May 9, 2013

It’s been busy around here. Recipe testing takes place twice a week and right after the last dish is washed, I’m up in my office writing writing writing. The book is taking shape and feeling real. The last few days have been incredibly productive and satisfying.

getting ready to test recipes

recipe testing day

I now have two assistants to wash dishes help a few hours a week. This definitely makes me happy and productive. This week, Ally and Maria ventured to the basement shelves and organized everything. They took inventory and grouped similar products together, even alphabetizing! Now, the OCD part of me will rest easy. As the book deadline nears (October.. not that far away,) the produce season ramps up (no pun intended!) and plans for photography get finalized, it’s going to be really important to have a handle on what’s on those shelves.

With all the jar-ganizing going on in the basement, I thought I owed the hard workers an afternoon treat. I’ve been dreaming of this tart for awhile – every ingredient is a pantry item and it was ready to serve in under an hour. Now, when I say pantry item, I’ll admit I’m talking about *my* pantry, but the recipes are all here or there, and push comes to shove, you could buy pineapple sauce and ricotta at the grocery store, so there is no excuse not to jump on this tropical bandwagon right away.


photo by ally kirkpatrick

The one item that might be unfamiliar and a little hard to find is something you’ll want to have on hand anyway. Really. Let’s talk Cajeta. The goat milk version of dulce de leche. It’s caramel but instead of achingly sweet there is a whisper of tang. It’s magical. It’s dangerous. I’m pretty sure it talks to me from the refrigerator.

Goat’s milk is more widely available now than it used to be. I hope you can find it at your supermarket. Whole Foods and Trader Joes both carry pasteurized goat’s milk, which works very well for cajeta. If you can find raw goat’s milk, it’s even better.

The wonderfully talented PBS star and cookbook author Pati Jinich told me she visited the town in Mexico where this caramel is made and then we both rhapsodized about the beauty of cajeta. At that point, I had enjoyed it on a spoon. And on ice cream. And I was worried for my waistline. Pati had a great idea. Dip fruit in it! Apples! Bananas! Pineapple! Suddenly, that jar of cajeta was looking healthy. Right? Right?

With the combination of fruit and cajeta in my mind, a jar of pineapple rum sauce, and a vague recollection of pineapple ricotta pie a friend’s mother used to make, this tart was born.


First, make the Cajeta



Makes: 1-1/2 cups
Active time: One Hour
Inactive time: 5 hours

1 quart goat’s milk
1 cup sugar
1 3” lengths of cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cool water

In a large (at least 5 quart,) heavy stainless steel pot or enamel over cast iron, warm the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the cinnamon, vanilla bean and salt and slowly raise the heat to bring the milk to a boil. This will take about forty five minutes.

Once there is a good boil, stir in the baking soda mixture. Be careful. This is when the cajeta wants to bubble over. Remove the pot from the heat as needed.

Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and allow to cook uncovered for about four hours.  Don’t worry about the foam… it will all get resolved as the mixture thickens. Just give it a good stir every few minutes.

During the last half hour, plan to stir frequently. Avoid sticking and burning at all cost. It’s just awful to clean up.

When the cajeta is deeply colored and thick, remove the cinnamon and vanilla.

Ladle into a clean jar or two, cover and refrigerate for up to three months. It will thicken considerably as it cools.

…then make the tart…



Tropical Tart
Makes one 9” tart

4 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cajeta plus extra for decorating
1 half-pint pineapple rum sauce (recipe here)
1 cup ricotta
2 bananas, sliced into 1/4″ coins

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar and egg yolk with a fork.

Add the flour, almond meal and cinnamon and continue to mix with a fork until combined.

Press the dough into an ungreased 9″ tart pan, pushing the dough partway up the sides. If you don’t have a tart pan, form a rustic circle of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat. Press or lightly roll with a pin to  1/2″ thickness.

Bake until golden brown, 18- 20 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven, place on a cooling rack and spread 1/2 cup of cajeta across the crust.

Using an offset spatula, spread the pineapple rum sauce across the cajeta.

Whisk the ricotta to lighten it.

Spread the ricotta across the pineapple sauce. What, no ricotta? Try mascarpone (1/4 cup) or creme fraiche (1/4 cup.)

Make a pretty spiral with the banana coins.

Decorate the banana slices with more cajeta. Brush it on, spoon it on, or dip a fork in and hold it high above the tart to make a pretty grid.

Maybe you should chill it for one hour, but we didn’t.

I go back and forth on whether this needs salted peanuts on top. Chime in.



3 Responses to “Tropical Tart with Homemade Cajeta”

  1. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    This sounds amazing Cathy. I made cajeta for Christmas gifts when my daughter’s share of fresh goat milk became a bit too much for her. It is truly divine and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be in this tart. I noticed several half gallon packages in her freezer yesterday; I should have absconded with some!

  2. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    Wow, that cajeta sounds delicious (and worth the 4 hours of stirring, esp if it lasts so long). I need to source goat’s milk around here.

    I wonder if I can get my minions to organize things once school gets out. If I paid them with cajeta, I bet they would.

    Thanks, Cathy!



  1.  in desperate need of recipes that call for skimmed milk! - Homesteading Today

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