the gregarious homebody

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Kind of Milk Moustache

M loves butterscotch and caramel (what is the difference, anyway?  Anyone?), so when she asked me for a birthday cake with caramel inside (not icing), I immediately thought of dulce de leche. 

Of course I could have just bought some from the store or I could have tried {this method} to make some from a can of sweetened condensed milk.  But no.  I love making things really from scratch.  Not all the time. Not as a rule.  Please. I'm busy, people, like all of you are. But I've always liked the science of baking.  I love knowing how stuff is made or where it comes from like, for instance, {cream of tartar}.  I couldn't make that shit up.

Anyway, FASCINATING to me. So after I thought of dulce de leche, I thought of {this book} that HH got me for Hanukkah.  I love the fact that these three ingredients, below, (with the tiny addition of a 4th)  make something so different from themselves in their raw state when combined and cooked.  

This recipe is for the Mexican version of dulce de leche, or Carjeta Mexicana. A fun fact: I learned that I'd better never call this stuff just "carjeta" if I can help it, while in Mexico.  "Carjeta" alone means "little boxes" which also means....vagina.  Fun!  I love learning!
Yes, that is {goat milk}.  From a goat.  I don't know why this freaks me out so much since, hello!, I luuuuurrrrrve goat cheese.  But I was nervous to try it because I thought it would be too....goaty.  

But the recipe author insisted that using the goat milk makes all the difference; that the kinds made with just sweetened condensed cow's milk were too sweetly cloying, that they didn't have as much character. And I am a recipe follower (at least the first time I make something).

The woman was right.  Behold, amazing deliciousness:

This stuff is dangerous.  I'm not a huge caramel fan but since it's not teeth-achingly sweet but deep and rich instead,  I could eat a LOT of this.  
Very. Very.  Dangerous.

And here's what she wanted, in all its purple and green glory (her choice):

The recipe:
Cajeta Mexicana
(Mexican Dulce de Leche)
 Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages
(yes, that is the title.  I like weird books.  At least it isn't
The History of Gunpowder...ahem, judy..)
by Anne Mendelson,
with my additions/changes in bold

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups, if you can keep your fingers out of it

1 quart whole cows' milk
1 quart goats' milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a large (at least 6-qt.) saucepan (I used my 8-qt Calphalon stockpot) thick enough to not start scorching on the bottom before milk is half-cooked.  Pour the milks into the pan, reserving 1/2 cup of one of them.

Add sugar to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it is dissolvedPlace over medium-high heat and bring to a low boil.  Stir 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into 1/2 cup of reserved milk.  Off the heat, add to hot milk, which will froth up at once.  Set over medium hear and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes.  The mixture will start to look more like a syrup as water evaporates and temperature rises.  After this the recipe says to stir constantly because it will be another mere 30 minutes until the dulce is thickened so much that you can see the tracks made from scraping the spoon across the bottom.  

BULLSHIT.  This fucker took 2 hours in total.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  It was that good.  Anyway....

Gradually reduce temperature if necessary as the mixture darkens and thickens. When a stroke of the mixing spoon exposes the bottom of the pan and the syrup is slow to close (don't wait for this "slow to close" part.  I was tired so I just waited until it exposed the bottom of the pan and it very quickly closed again.  And it was perfection)

Remove the pan from heat and let sit until the molten stuff is partly cooled but still liquid enough to pour into small containers (I would recommend about 10 minutes).  Let cool to room temperature before covering. It will keep for weeks at room temperature (this scares me a little), for months in the refrigerator.  It may, however, crystallize like long-stored honey.  If this happens, set the container in hot water until the crystals melt.  I seriously doubt it will last that long.

Now I'm thinking you're probably freaked out since I told you it took me 2 hours of stirring to make this.  It was honestly no big deal.  I never stirred it constantly until the very end.  I just made sure it was on a medium-low temperature once it started to get caramel-colored.  And think of the caramel deliciousness that could be yours: ice cream sundaes come to mind.  It was so worth it.  Let's take a look again:

'Nuff said.


mamacita said...

God dammit, that looks good. I would do many dirty things for cajeta.

jen said...

If by "dirty" you mean slavishly eat it by the spoonful while trying to hide the fact, I've got you beaten in that regard. DANGEROUS stuff.

Hey--what were those delightful little cookies???? I ate THE WHOLE BAG.

adozeneggs said...

The cake looks awesome. I made dulce de leche last year with just milk and sugar (Alton Brown recipe).
I wonder what the difference is by using goat milk?
Anyway, what is it with kids and these crazy color combos? Green and purple? next thing you know she'll want to go to Mardi Gras in N.O.
BTW LOVE the doughnuts on the header.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the goat milk twist. It's not too goaty if it's fresh. and I can see how it could cut the sweetness. You inspire me! I think I'll make it.

That book sounds GREAT. You'll have to lend it to me...if I ever see you again in my life....


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