Cajeta with Black Strap Rum From a Chicago Point of View

by Courtney on May 16, 2010

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I love the diversity that is Chicago. Yet I have to admit, its still a segregated city in many aspects.
I find the only areas where you can be truly integrated are the more expensive areas, where money or education is the common denominator. Other than that, your ethnic origin separates you. I live on a street that cuts from the east by the lake and flows  all the way west. If you were to drive down it , you would see how the neighborhood shifts from shabby yet  solid and genteel high rises by the lake inhabited by a racially diverse mix of academics, lawyers,doctors, students, and the mainly bourgeois.My world. A little South off this main road is the home of our nations president, Barack Obama.Continue driving a a few blocks  later  there is an immediate shift. A busy mostly African American  thoroughfare of people ranging from people doing questionable activities, regular folks passing through on Public transit, and just people hanging out. Barber shops,   African Braid shops,liquor stores,cheap fast foods, and neighborhood lounges, I couldn’t even conceive of going into, but love to look into while driving by.This little section has another name, Tobacco Road which  is a paradox, because once this section of Bronzeville was alive and bursting with the greats of the African American music, and literary scene. Imagine these names hanging out and performing during the Great Migration of Blacks from the South,Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Dinah Washington, Miles Davis, James Brown, Redd Foxx, Richard Wright , Joe Louis,Bessie Coleman, and Gwendolyn Brooks.Off the main road  today , young and affluent  mostly African Americans are staging a neighborhood comeback.Keep driving then it shifts to a little pocket of blue collar  Caucasians who haven’t left the area and seems worlds apart from the whole  streets  dynamic.
Then the road  it shifts to a predominately Mexican  feel with Taquería,Fruterías ,Carnicerías,

Pasteleria and  Panaderia. In addition to the small shops there are

major super markets catering to the Latinos I want to visit and just explore, which I have been doing on occasion.It has been an education and eye opener . It was in one of these little shops I discovered Cajeta lollipops. Goat milk simmered down with sugar until it hardened to a lollipop .But Cajeta is often more recognized in a more sauce like  form. Spread on toast, , crepes,used as an ice cream topping, or eaten straight out the jar, its up to you to adapt it. I decided to mix my love of  Blackstrap rum with the slow cooked goat milk, vanilla  and sugar.

Cajeta with Buckwheat Crepes
Cajeta With Black Strap Rum
*this recipe requires frequent stirring and attention. It will take abut 3 hours to complete. I went ahead and did house work while checking on my Cajeta within 10 minute intervals to stir while it was on a lower heat.
1/2 gallon (2 Qts Goat Milk) Cows milk can be used as well.
2 teaspoons of vanilla paste ( Nielsen Massey or 1 vanilla bean)
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon water for this reason to prevent the milk proteins from coagulating  and aiding in the caramelizing, browning of the Cajeta.
4 tablespoons Black Strap Rum or dark rum
In a heavy stainless steel pot combine Sugar, goats milk, a seeded vanilla bean and pod, or paste.Whisk to combine. Simmer on a low heat until sugar is dissolved.Carefully add the baking soda water and the liquid will fizz up a bit. Continue to simmer on a low heat but with the simmering action visible. Stir frequently. Over time the mixture will start to deepen and brown ( 1 hour). After the first hour start to add the rum in intervals and continue to stir even more frequently. You may want to adjust heat to less or more.. The  mixture should be reduced by a third, eventually to by half or more. Towards the end of cooking it will be deep and golden and start to bubble and come to rolling aggressive boil  as it’s more sugar than liquid at this point.Don’t let let the Cajeta get to thick as it will thicken while cooling down. Store covered in the refrigerator. If its to thick heat for 10 seconds in the ,microwave or warm container  in a batch of hot water before use.