Crepas con Cajeta
Rick Bayless, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Mexican cookery, delights in this rich dessert of crepes sauced with butter and cajeta and sprinkled with toasted pecans. It is a dish from western Mexico, he notes, and the cajeta is traditionally cooked down in enormous copper pots. The cajeta’s rich color and taste is the result of the caramelization of milk sugars, not vegetable sugars, giving it a different taste. Chef Bayless suggests trying this dish with very ripe plantains sauteed in butter.
- Cajeta (makes about 1 cup)
- Goat’s milk - 1 quart
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Baking Soda - 1/2 teaspoon
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Mexican Cinnamon Sticks - Three 4-inch pieces
- Myers’s Rum - 1 tablespoon (alt. sherry or grain alcohol)
- All Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 1/4 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Egg - 1 large
- Egg Yolk - 1
- Oil - 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Salt - Pinch
- Unsalted Butter - 2-4 tablespoons
- Pecans - 1 cup, roughly chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 3/4 cup
To prepare the cajeta: Put the goat’s milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring just to a boil; adjust the heat to a slow simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Combine the baking soda and water and stir to blend well, then stir into the goat’s milk mixture. Depending on the acidity of the goat’s milk, the mixture may froth up, then subside. Simmer 45 minutes, until the mixture has reduced, thickened, and turned a caramel color; the slower the cajeta cooks, the better it will be. Add the cinnamon sticks and simmer another 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Stir in the rum or other alcohol and set aside.
To make the crepe batter: In a blender or food processor, blend the flour, milk, water, egg and egg yolk, oil, and salt for 5 seconds. Turn off the motor and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Blend the batter for 20 seconds more to make a perfectly smooth blend. Transfer the batter to a bowl. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. The batter may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring back to room temperature before using.
To cook the crepes: Heat a 6- to 7-inch crepe pan or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Brush the pan lightly with butter and heat until the butter is hot but not smoking. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of the crepe batter into the center of the hot pan and tilt it in all directions to spread the batter. The batter should cover the pan with a light coating; pour any excess back into the bowl. Cook about 30 seconds, until the bottom of the crepe is lightly browned. Shake the pan by its handle to dislodge the crepe, then turn it over with your fingers or a spatula. Cook another 15 to 20 seconds, then remove from heat. Make 12 crepes. If using immediately, heat the oven to 200 F, transfer the crepes to a pan, and place in the oven to keep warm. If using later, transfer the crepes to a rack. When thoroughly cooled, stack them, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Rewarm when needed in a single layer in a 300 F oven.
To prepare the pecans: Melt the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the pecans. Stir to blend. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pecans release their aroma and the butter begins to brown. Set aside; keep warm.
To assemble and serve: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread a crepe on a work surface and lightly brush with melted butter from the pan with the pecans, and a film of cajeta. Fold the crepe in half and lightly coat with butter and cajeta again. Fold in half once more (into a quarter) and coat again. Place in a long oven-proof serving dish or on an oven-proof platter. Repeat with each crepe, overlapping them slightly in the dish. Pour the remaining cajeta around and over the crepes in the dish. Place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.