This easy Cajeta recipe is made with only 5 ingredients and is so simple to make! It makes a perfect topping for any dessert. If you like dulce de leche, you’re going to love cajeta!
Table of Contents
What is cajeta?
Cajeta is a thick and gooey caramel-like sauce that’s made by boiling and slowly cooking goat’s milk and sugar until it reduces to a beautiful golden brown or amber color. The goat’s milk gives cajeta its rich and complex flavor that is slightly tangy and deliciously sweet.
Cajeta can be found all over Mexico and is often served as candy, as a topping for cakes and ice cream, and as a spread to put on thin cookies or pancakes.
It’s commonly described as Mexican caramel and can easily be cooked to different consistencies, from a thin sauce to a glossy and hard candy.
What’s the difference between cajeta and dulce de leche?
Cajeta and dulce de leche are similar in that they’re both sweet confections made from milk and sugar, are made in very similar ways, are are used and eaten in similar ways. Where they differ is the type of milk they’re made from.
Cajeta is made from goat’s milk and dulce de leche is made from cow’s milk. While that doesn’t seem like a huge difference, the different milks give each confection a unique and distinct flavor that is undeniable.
How to make cajeta
To make cajeta, start start by mixing a couple of tablespoons of goats milk with some baking soda in a small bowl, then setting it aside for later use. The baking soda helps to reduce the temperature at which the cajeta can brown and caramelize, allowing it to develop its beautiful color slowly and without burning.
Add sugar, a cinnamon stick, and goat milk into a large pot or dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, making sure to stir frequently to fully dissolve all the sugar.
Once the mixture is simmering, place it off the heat and add the baking soda mixture. This will cause the cajeta to bubble and foam up. Keep stirring. Once the bubbling is finished, return the pot to the heat and bring it back to a simmer.
Cook the mixture uncovered until it reduces and thickens. This can take anywhere from 45-60 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture frequently so that the bottom doesn’t burn. You’ll know the cajeta is done when the mixture is a rich medium to dark brown color and it coats the back of the spoon, almost like the consistency of thick honey.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. The cajeta will continue to thicken as it cools.
Getting the right consistency and thickness
The great thing about making cajeta at home is that you can cook it to your preferred thickness.
- For a thinner consistency, stop cooking the cajeta when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and only momentarily leaves an empty trail whenever you scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula.
- For a thicker consistency, stop cooking the cajeta when you can scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula and it easily leaves an empty trail for a few seconds. You’ll know when it reaches this point because the cajeta will be undeniably thick!
Ways to use cajeta
This dessert sauce is so versatile, you can use it in many different ways. These are a few of my favorites:
- Dipping sauce: Dip anything from fresh fruit, churros, or pan dulce.
- Topping: Drizzle on ice cream, sopapillas, apple empanadas, pumpkin empanadas, or swirl on top of my Mexican brownies.
- By itself! This sauce is so addicting and perfectly sweet and decadent, you’ll find yourself dipping a spoon inside the jar and eating it solo.
To store, transfer cajeta to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Cajeta will thicken and harden as it cools. To soften it, you can heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds or run it under hot water until it reaches your desired consistency.