Across Mexico and the United States, botana shops (Spanish for “snacks”) satisfy sweet teeth with ice cream and popsicles. Flavor options can range from strawberries and cream to avocado to cheese. However, to truly savor a flavor indicative of Mexican culture, one should opt for a caramel-colored cajeta bar.
Cajeta is a thick and sticky syrup made of caramelized goat’s milk. The slow-running, bronze liquid is an export of Celaya, a city in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The abundance of goats, coupled with a desire to create a product that reflected the region’s agriculture, led to its creation. In her cookbook Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice, chef Malika Ameen notes that the goat’s milk creates an “unusual, pungent caramel” that makes for a unique accompaniment to chocolate desserts such as brownies.
Cajeta is a staple in Mexican households, used for everything from breakfast to dessert. It’s not uncommon to see children topping their bowls of cornflakes with the sauce, or parents making an after-dinner snack of the spread on a bolillo, the Mexican version of a baguette. It’s also used as a dipping sauce for churros, a topping for ice cream, and a base for candies. Or you can just enjoy it on its own: Many fans will eat cajeta straight from the jar.
When you consume a cajeta bar, expect a smooth and creamy ice cream with a hint of goat’s milk flavor. About halfway through, you’ll reach the gooey center of thick syrup. As the mix swirls in your mouth, you’ll understand why it’s a favorite for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans of all ages.
Where to Try It
La Dulcería de CelayaAv. 5 de Mayo 39, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City, 06000, Mexico
This Mexico City sweet shop sells a variety of cajeta candies from Celaya.
La Michoacana Paleteria Y Neveria3125 W 26th St, Chicago, Illinois, 60623, United States
This shop in Chicago's Little Village specializes in Mexican sweets, including cajeta bars.