Thursday, July 24, 2008

Honey vanilla goat-milk ice cream

When I made ricotta the other day, I had exactly 3 cups of milk left. As it happened, that was just the amount called for in this ice cream recipe I found online, in a discussion on ice cream texture. I love vanilla and honey, so why not?
Here's what I needed (with my modifications added):
3 cups goat milk
2 whole vanilla beans (I used one)
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup honey (but half a cup would be sufficient)

You gently heat your milk with the scraped vanilla pods in it. I thought two pods would be overkill, so I only used one. Then you add your honey. This is a good way to use honey that has solidified; you can nuke it or warm it in hot tap water just enough to get it out of the container, and it will melt the rest of the way in the milk.

While the milk is heating, beat your eggs yolks. The recipe says "until smooth and lemon colored." I pulled out a lemon ... yep, it's lemony!
When the milk and honey are nice and hot, almost simmering (but not boiling!), you remove the vanilla pod(s) and gently pour the milk into the yolks, whisking as you do so.

Now, this recipe was focused on super-smooth texture, so it suggests sieving the milk before you add the honey and again after you mix the milk and yolks. I may try that later, but it didn't seem critical, so I skipped it this time.

You chill the liquid for at least an hour or two (or, in my case, overnight), then "prepare it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions."

Here's a hint: If you take the ice cream maker liner out of the freezer, process the ice cream immediately. Don't leave the liner sitting on the counter while you do something else, or it will thaw out so much that your ice cream doesn't completely gel. It will be more the consistency of a melty milkshake, like this:
All is not lost, however. Just pack your melty milkshake into an airtight container and freeze it for several hours (or overnight, as in my case. Do you sense a pattern in my cooking here?). Since it's already mostly frozen, it will harden up nicely without needing more stirring and will be scoopable (and more photogenic, accessorized with my handmade bee skep):
But how does it taste? you ask. How does it compare with store-bought ice cream? Well, thanks to Katy at Sugarlaws, I was in the position to do the perfect taste-test: homemade honey-vanilla goat-milk ice cream vs. Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Honey-Bee ice cream.

Häagen-Dazs had sent Katy some gift certificates to give away, and I won one! Thanks, Katy!
I hung onto it for a while (I kept forgetting it was in my purse when I did my infrequent Safeway shopping – I don't often buy ice cream), until this perfect occasion arose. Häagen-Dazs, meet your match!
My ice cream is just a little yellower, and has visible vanilla seeds. The texture is also a little lighter and more crystallized, as you would expect. Strictly speaking, I made ice milk rather than ice cream. The Häagen-Dazs is mostly cream, hence creamier.
And the taste? Remarkably similar ... and delicious! The honey is much more pronounced in mine, presumably because there is a higher proportion of it (the Häagen-Dazs has honey plus sugar), leaving a noticeable honey aftertaste. I used just under 3/4 cup, and I think I could cut that to half a cup or even less to bring out the vanilla more. My local, raw honey may also be stronger. Or I could use two vanilla pods, but less is more, in my book.

The creaminess of the Häagen-Dazs is nice, but frankly I preferred the lighter mouth-feel of the ice milk. I can see how sieving it might make it even smoother, since you're removing air bubbles and cutting the crystallization factor.

Cost-wise, the Häagen-Dazs is $4.49 for a pint, which is two cups. My recipe made three cups, using free milk, about $2 worth of honey (I used the pricey, local beekeeper stuff), one vanilla pod (also free, courtesy of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen. Thanks, Jaden!), and four egg yolks. Whatever that costs; I haven't had enough coffee yet to do math. Plus I can use the whites in something else. So mine is much cheaper.

Sooooo, I'd say that while the Häagen-Dazs is creamy and yummy, and you should certainly try it (save the bees!), you can't go wrong making your own at home. It's equally delicious!

P.S. My goat-milk supplier has more shares available now, so if you're in Denver, particularly on the south side, email me if you're interested.

Other recently tested goat-milk recipes:
lacto-fermented sauerkraut (with an update)
Mexican chocolate pudding
Raspberry ice cream
ricotta cheese
And an excellent use for the ricotta:
ricotta torte with squash, corn and dill


  1. "So mine is much cheaper."

    Uhhmmm, except for the two days it took to make!

  2. Ha! It didn't take two whole days! More like 20 minutes prep, and another 20 minutes of intermittent ice-cream machine handle-turning.

    The problem is that I often start cooking projects late at night or late in the morning, so if the recipe requires some chill time, it ends up getting that overnight.

  3. You could always add some fish gene antifreeze for the creaminess factor. Yum. :O

  4. Yuck! Pass.

    Fankhauser is a great resource. I've spent a lot of time on his cheese page.

  5. Ice cream! Unusual ice cream!! Unusual home-made ice cream!!!

    I continue to be impressed by your kitchen prowess, your camera prowess, your canine companions and your endless curiosity about increasing your culinary skills.

    Claire @

  6. Thanks, Claire!

    Risa, do you want a goat share?

  7. Double-yuck is what I think. What'll the frankenfoodies think of next? All the more reason to make homemade - better all the way around. I need to try gelato - who has a good recipe?

  8. I haven't researched gelato recipes yet, but I guess I could have called this recipe gelato, since it's made with milk.

  9. Vanilla and honey sounds like a great flavour for ice cream!

  10. Thanks for posting this, I am newly converted to goat milk because I have developed a cows milk allergy, and this is just what I was looking for. Easy & delicious! Thanks again!

  11. Glad to help, Mandy! Let me know how yours turns out.

  12. Thank you for this post! My kids had so much fun with this! We milked our new goat, went to the chicken house for eggs, and used 1/2 cup of the local raw honey like you suggested. We did use 2 tsp. vanilla extract rather than the pod, but it's still soooo good and so easy to make! The hardest part is waiting for it to be done churning! :)

  13. Three cups (I say so in the post, but it's a little buried).