It's been a while since I've raved about my obsession with cajeta, a goat's-milk variation on dulce de leche, so it's high time I brought the subject up once more. For those of you not already familiar with this Mexican delicacy, both cajeta and dulce de leche are butterscotch-y confections made by reducing milk on the stovetop until it concentrates into a thick, caramel-like sauce.
"Like," because no actual caramelization is involved. Rather, the toasty/nutty/malty flavors derive from the Maillard browning of lactose and amino acids—the same process responsible for the unique flavor of toffee. Thanks to the specific cocktail of amino acids found in goat's milk, cajeta tastes more complex and robust than dulce de leche. (You can read more about their differences in my article on the subject.)
That potency means it stands up to dilution particularly well, making a 13-ounce cup of cajeta the ideal base for a quart of ice cream. Because cajeta reduces a quart of goat's milk down to a measly six ounces (the rest of its weight and volume are made up of sugar), it packs enough protein to churn up silky-smooth without the addition of any egg yolks to combat ice crystals.
Nor does it require any added sugar. Just thin down a batch of cajeta with milk and cream, refrigerate until it's perfectly cold, and you're ready to churn.
As with milk chocolate, the addition of fresh dairy mellows cajeta's intensity, bringing some of its subtler flavors to the fore, particularly those of toffee and vanilla. Not to get all sommelier about it, but it also brings out an earthy/fruity quality that reminds me of a Medjool date.
Following the example set forth by Xzibit, I heard you like cajeta on your cajeta, so I put extra cajeta on your cajeta in the form of sauce and chantilly. Yes, I know; it wouldn't be a BraveTart dessert without some sort of flavored whipped cream. To that end, just combine one part chilled cajeta and two parts heavy cream by weight, and whip to whatever consistency you prefer.
Like caramel, cajeta has an affinity for salty pairings, like crunchy peanuts and pretzels or even crispy bacon. But, since the ice cream itself is fairly rich, I keep things simple with a handful of generously salted popcorn. Not that an ice cream this good needs to be dressed up; it's just that there's something special about a full-blown sundae. Especially if you plan on sharing it with friends.*
* Full disclosure: I did not share it with friends. I am holding both spoons. This is the sort of ice cream you'll want to hoard.
Whether you intend to be generous or greedy, this eggless ice cream is the perfect finale to any summer meal—particularly one with a south-of-the-border vibe.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.