Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Fall seemed to be waiting behind some mysterious curtain, ready to pop out at a moment's notice. That moment was Labor Day weekend. Yep, summer turned to fall during one blustery, rainy evening.
So I made caramel. What better way to herald fall than with caramel and fresh apples from the market?
I didn't make just any caramel, but homemade cajeta, or goat's milk caramel, a Mexican dessert/sauce that is used in all sorts of tarts and desserts (or perhaps eaten right out of the jar?).
Cajeta caramel is amazingly easy to make, though slightly time consuming, and delicious! Some people think that goat's milk has a strong or "distinctive" (meaning offensive) flavor, but I find it very subtle, rich and soothing. I mixed whole cow's milk with goat's milk to soften the flavor a bit.
I mixed some of the cajeta with fresh, tart apples and an almond topping to make a quick and delicious fall dessert. I still have plenty left--please pass the spoon!
serves 8 (adapted from Rick Bayless, of course)
1 quart whole goat's milk
1 quart whole cow's milk
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean (optional)
2 cups sugar
½ tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp water
Bring milks, sugar and cinnamon to a simmer in large Dutch oven or pot. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda-water mixture.
(This neutralizes the milks' acid and assists in the browning process)
After the bubbles subside, return to heat and bring back to simmer, stirring often until the liquid turns a golden color and reduces, about 1 hour or possibly more.
Test if it is ready by dripping a bit onto a plate. If it develops a caramel-like consistency when cool, remove from heat.
Strain and pour into a jar.
Store in fridge up to a month-soften in microwave or by running warm water over jar. Use often.
6 tbsp butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
½ cup almonds or oats
pinch salt,cinnamon and nutmeg
Pulse all ingredients in food processor until crumbly.
6-8 medium cooking apples
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 squeeze lemon juice
2 tbsp cajeta, plus more for serving
Preheat oven to 375.
Peel and core 6-8 apples. Slice thin.
Mix in bowl with cinnamon, and lemon zest and juice.
Melt a tablespoon of butter into skillet
Add apple mixture and cajeta and stir.
Cover with crisp topping and pop in oven. Cook at 375 for about 25-30 minutes, until topping is browned and apples are soft.
To serve crisp:
Drizzle some cajeta onto the plates.
Scoop out warm crisp and place in center.
Top with fresh whipping cream or vanilla ice cream.