The idea for this ice cream started with a homemade cajeta made from raw goat’s milk as its inspiration. Cajeta is a caramel sauce popular among Latin cultures with different versions among those cultures. Cubans have their own version in which they heat sweetened condensed cow’s milk until it caramelizes, called dulce de leche, while the traditional Mexican cajeta recipe uses goat’s milk and adds cinnamon and sugar when caramelizing. Since I hadn’t yet made an ice cream using the raw goat’s milk I buy from a local farm, the combination of an ice cream and cajeta made purely from the raw goat’s milk sounded like a good idea. What I didn’t know was just how great it would taste. The flavor of this ice cream is a serious contender for surpassing my lifetime favorite flavor of dark chocolate. There’s not much that can approach the immutable status of dark chocolate in my opinion, but oh, this goat’s milk ice cream with cajeta definitely does.
In making the ice cream my goal was to stick strictly with the raw goat’s milk as the base. Technically, “ice cream” means that there is milk and cream used in the recipe. But unlike raw cow’s milk, with raw goat’s milk the fat or cream does not separate easily on its own. At this point I’m not aware of an easy way to separate the cream in order to use it in combination with the milk. The plus is that raw goat’s milk is slightly higher in fat than whole cow’s milk. With the addition of eggs and a homogenizing tip borrowed from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s at Home, the texture is richer than ice milk and has a crystallized denseness. For making the cajeta, I relied on a recipe from Rick Bayless, but left out the cinnamon for a straight caramel flavor.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in “a simple solution” that I thought the recipe needed a little bit more fine-tuning. Well, that was true in resolving a cooking technique question. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I really think I just wanted an excuse to keep making, and eating the ice cream, again and again. For experimental purposes, of course.
Cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce)
(recipe adapted from rickbayless.com)
4 cups raw goat’s milk
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pour the goat’s milk into a medium saucepan, and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and the milk begins to simmer, stirring every few minutes. Once the milk begins to simmer, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The milk will foam up after you add the baking soda-just continue to stir until the foam goes back down.
Return the pan to the heat and bring it to a brisk simmer, so that the milk is moving but only a few bubbles break the surface consistently. If the heat is too high, the milk will boil over, if it is too low, it will extend the cooking time unnecessarily. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally (about every five minutes), as the milk reduces and begins to turn a very light golden color.
Continue to keep at a simmer, stirring more frequently (every minute, and eventually continuously) for another 25 to 30 minutes, to finish the cajeta. The milk will continue to change color and thicken. The consistency you are looking for is like maple syrup, and the color a light golden brown. You can test a couple of drops on a cooler surface. Once slightly cooled the consistency should be soft and pliable. Be careful not to heat the cajeta to a harder caramel candy consistency. Remove the cajeta from the heat, let cool for a few minutes, then pour carefully, a small amount at a time, into a tempered glass container set on a hotpad. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for a month or longer. Once the cajeta cools completely, it will become much thicker and firmer. In order to use, re-soften by gradually heating glass container in a warm water bath or in the microwave.
Makes 1 to 1-1/4 cups
Goat’s Milk and Cajeta Ice Cream
(basic recipe adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
The day before:
Chill ice cream machine canister and the container you will be using to store the finished ice cream in freezer.
The next day:
3 cups raw goat’s milk
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup cajeta, softened (Note: If your cajeta is too thick to drizzle even when softened, you can stir in hot water to loosen it up. Start by adding a small amount of hot water, around 1/2 tablespoon, so you don’t thin it too much, and adjust as needed to reach a thinner consistency).
Parchment paper, cut to size to completely cover finished ice cream in container
Measure and pour the goat’s milk into a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and stir until mostly dissolved. Take the vanilla bean and cut open down the center with a small knife. Open up the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean into the saucepan with the milk and sugar. Whisk well to disperse the seeds.
Put egg yolks into a separate heat-proof bowl, and add remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Whisk together by hand or with a mixer until the eggs have lightened to a paler yellow color. Set aside.
Heat goat’s milk mixture over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise. Remove from heat. Take one cup of the milk mixture and add it to the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until smooth. Then take the egg yolk mixture and slowly add it to the remaining goat’s milk mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from heating too quickly and curdling. Return to heat and cook over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes to meld flavors.
Remove from the heat and pour into a metal bowl. Let cool slightly, then pour mixture into a blender and run on low speed for two minutes. This helps disperse the fat molecules evenly, since the raw goat’s milk is unhomogenized. You will repeat this process again once the mixture is completely chilled, just before placing in the ice cream maker.
Prepare an ice bath with lots of ice and water, using a larger metal bowl that the mixture in the smaller metal bowl can comfortably sit down in. Chill mixture for 30 minutes. Mixture will thicken slightly. Pour chilled mixture into blender again and run on low speed for 2 minutes. Transfer to ice cream maker and process for 25 to 30 minutes, or until ice cream is firm.
Remove chilled storage container from freezer. Scoop half of ice cream into container and spread to fill bottom. Drizzle half of softened cajeta over ice cream, evenly or in small clumps as you prefer. Scoop remaining half of ice cream into container, and spread to cover. Drizzle remaining half of cajeta as desired over the top. Take parchment paper and press gently over the top, compressing any extra air. Seal with lid and chill for a few hours. Scoop liberally when serving.
Makes about 1 quart of ice cream