Cajeta in English is basically caramelized goat’s milk similar to “dulce de leche.”
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During Christmas, we usually give our neighbors buñuelos or tamales. This year, I’ve decided to give out this delicious sweet treat. It makes a great holiday gift!
Drizzle it on top of Mexican Flan or ice cream, and get ready to say yum!
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That’s it! This is a very simple recipe, but it requires a whisk and a lot of patience.
Know the Difference
Cajeta vs. Caramel vs. Dulce de Leche
The main difference is in the type of milk that is used.
- Caramel uses cow’s milk.
- Cajeta uses goat’s milk.
- Dulce de leche uses condensed milk.
All three are made in the same way by heating up the milk and stirring for a long time until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes.
- Add the milk, sugar, and vanilla to a stock pot on medium heat.
- Once it begins to simmer, add the baking soda.
You’re going to need to play with the heat as it cooks.
The baking soda will cause the milk mixture to bubble and rise. That’s why you can’t leave the pot alone. You DON’T want it to boil over and go all over the stove.
Once it rises (because it will), change to low heat or turn the heat off completely until it goes back down. Then, turn the heat back on or keep it on low.
Different Types of Cajetas
- Quemada – Translation “burned cajeta.” This version is one of the most popular types. Deep in color and has a mild burned taste.
- Cajeta Envinada – Originally made with wine, but now you’ll see brandy, tequila, rum and other liquor added to the caramel.
- De Vainilla – BINGO! That’s what we are making in this recipe. Since we are adding vanilla, it is considered cajeta de vainilla and has a creamy flavor.
- After 30 minutes, this is what it looks like.
- Discard some of the foam, using a spoon.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stop stirring!
In Mexico, you will see this Mexican dessert made in large copper pots (cazo de cobre) with a long wooden paddle over a flame. Some home cooks will also make it in clay pots or a dutch oven.
Since most cooks north of the border don’t cook like this, I suggest you use a large pot. Choose a pot that will allow for the rise and fall of the simmering liquid.
- After 55 minutes, this is what it looks like.
- Remove some more of the foam.
Notice how the color has changed. It has picked up the golden color that we’re looking for.
The Maillard reaction happens when amino acids and sugar mix together. It gives the cajeta its brown color and complex flavor
- See the large bubbles and the caramel color It almost looks like lava.
- Turn off heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Check the consistency. It should be thick and stick to the wooden spoon or whisk. You should be able to see the bottom of the pot when stirring.
If you let it cook longer than an hour, it will become thicker and darker.
Don’t go stir-crazy! (Wink! Wink!) Take turns making the “cajeta candy.”
If you are giving this as a gift, I suggest you make it a family affair and have others in your family take turns in the stirring.
Where to Buy It
Cajeta Coronado is probably the most well-known brand in Mexico that makes this delicious dessert.
You can buy the squeezable bottle with its easy-pour design at just about any Mexican market. Some large chain grocery stores may even be offering it in the Hispanic food section. Or buy it online.
Place the cajeta in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If it hardens, place in warm water for a few minutes before using.
More Mexican Desserts:
Picture apple slices or your morning french toast with this caramelized milk topping. YUM! Or give it away at Christmas to your friends and family. This labor of love will bring a lot of joy to the world. 🙂
This easy cajeta recipe is one of the best dessert toppings. It’s sure to tickle your taste buds!
Hungry for More?
Did you make this recipe? Please rate the recipe below!
- Pour all the ingredients (except for the baking soda) into a large, heavy stock pot.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Once it's simmering, add the baking soda.
- Stir for 45 minutes on medium-low.
- When it begins to bubble over, reduce heat.
- (Or turn off completely until the bubbles reduce. Then turn back on to low-med heat).
- Remove some of the foam on top.
- It will begin to develop a caramel color.
- Do not stop stirring.
- After 55 minutes, check the texture.
- The texture will be thick and coat the back of a cooking spoon.
- Once this happens, remove from heat.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before pouring into an airtight container.
Maggie Unzueta is the writer/blogger, photographer, recipe developer, videographer, and creator of In Mama Maggie's Kitchen. She has been developing easy and authentic Mexican food, Mexican-inspired recipes, and traveling tips since 2010. From family recipes to her extensive travels throughout Mexico, she brings traditional Mexican flavors from South of the Border and into your kitchen. Maggie has been featured in notable culinary websites and other media outlets. For more details, check out her About page.