One of my earliest memories is of being handed a small saucer of fresh cajeta
by a tall, dark-haired neighbor of ours in Mexico. A sweet seduction like this you never forget, no matter how chaste. This amber-colored elixir is the taste of my childhood: dizzyingly sweet, with notes of burnt sugar and barnyard commingled in a sigh of pleasure. The name allegedly comes from the Spanish phrase al punto de cajeta
, which means a liquid thickened to the point at which a spoon drawn through it reveals the bottom of the pot. But I've also heard it said that it takes its name from the small wooden boxes in which it was traditionally packed. There is simply nothing like goat's milk caramel, cooked to a dark satin swirl and touched with hints of salt and vanilla. It's delicious with cheese, believe it or not, and drizzled over or mixed into ice cream, but I enjoy it best spooned sinfully straight from the jar.