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I have fallen in love with Dulce de Leche, which I make by long boiling unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk.

I've heard wonderful things about Cajeta, the same thing but made with goat's milk.

I want to try it. Alas, sweetened condensed goat's milk doesn't seem to be something I can get a hold of. I have been able to find recipes, like this one for Cajeta or Dulce de Leche that start with whole fresh milk (cow's or goat's). I'd do that, but I can't find find fresh goat's milk around here.

That leaves me with powdered or evaporated goat's milk (full-fat).

Especially after reading SAJ's answer here: Can evaporated milk be converted to "regular" milk?, I don't doubt that either of these products would work if I reconstitute them first with water, and then follow the recipe as if I had whole fresh goat's milk. Is there anything I should consider when choosing powdered vs evaporated?

Finally, can using canned or powdered milk for Dulce de Leche or Cajita speed up the condensing process by starting with less water (or even none in the case of evaporated) than I would use to fully reconstitute the milk? But still optimally caramelize the sugars?

EDIT Well, with no answers so far, and not being able to find any, I'm trying it tomorrow with evaporated, whole goat's milk I bought today. I have 2 cans, 12oz (355ml) each. They are double strength, so I would add 2 cans of water to make full strength goat's milk. I'm going to try it, but only add 1 can of water. I'll add the sugar, salt and baking soda according to the above recipe as if I had 48oz of milk, but in fact I will only have 36oz of liquid. So I'll multiply the other ingredients by 1.5. If all goes well, I should end up with just over 1 1/2 cups of Cajeta. As of this writing there is still time to stop me if you have reason to believe it won't work.

  • +1, this is a fantastic, well-written question. Just wanted to say that. – Ming Aug 6 '14 at 2:52
  • As in SAJ's answer, when you reconstitute evaporated milk the taste will be different than fresh milk. Very interested to see how it turns out. Please update as to if the cooking method works and what you think about the flavor. You may find that you like the flavor better with the evap. milk. – Cindy Aug 8 '14 at 11:30
  • @CindyAskew I won't know anytime soon if I like it better since I can't get fresh goat's milk, but it's yummy with the evaporated. – Jolenealaska Aug 9 '14 at 15:00
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By golly it worked! :)

Short Answer

Yes, evaporated goat's milk works just fine in Cajeta and you can start with at least 50% less water than you would use to fully reconstitute the milk.

That being the case, powdered goat's milk would probably work just the same way, but that has not (yet) been tested.

EDIT one year later:

I did it again using slightly more than 50% of the water that would be required to fully reconstitute the milk, and the process was smoother. I mention in the text below that I would try it with 2 tablespoons more water next time. That is the way to go; it worked better.

Much Longer Answer

Here's what I did:

  • 24 Fluid Ounces (710 ml) Evaporated Goat's Milk (double strength)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 gm) Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz Water (355ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda in 1 TBS water (yes, I did actually measure 3/8 tsp)

Optional (I used both)

  • Cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 TBS Vanilla Extract

Or if you're made of money

  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (are you kidding me? That would more than double the price of this whole operation!)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted loosely from Rick Bayless

1

Check, check, check, check...alright, lets go!


2

Everything but the baking soda and vanilla went into the pot and was brought to a simmer.


3

Add baking soda


Now this is kind of funny. I carefully measured 3/8 tsp of baking soda and mixed in the the little custard cup with a TBS of water. When I went to pour it in, half the baking soda stayed in the cup.


4

Screw it. The cup is stainless steel and I have to dig out the cinnamon sticks anyway.


5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Now it's just a matter of simmering, and stirring. And tasting, lots of tasting, tasting is very important. Did I mention tasting?

As the caramel thickened, it needed a lot of stirring, a lot of scraping. Towards the end it was tricky to stop stirring long enough to taste, but I managed.

It took about an hour and a half to get from simmering milk to dealing with thickening caramel. The last stage of constant stirring lasted about half an hour.

With practice I'm sure I could get the whole operation in under an hour, I was just very conservative with the temperature 'cause I've seen way too many pots of dairy boil over. With all this sugar, that is one mess I did not want to deal with.

I stirred in the vanilla just before I pulled the pan off the heat.

Well, I patted myself on the back for creating my first Cajeta. Both of the recipes I looked at while developing this recommend straining the warm caramel, and I can see why, it definitely has specks of darker and harder stuff. But, this particular batch of Cajeta has a destiny, it's going to be cooked in a custard base for ice cream. That custard gets strained twice, and it will be whole lot easier to strain that than it would be to strain this sticky stuff.

So it's done, and it's absolutely delicious, but I have one more cool thing to share with you.

I've been making (perfecting) this ice cream for a while. I've been starting with two cans of sweetened condensed milk turned into Dulce de Leche. One can goes into the ice cream base, the other goes into a Ziploc baggie. I snip off a corner and use the baggie like a pastry bag as I'm packing the ice cream into its container. Then I get the swirls of Dulce de Leche. Of course I only use like a quarter or a third of it. So to store the remainder, I just squoodge the caramel away from the corner and fold it over. No mess, no fuss. So....

12 13 14 15 16

Lookie there, 14.85oz. Perfect for a batch of ice cream. (minus 4.75 grams for the bag, but who's counting?) Putting it the baggie allowed me to get a volumetric measurement too, by displacement of water in a measuring cup. It was pretty darn close to exactly what I expected it to be, 1 1/2 cups.

The caramel is a wee bit hard, I'll know better next time and take it off the heat a few minutes sooner. If it's difficult to deal with cold, I can just drop the whole baggie into almost simmering water for a while. Or I can just cut off the bag. Chilled, I think it'll just peel away from the bag in one piece. I can just drop the chunk into the simmering milk and mix it in before adding the eggs to my ice cream base.

  • Thanks for sharing your recipe and process!! Question: Since you're just going to boil it off anyway, is it really necessary to add the water? Wouldn't that shorten the stirring (and tasting) time? ;) – user35423 May 9 '15 at 21:16
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    @Philana No. As a matter of fact, based on the last experiment (I haven't repeated the attempt yet), I would ADD a bit more water (2 TBS?). The sugars in the milk and the sugar that you add need time to caramelize. As a matter of fact, the whole process is a type of caramel making. There needs to be enough water in everything all together to be able to "boil down" the liquid. If you want to duplicate my success making this, I would follow what I said above, but add 2 TBS of water. – Jolenealaska May 10 '15 at 9:28
  • I'm sure you can see why it was decided that your question wasn't an answer to my question, but that it added to the discussion. If that doesn't make complete sense :) please visit our Help Center. And welcome! – Jolenealaska May 10 '15 at 9:39

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