Cajeta Pecan Pie

I really only came up with this because I fell hardcore in love with cajeta, which is a caramelized goat’s milk. If you have never had it before, it is like a syrupy cousin to dulce de leche, made with slowly cooking down and stirring goat’s milk until it completely caramelizes, and there’s hints of cinnamon sprinkled in as well. In place of molasses, I used that for this filling, just to add that holiday spice with the cinnamon. What I love about pecan pie is that it is rich, gooey, sweet, and toasty, which I find to be perfect for the fall. I have a lot of memories of walking into my workplace cafeteria, and that being the dessert option because it was the leftover dessert from a banquet or a catering function. So for me, it does hold a happy place in my heart in that it would be the only dessert available during lunch. For my filling, it is made with the cajeta and pecans obviously, while the crust is infused with brandy, as the flavor helps with the sort of holiday feel I was going for, and the alcohol creates a flakier pastry. For the cajeta itself, to save time, I recommend using evaporated goat’s milk, as it will then take 45 minutes to make, as opposed to 6 hours.

For the cajeta:
12 oz evaporated goat’s milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all of your ingredients in a pot. Simmer down together on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that the bottom does not burn and the heat distributes evenly. Once the mixture is reduced to a thick, caramel-like color, and the consistency is like that of a fudge sauce, remove from heat and allow to cool down slightly. This will make a generous amount of cajeta, as you will not be needing all of it for the tart.

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and kept cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cajeta
1 tablespoon brandy
1 egg yolk

Mix together your flour, butter, and salt until it forms a crumbly texture. Mix into that your remaining ingredients to form a dough, then transfer into the refrigerator. Allow it to chill for at least 20 minutes. Roll out the dough to about 1/16th inch thickness and cut out a 6-inch round. Line a tart tin or a 6-inch ring mold with butter and flour. Place the round on dough into the bottom. Roll out the remaining dough into a long band and slice it so that the edges and slices are even. Place around the edges and sides of the tin or mold, trimming the excess. Bake the dough at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes first. 20 minutes in, remove the shell and press it down against the mold before returning it to the oven for the remaining baking time. Allow the tart shell to cool down slightly before adding in the filling to finish.

For the filling:
2 eggs
7 oz cajeta
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine your ingredients in a bowl. Pour into the baked tart shell and return to a 375 degree F oven for another 30 minutes. Allow the tart to cool before unmolding and serving. For minis, bake the tart shell for only 20 minutes, and the filled tart shells for another 20 minutes, at 375 F as well.

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