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

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)
Preparation
  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!!

 

Comments

  1. Debbie says

    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?

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

  2. Residential Culinarian says

    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.)

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

    • Debbie says

      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

      • Creative Culinary says

        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.

        • Debbie Nightingale says

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

          • Creative Culinary says

            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.

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!

  3. Carolina says

    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)

    • Creative Culinary says

      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.

  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

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

  6. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!

  7. says

    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

    • Creative Culinary says

      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!!!!

    • Creative Culinary says

      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! :)

    • Creative Culinary says

      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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