Mexico has graced us with plenty of worthwhile culinary creations. From traditional Mexican foods like tacos to burritos, to fajitas, the list can go on for miles.But have you ever tried cajeta? Its unmatched flavor and richness have made it a favorite of anyone who has a sweet tooth.
I’ve been so curious about this irresistible, caramel-like sauce to the point of doing some research on it.
It’s about time I share some of my newfound knowledge of this incredibly delicious Mexican dessert with you.
What Is Cajeta?
Cajeta is a slow-cooked Mexican caramel sauce. It’s much thicker than traditional caramel because it’s made with goat’s milk instead of water.
The process of making cajeta is quite similar to that of dulce de leche.
However, while the main ingredient of dulce de leche is cow’s milk, it’s goat’s milk for cajeta.
Now, let’s take a little peek at the origins of cajeta, shall we?
The Origins of Cajeta
Cajeta is a variation, an upgrade actually, of caramel. Therefore, in order to know its history, you may want to know where caramel first became a thing.
Several South American countries claimed that caramel was their invention.
However, the legends about caramel seemed to surround one country above all, which was Argentina.
The people of this country stated that caramel came to life on their land in 1829.
Yet, these claims were later proven wrong because mentions of dulce de leche were found in letters dating from 1814 and 1817.
So where exactly was caramel invented?
Of course, there isn’t a definite answer to this question, but some historians point to Indonesia.
From there, it was said that caramel had spread throughout Southeast Asia until it reached the Philippines in the 6th century.
Later, when the Philippines was under the control of New Spain, the Spaniards couldn’t help but fall in love with this new type of dessert.
Then, caramel found its way to Mexico, which was also controlled by Spain.
Other scholars claim that caramel was first invented by Arabs.
So how did cajeta emerge to the world? As in everything in history, it was an accident.
See, goats were in large numbers throughout many states of Mexico, especially in the city of Cleya.
So, instead of only using cow’s milk to make some caramel, people started mixing it with goat’s milk, which led to another, better version of caramel.
When people noticed this turn of events, they began using goat’s milk alone. Henceforth, cajeta came to the surface, named after the Mexican city of Cleya. To this day, this city is where you’ll find authentic cajeta.
There, it’s made using the same traditional method that has been used for more than 400 years.
The Difference Between Cajeta and Other Caramel Types
As you probably know, to make any type of caramel, you should heat the sugar above a temperature of 340F to break the bond between its molecules.
Yet, the slight change in how you proceed from there can create a spectrum of different types of caramel. Let’s find out how caramel is different than cajeta.
Caramel is made by cooking down only sugar at a temperature of 340F. You can also add some water and voila, you’re done!
The result of this technique is a sauce with a golden-brown color. It’s also sweet and includes a touch of roasted flavor.
I’ve always wondered if toffee and caramel were one and the same.
Turns out that, while toffee might taste a bit like caramel, making it requires a lot more ingredients than just sugar and water.
To create the thick texture that toffee is known for, you’ll have to use milk or cream, butter, sugar, vanilla, and glucose.
You should start by heating sugar and glucose separately, then repeating the process after adding the cream and butter.
The final texture should be soft and creamy.
Dulce de Leche
Dulce de leche, which means ‘sweet from milk’ in Spanish, is the closest you can get to cajeta.
You make dulce de leche by burning sugar, then adding cow’s milk.
You may want to know that this dessert is quite popular in Latin America. It’s also a favorite of tourists from all over the world.
Here’s a richer variation of caramel. Instead of using water or milk to create its consistency, you should add butter to brown sugar to make butterscotch.
The result is sweeter, creamier, and softer than any other type of caramel.
There’s our hero!
As you probably know by now, it’s quite similar to dulce de leche. However, you should use goat’s milk to create cajeta, which gives it a distinctive taste.
In addition to that, cajeta is usually thicker and darker in color than its caramel siblings.
Now, are you ready to prepare your own cajeta at home?
Tips for Making the Most Delicious Cajeta
Reading about types of caramel and how sweet they are must’ve made your mouth water!
So, I’ve decided to satisfy your passion for desserts by including this traditional recipe for Mexican cajeta.
Let’s dive in!
- 2 cups / 16 ounces / 500 ml of goat milk
- 2 tablespoons of whole-fat cow milk
- ½ cup of white sugar
- ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cinnamon stick
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ tablespoon of baking soda
Equipment to Use
- 1 large pot
- 1 big wooden spoon
- 1 jar for storage
- Put the goat milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon stick in a large pot
- Let the mixture boil lightly over medium heat while stirring it until the sugar dissolves
- Remove the pot from the heat
- Mix the cow milk and baking soda in another bowl until the baking soda dissolves
- Pour the baking soda mixture into the pot that contains all the other ingredients
- Stir the mixture in quick motions carefully because the liquids might overflow the pot
- Keep stirring until the bubbles have stopped forming
- Turn the heat to medium, then return the pot to the burner
- Cook the mixture for 20-30 minutes while stirring frequently to prevent bubbles
- At this point, the mixture will start to darken
- Keep stirring the contents of the pot for another 30-40 minutes
- When the cajeta reaches a consistency that’s similar to maple syrup, it’s ready
Of course, when you get to this point, you’ll have to turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down for a few minutes. Then, pour it into a jar and leave it until it’s not hot anymore so that you can store it in the refrigerator to use later.
Luckily, there are plenty of scenarios where you could enjoy the richness and sweetness of your cajeta.
Our Favorite Ways of Using Cajeta
You can bless your favorite desserts with a drizzle of cajeta and let your tasting buds marvel at the unique taste.
Here, we suggest a few ways you can use the cajeta you’ve just made.
- Combine it with vanilla ice cream
- Use it on crepes
- Make a cajeta milkshake
- Sprinkle it over pancakes and waffles
- Drizzle Maria cookies with cajeta
- Use it as a dipping for your favorite fruits
- Add a teaspoon of cajeta to your morning coffee
There’s no wonder why cajeta is so popular in Mexico.
Its unmatched taste, rich consistency, and distinctively dark color only add to its appeal.
You can always prepare it at home. Yet, if you want the original experience, you should consider visiting the city of Cleya to taste the best cajeta in the world.
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.