I drink my coffee black. I’m always surprised at the reactions that this elicits. In a deli in Yonkers, the guy behind the counter asked if I had had a “rough night” after I turned down milk and sugar even after the second time he asked. Nope. I am also not on a diet. Even at Dunkin’ Donuts, the temple of “light and sweet” coffee, I break their hearts and ask for my coffee black.
This is all a round-about apology for that fact that I’m not crazy about a certain seasonal coffee drink that gets a lot of play this time of year. I simply prefer a coffee and a treat over a coffee that is a treat. (Although, I can certainly support a D.I.Y version.) Pumpkin spice cajeta, a goat’s milk caramel with warm fall spices, keeps both the latte lovers and haters happy. Of course, you could stir this into a caffeinated beverage, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t consume the entire jar with just a spoon. There aren’t enough superfluous food adjectives to describe how great this stuff is.
After an ill-fated attempt at cajeta pudding that ended with curdled, scalding goat’s milk spraying from my blender, I had a fierce, unfulfilled cajeta craving. I remedied that with a fall riff on this goat’s milk caramel recipe from Rick Bayless. If you’re a little caramel-shy because of the whole burning sugar thing, this caramel is made from cooking the milk and sugar low and slow until the liquid reduces and caramelizes. In other words, no hot sugar.
Pumpkin Spice Cajeta
- 1 quart goat's milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground clove, and ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
- 1 spent vanilla bean (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Mix the baking soda with about 2 teaspoons of water and set aside.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer while stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and slowly stir in the baking soda mixture. It may foam up slightly.
- Return to heat and bring it to a steady simmer. Regulate the heat (I kept mine around medium-low) to maintain a steady simmer for 45-60 minutes.
- When the mixture turns a golden color and noticeably thickens, begin to stir more frequently and test for doneness.
- The mixture is done when a drop or two on a plate doesn't run when cooled for a minute or two in the freezer.
- Let cool completely to room temperature and store in the refrigerator. Eat with a spoon.