A wise guy named Aristotle pointed out that sometimes, a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I think that when he said that, Aristotle may have been eating a spoonful of cajeta, an extraordinary sauce that starts out as humble milk and sugar.
What, you may be asking, is cajeta? Think dulce de leche, silky smooth, rich, sweet perfection. Cajeta is the secret to everlasting happiness. Cajeta is what heaven would taste like if you could eat it from a spoon. Cajeta should be renamed "Mexican Wonder Sauce." Cajeta probably cures male pattern baldness and halitosis.
Ok maybe it can't do that... But put a dollop of it on your next plain Jane bowl of ice cream, and tell me you don't get all tingly inside.This recipe comes courtesy of pastry icon David Lebovitz. This is David's book The Perfect Scoop. When you're ready to make ice cream at home, buy this book and read it cover to cover. Then read it again, then eat more ice cream than any human should. I've made many of these recipes, and every one is a slam dunk. Mr. Lebovitz, if you would like an enthusiastic blonde assistant to come join you in Paris, please email email@example.com.
Now onto the cajeta. Milk...
Half a vanilla bean...
And some corn syrup, baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
Combine all of these elements in a pot, and then heat and stir, heat and stir, heat and stir...
It's done when it looks like this. You might notice weakness in your knees. This is perfectly normal.
Now the hard part. Let it cool. The proprietors of Butter + Cream will not be held responsible for third degree burns when you stick your hand in the pot of this hot liquid. Wait about 20 minutes. Then try not to devour it in one sitting.
I swirled my cajeta into vanilla ice cream, but you could also mix it into your next batch of brownies, drizzle it over some apples or pears, pour some over cheesecake, or just stick your face right in the bowl. It's ok, I won't judge.
From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
4 cups whole milk (traditional Mexican cajeta uses goat's milk, but cow's milk works just fine as well)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 vanilla bean (1 cinnamon stick is a good substitute if you don't have vanilla bean. But spring for a vanilla bean, it's the best baking ingredient on earth.)
Big pinch of salt.
In a large, heavy duty oven or stock pot, heat the milk, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda, vanilla bean, and salt until the mixture comes to a boil. As the milk begins to foam up, begin stirring it with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.
Reduce the heat so the milk is on a low rolling boil and continue to cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom, allowing it to reduce.
After about 20 minutes, the milk will begin to thicken and turn a light beige color. At this point, lower the heat as much as possible and be vigilant, scraping the bottom constantly as it cooks.
Continue to cook for about 15 minutes more, stirring vigilantly until the milk is the color of coffee with a touch of cream. Remove from the heat and allow the cajeta to cool before serving.
Cajeta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months. If this is around for more than two months in your house, I'm not sure whether you have a soul.