Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vanilla, Part II

As a follow up to last weeks vanilla post, a simple recipe for the Mexican equivalent to creme caramel. The significant difference lies in the cajeta (ka-het-ta), a Mexican confection of caramelised milk. Traditionally made with a mixture of cow's and goat's milk, it manages a wonderfully complex balance of caramel with the vaguely acidic tones of the milk. It is hugely popular here, as lollipops, ice-cream, or even as a spread for crepes rather like Nutella.

The following cajeta recipe comes from Rick Bayless, the custard component is my own. Though not exactly difficult, cajeta is time consuming and some prefer to avoid the process and simply place a tin of condensed milk (unopened) into a pot of boiling water to simmer for two hours. When cooled, you will find a smooth caramel inside only lacking a dash of good vanilla. Even to my standards it not too bad, though maybe a little sweet.

Flan de Cajeta | Serves 8

The Caramel
500ml goat's milk
500ml cow's milk
1 cup sugar (raw is best)
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, dissolved in a tablespoon of water
1 Vanilla bean
6 Dariole moulds
  1. Place milk, sugar and vanilla on a medium heat in large heavy based pot. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the baking soda. Make sure your pot is big enough for the small eruption the baking powder will cause.
  2. Return to the heat and simmer gently until the mixture darkens in colour. This takes about an hour of fairly frequent stirring, so it's good opportunity to begin the custard stage of the flan (see below).
  3. As the sauce darkens it will thicken. Stirring in this stage is vital as caramels burn easily. You must continue until the cajeta is thick enough to form semi-solid balls if dropped into cold water. At this point, add the seeds from the vanilla bean to the mixture then pour a small amount into each of your dariole moulds. When cooled, place the remainder in a jar and refrigerate.
The Custard
900ml milk
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 vanilla bean
5 eggs
6 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod in to saucepan, add the milk and salt and warm for 10 mins, letting the vanilla permeate. Let cool.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the cooled milk mixture and then strain into a jug. Pour the mixture into the cajeta lined dariole moulds and place them into a baking tray. Fill the tray to just below the level of the darioles with warm water, cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the custard has set. Remove, cool to room temperature and enjoy.


  1. If using a tin of condensed milk, will this be sweetened milk or not?

  2. Sorry i should have clarified, the cajeta recipe does call for sweetened condensed milk. Though it may be possible to buy condensed milk that is unsweetened, it is pretty uncommon (at least as far as this continent goes). Throughout Australia, and The States at least, condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk refer to the same product. It is, in fact, the sugar which is added to the milk which will caramelise when the tin is boiled in hot water, thus giving you your cajeta, butterscotch, or whatever else you may call it.

  3. hey travey,
    so i just read all your blogs in one sitting and you have me very inspired to serve up some mexican treats in the french alps. think ill start with the cajeta if i can get my hands on some fresh goats milk.
    hope your both well and sounds like your having a ball!!