Monday, June 06, 2011
I married an Argentine. While I call this cajeta, he asks me to call it dulce de leche. When I think of dulce de leche, I think of cow milk, but E says no, this caramelly goat milk confection is dulce de leche. Whatever it is, make it. Then spread it on a banana or on toast, or drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or pound cake, or fill an alfajore with it.
Here is my abbreviated story for the day: I have friends with goats. Goats are good.
Dulce de Leche de Chiva (or what other people call Cajeta)
You will need:
2 quarts fresh goat milk
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (that is not an error, yes, use a tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon dark rum
To make the sweet caramelly stuff:
Pour the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a very large pot and bring the mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat as soon as the mixture boils and stir to dissolve the sugar into the milk. Stir in the baking soda dissolved in water. The milk will bubble up, but stir it back down.
Return the pot to the heat and turn the heat on low. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook it for what seems like forever. Be careful and don't forget you've got the darned stuff on the stove, but if you're like me, you're going to have to multitask. I cannot sit in the kitchen and watch something boil for hours without losing my mind. Luckily, early in this process the mixture is quite liquid and won't likely stick to the pan. It is only as the cajeta cooks down that distraction becomes a liability.
After an hour or two, depending on how hot you are running your stove, the mixture will begin to thicken noticeably. Stir frequently now, making sure that the sugars don't burn on the bottom of the pan. The mixture will thicken and bubble in that thick way that tells you that a sugar mixture is approaching softball stage.
Carefully pour in the dark rum and immediately stir to combine it well with the rest of the mixture. Once the cajeta reaches softball consistency (when the hot mixture slowly drips off a spoon), remove the pot from the stove.
Place a strainer over a large-mouthed jar (or a strainer over a large-mouthed funnel over a large-mouthed jar) and strain the mixture into the jar. It will slip quickly through the strainer at first, but much slower as it cools and as crystals collect in the holes of the strainer.
Once you've strained the mixture, just try not to lick the strainer clean. Place a clean lid on your jar of goodness and keep it in the refrigerator. This recipe makes just over a pint. It should last for a month or so if you can keep from eating it. Here, it never lasts that long.
(Apparently, I've written about cajeta once before. Argh! The version above is an evolved version of the older recipe; it is how I make it now, with more experience. In other words, the recipe above is mine, not from another source.)