ll post next Friday. It is amazing…but how could it not with this homemade ‘milk candy?’

Dulce de Leche or Cajeta (Goat Milk) Caramel
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 3 quarts goat milk or cow milk or a combination of both
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla)
  • ¼ cup rum (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dissolve cornstarch and baking soda in 1 cup of the milk in a large pot; stirring to dissolve lumps.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down heat to low and cook until mixture is the consistency of caramel sauce; stirring with regularity;approximately 50-60 minutes. (I did not stand over a pot for hours when I cooked triple this recipe but I did make a point to stir it about every 15 minutes).
  4. Pour into container(s); will keep in fridge for several weeks.
Notes
Be careful to not let the mixture get too hot; it will both boil over and will start to burn on the bottom of the pot. Low and slow is the way to go!!

 



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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Thanks for this recipe – will be trying it tomorrow. Any idea how taste is affected if I use regular white sugar? Or demara brown sugar?

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2 Creative Culinary August 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

One you are suggesting has less molasses and one probably a bit more so there might be a slight flavor difference but not all that significant.

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3 vianney March 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I adore cajeta and homemade is the way to go! Thanks for the shout out, over ice cream~Swoon!

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4 sweetsugarbelle February 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

WONDERFUL STUFF!

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5 Creative Culinary February 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Why yes it is! How are you? Your cookies are prettier every time I see some!

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6 Residential Culinarian February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Goat Milk, ahh, such delight & soooo hard to find. When you find the goats its too cold and they don’t milk, or its too hot and they don’t milk, and when the milk its reserved for the kids recently born. Goat milk is such a healthy product consumed in 70% of the world’s population as cows are not plentyful around the world. Whole Foods and Fresh Market is the place to go, best of all is any local farm with goat herd. This recipe is absolutely great and can be made using your Crock Pot without having to stir for 2 – 2 1/2 hrs. Leave lid off, pour ingredients into cold crock and cook on high temp. Be adventurous and imaginative, substitute vanilla for any other extract (coconut; maple; etc.)

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7 Creative Culinary February 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm

We get our from a local farmer so it’s not pasteurized and there is a different flavor.I’ll have to try the crockpot method, though for me; it’s as easy as swiping it with a spoon once in awhile…takes a long time on low but also eliminates the worry of burning.

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8 Debbie August 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Thanks for this! Mine comes out quite light in colour. Any way to darken it so it looks more ‘caramel-y’? The consistency is great so I worry if I cook it down more it will get too thick.
Debbie

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9 Creative Culinary August 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm

The longer you cook it the darker it should get; it does take forever but maybe give it a bit longer? If it gets too thick you can always add a bit of water to thin it a bit.

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10 Debbie Nightingale August 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I’ll try longer then – and maybe omit the corn starch as its been pretty thick. Thanks for this!

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11 Creative Culinary August 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Or add a bit less; sometimes it is a bit of trial and error; I’m in Denver so I imagine my cooking time would differ from yours.

12 Kate | Food Babbles February 3, 2013 at 7:53 am

I really truly wish I could find goat milk!!! Your cajeta looks gorgeous! And love those little empanadas too. I bet this tasted so smooth and sweet. I want to reach into that first picture and swipe the side of the jar with my finger. Mmmm!
Kate | Food Babbles Most Recent Post: Red Wine Chocolate Bundt Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream – #Bundtamonth

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13 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

It’s not easy here either Kate; it’s not legal to sell it to consumers so goat farmers do what we’re a part of. We buy into getting shares from the herd, like investors in a way. Try making it with whole cow’s milk…equally good but definitely a different flavor.

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14 Lizzy (Good Things) February 1, 2013 at 8:40 am

Oh my… bookmarking this right now!
Lizzy (Good Things) Most Recent Post: Pasta al pesto (recipe for summertime basil pesto)

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15 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:45 am

Good call Lizzy…it is fantastic no matter the milk source. Mine is almost gone and I’m sad. :(

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16 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective February 1, 2013 at 7:24 am

You my friend, are the hero of the day. This is such a stunning recipe!
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective Most Recent Post: 2013 Annual Sponsors

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17 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thank you Sommer…it’s one of the jars I packaged in my holiday gift boxes and this year it’s the one I heard the most about too – even more than the raspberry liqueur I included!

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18 Carolina January 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I’m from Argentina and we make dulce de leche with cow’s milk. It’s great to use it as a filling for crepes!(panqueques)

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19 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:40 am

I would love that…it was fun to make the cajeta but I’m doing dulce de leche next since cow’s milk is an ordinary ingredients I don’t have to resource from a farmer! Thanks for the great idea too.

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20 orly @yumivore January 31, 2013 at 11:42 am

Spoon please! I could eat the Dulce de Leche straight from the jar.

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21 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:36 am

Shh…don’t tell but I have! :)

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22 Donna January 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Nice! I’ve made dulce de leche before and I agree that it’s pretty great stuff. I like the addition of rum ;-)

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23 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I love dulce de leche and I’ve heard that goat’s milk is the best one for it! :D
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Most Recent Post: The Lure of Nantes, France

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24 john@kitchenriffs January 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Great looking stuff! I’ve had Dulce de Leche, but never Dulce de Cajeta. It’s been years, though, since I had it. And of course now I’m craving it! Looking forward to the cocktail. ;-) Good stuff – thanks.

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25 Abbe@This is How I Cook January 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

This looks soooo good.

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26 Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen January 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Ooh-la-la! Dulce. de Leche. Mmmmmm. Such the seductress! Thick. Golden. Caramel. “al punto de cajeta.” It sounds so romantic! And, so many things to do with her…stir into hot drinks or cocktails, or just to pour over dessert or eat from the spoon. Thank you for this how-to and recipe, B. And, cannot wait until your Valentine’s Cocktail! (Tease: I have two special Valentine’s Cocktails coming soon!) xo P.S. I do the same with leftover nuts from recipes, but toss them in my granola!
Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen Most Recent Post: Buffalo Chicken Chowder w/ Bacon & Cheese Tortellini

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27 Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

Your dulce de leche looks divine!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) Most Recent Post: brownie heart sandwich cookies

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28 Jamie January 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

Ooooh wow! I am still impressed with the whole goat cheese thing, you know. And this is fabulous. Yum. The caramel is splendid and I agree, drizzled over a bit of chocolate ice cream…
Jamie Most Recent Post: LULU ROUGET & THE BIRTHDAY LUNCH

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29 Creative Culinary January 31, 2013 at 10:18 am

You beat me to the punch but I used vanilla bean; I forgot the photo and added it after your comment. One word. Tired. :)

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30 Holly January 30, 2013 at 10:29 am

Can’t say enough about your delicious gifts in jars this Christmas! I wish I had thought of the empanada route but my jar didn’t last long enough to think of many other ways to eat it– on top of vanilla ice cream was perfect and I shared it with some friends for dessert one night. Simply heaven!
Holly Most Recent Post: Raspberry Sherbet

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31 Creative Culinary January 31, 2013 at 10:19 am

I love it that way too…as a matter of fact had a photo I forgot to include! I fixed that…because that is the easiest and most delicious thing EVER!

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32 Paula January 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

This all looks wonderful Barb. The dulce de leche and the empanadas! Couldn’t think of a better way to use up that goats milk. I hope you have a lot of ice cream stashed in your freezer, or at least plan too once you make the move :)
Paula Most Recent Post: My Corny Valentines – #2

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33 Creative Culinary January 31, 2013 at 10:19 am

Actually…right now I’m trying to only eat from my pantry and freezer and not buy much. Not that a move is imminent but it could be. Listing starts tomorrow or Saturday. Here we gooooo!!!!

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34 Tanya January 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

Interesting, Does the goats milk make it taste different than regular caramel?
Tanya Most Recent Post: The Best WordPress Anti-Spam Plugins for 2012-2013

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35 Creative Culinary February 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

It does taste a bit different but very hard to describe; I’m not certain that someone who didn’t know would notice anything but fabulous caramel! :)

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36 Ansh January 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

We just dipped a spoon in the bottle you gave us for Christmas and licked it all to the point that the bottle doesn’t need any washing :))

It is that delicious. Thank you!
Ansh Most Recent Post: Gevulde Speculaas – Daring Baker’s Challenge

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37 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme January 30, 2013 at 8:38 am

Just reading this post has my mouth watering. As if those empanadas weren’t enough, you went and mentioned putting this heavenly concoction over ice cream. Lord help me…I’m not sure I can wait long enough to find some goat milk and make this recipe!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Pinto Bean Cakes with Salsa and Sour Cream

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38 Creative Culinary January 31, 2013 at 10:21 am

Wanna know how tired I am getting ready for a move? I forgot that I had taken a photo of it with ice cream…that’s been corrected and it’s so dang good; you must try it. I love just the dulce de leche when I don’t have any goat milk so that’s an option too.

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