A warm Mexican dessert that resembles bread pudding, made with a fresh, homemade Mexican caramel and fresh berries.
YUM. Sometimes, that’s all I want to say!! But really, I’m so glad I ended up choosing this dessert to make from this month’s Cookbook of the Month. Truth be told, it wasn’t my first choice. But, once again, I found myself procrastinating. I knew I wanted a dessert, because whenever the cookbook has a dessert section, I just can’t pass it up. But every single one of the desserts I kept choosing just took way too long – as in parts needed to sit overnight or I’d need to wait for plantains to get super ripe. I just didn’t have the time. So I found this recipe, and went for it.
Granted, this recipe did take a lot of time as well. In fact, it pretty much took me all day. Luckily, it can be done in steps, so I wasn’t really working on it all day, it just took me all day to complete. But guess what – it was totally worth it!! You start with the cajeta – which really makes me think of dulce de leche – made completely from scratch. But this is cooked with a cinnamon stick, which totally takes it up a notch. Then the cake is nothing special on it’s own, but combined with the berries and the custard – pure deliciousness. If I were and entertainer, this would totally be going on the table at a dinner party, because it is totally restaurant quality.
- Maybe it’s an altitude thing, but the cajeta took me about twice as long to complete as the instructions say. (The instructions below are the original instructions.) What I thought was going to take me 40-45 minutes took me almost an hour and a half.
- Rick Bayless encourages the use of goat’s milk for the cajeta, but I used regular cow’s milk.
- I left out the alcohol.
- My pot boiled over at one point, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough of the cajeta. But I ended up with exactly 1 1/2 cups. I think I cooked mine longer than I needed to as well, because after it was refrigerated, it was much thicker than thin corn syrup. But it still whisked into the custard just fine and everything worked!
- I was going to buy a mix of berries for this, but our strawberry plants are producing the sweetest, juiciest strawberries right now, so I couldn’t resist. And they were perfect in this.
- Rick Bayless also gives a recipe for a Thick Cream, but I didn’t make it since I was short on time. But these were delicious just by themselves. My husband whipped up a bit of whipped cream for his, and it was delicious as well.
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- 1 quart goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or a mixture of the two
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- ½-inch cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cream sherry, rum, or brandy (optional)
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1½ cups cajeta
- 2 cups fresh berries
- extra berries, creme fraiche or sour cream
- Stir together the milk, sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon stick in a medium-sized (4-quart) heavy pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon water, remove the milk from the heat, and stir in the soda mixture, having a spoon ready to stir the mixture down if it bubbles up. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the mixture thickens into a pale-gold syrup, about 25 minutes. At this point, begin stirring very frequently as the mixture thickens into a caramel-brown syrup that’s the consistency of maple syrup, about 10 minutes more.
- Strain the cajeta through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup. Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in the sherry, rum or brandy (plus a little water, if necessary, to bring it to 1½ cups.) Refrigerate covered. When cold, the cajeta should have the consistency of thin corn syrup.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 17×11 inch jelly roll pan. Lightly grease the pan, then line with parchment paper, then grease and flour the paper.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder. Separate the eggs – you will need all the yolks, but only 4 of the whites. Place the yolks in the bowl of a mixer, add ½ cup sugar, the vanilla and 3 tablespoons of hot water. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light in color and texture. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture in 2 additions. If you only have 1 mixing bowl, scrape the mixture into a large bowl and clean and dry the mixing bowl.
- Beat the egg whites in the clean bowl at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add 1 T of the remaining sugar, beat for 1 minute, then add the final 1 T. of sugar, beating for an additional 1 minute. The whites should be firm, but not stiff, shiny, not dry. Gently fold into reserved batter a third at a time.
- Carefully spread batter evenly over prepared baking pan. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cool completely to room temperature.
- Tear cake into small pieces and spread out on a baking sheet. At 350 degrees F, bake again, turning at 5 minute intervals, until the pieces are dry and crunchy, approximately 10 minutes. Let cool.
- To make the pudding, you will only need about ⅓ of the pieces.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray an 8×8-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and eggs, then add the cajeta and whisk well to combine.
- Sprinkle 2 c. of the cake piece over the bottom of the dish and cover with berries. Then top with the remaining 2 c. of the cake pieces. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the cake and berries, making sure everything is evenly moistened. Let stand about 15 minutes to soak, occasionally pressing the bread down gently into the liquid.
- Bake until the pudding is bubbling around the edges, and is a deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly, and serve warm with a dollop of cream and fresh berries.
- Alternately, you can bake these in individual servings. They will take about half the time to cook.