Cajeta is a beloved traditional Mexican sweet that deserves to be on more supermarket shelves across the entire United States. Essentially, it’s a caramel sauce made from sweetened goat's milk that has been cooked down until thick, gooey, darkened, and delicious. But that basic description doesn’t exactly do it justice.
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If you’re familiar with dulce de leche, the cow’s-milk version, then you have a strong basis for comparison. In terms of flavor, however, cajeta brings more to the table. Due to the different character of its main ingredient (goat’s milk), cajeta has a more complex and nuanced flavor than dulce de leche, with a subtle brightness that lifts you off your feet, lightening the rich caramel and balancing its sweetness. And it ratchets up the flavor profile of any recipe it’s added to.
Cajeta’s Origin Story
Hailing from Celaya, Mexico, in the present day state of Guanajuato, cajeta is named after the small wooden boxes (cajetas) it was originally sold in. Historically, the method of making sweets from milk has its origins in Spain, but the region famous for producing cajeta is where the method was first applied to goat’s milk.
Traditionally, There Are Three Varieties of Cajeta
- Vainilla: a light golden cajeta flavored with vanilla
- Quemada: literally translated as “burnt” cajeta; further reduced and caramelized for a darker, more intense end product
- Envinada: a cajeta flavored with spirits, such as rum, sherry, or tequila