On weekends, we often have 12-16 people over for dinner. Since neither Ihsan nor I are big dessert eaters, someone else usually brings dessert. A couple of weeks ago, our good friend, John “Doc” Willoughby, brought a gingerbread cake and homemade goat milk caramel sauce. I have long been a big fan of anything made with goat milk, so I was thrilled with the dessert. Suffice it to say, we ate everything.
The goat milk that we carry at Formaggio Kitchen South End and in our Cambridge store is from Beltane Farm, located in Lebanon, CT. Beltane Farm is an 8-acre farm producing both cheeses and milk seasonally. Which is fitting. The name of the farm refers to the pagan celebration of May Day. In the Celtic tradition, fresh cheese and dairy were enjoyed as part of this celebration, welcoming spring, and the new milk supply that was the result of a successful kidding and lambing season. In addition to the fresh goat milk, we also have their thick Greek-style goat milk yogurt and, occasionally, soft ripened cheeses from Beltane Farm (depending on availability) at our South End location.
Beltane Farm’s grass-fed Oberhasli, Sannaan and La Mancha goats are milked twice daily. Fresh goat milk is an excellent beverage – the fat globules are smaller than in cow milk, and so it does not need to be homogenized. This lends a wonderful, creamy texture to the milk. As well, some research indicates that goat milk is easier to digest, contains less lactose, is less allergenic and is more akin to human milk than cow milk.
After our dinner, Doc was kind enough to share his recipe for caramel sauce with me. It’s delicious not only on cake but drizzled on ice cream or for caramel corn!
Goat Milk Caramel Sauce
Yield: about 1½ cups
2 quarts goat milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, split open)
Large pinch of coarse salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla extract or bean, and cinnamon stick (if using) in a sturdy, heavy-bottomed sauce pan (important!). Heat over medium-high heat until the milk is just simmering.
Remove from heat and stir in the combined baking powder and water – watch out, it will foam up quite a bit. When the foaming has subsided, return the pan to heat. As soon as bubbles appear, turn the heat down so that the mixture is at a brisk simmer, not a boil.
Cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning, until the mixture has become a pale gold-brown. This should take about an hour.
At this point, you will need to pay close attention and stir more frequently as the milk thickens. When drizzled on a cold plate, it should be about the thickness of a medium caramel sauce. If it gets too thick, you can thin it with a little water. When it turns a dark caramel color, it is ready. If you’d like a richer, butterscotch flavor, you can continue until it is dark brown.
Remove from heat and let cool. Take out the cinnamon stick (if using) and vanilla bean. You can strain it if you want a fine texture. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
– Recipe courtesy of John ” Doc” Willoughby
Valerie Gurdal is the owner of Formaggio Kitchen South End.