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A friend recently sent me a link to an ice cream recipe that used cornstarch, rather than eggs, as a binder and thickener. That prompted me to think (and write him back) about an ice cream-making technique I learned about when writing The Perfect Scoop. Talking to Faith Willinger, an expert on Italian cuisine, she told me that some Italian ice creams (namely in Sicily) are thickened with starch rather than eggs, because it was so hot in the summer, that people in the south of Italy didn’t want to the richness of egg yolks in their gelato.

I pointed out to my friend that I’d written about starch-thickened before the article he sent me had appeared, but I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea, and am happy to give the fine folks of Italy, who’ve perfected the art of making ice cream and gelato, full credit for teaching me about the technique. (Although I should add that there are starch-based ice creams from other countries, such as stretchy booza, made with mastic, and salep-thickened ice cream, called dondurma.)

In France, ice cream like this is often called Fleur de Lait, or Fior di Latte in Italian, which means “flower” of milk, showcasing high-quality milk used to make it. We often don’t think of the quality of milk; it’s just something we buy in a carton or jug at the supermarket. But good-quality milk has a nutty sweetness, and not adding eggs to it when making ice cream helps keeps that milky flavor in the forefront.

Sometimes people tell me they can’t eat eggs, or can’t digest cow’s milk. I’m one of those people that had trouble with cow’s milk growing up, and used to live near a goat dairy. So I routinely got milk (and ice cream) from them, which were both delicious. I still love the faint tang in goat milk, which is especially nice when churned into ice cream.

This one has no cream or egg yolks, so it is lower in fat, for those concerned about keeping tabs on that. (Although the swirl of cajeta inside, and on top, kind of makes that point moot. But you can omit it.) I add a little fresh goat cheese to the base to dial up the goaty tang of the ice cream, but it’ll be a little firmer to scoop than traditional ice cream since it doesn’t have cream or egg yolks. You can check out some of my strategies for keeping homemade ice cream soft, or you can take it out of the freezer 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Or, you can eat it all as soon as you’ve finished churning it, which I nearly did after licking the dasher just after I pulled it out of the machine (churner’s bonus!) and found it hard to stop.

Goat Milk Ice Cream with Cajeta Swirl

You can buy cajeta online or find it in well-stocked grocery stores. Dulce de leche (or confiture de lait, as it's known in France) is made with cow's milk, and is a delicious substitute. You can make your own Dulce de leche as well. When layering the cajeta in the just-churned ice cream, it should be pourable; about the consistency of ketchup. Warm it gently by putting the jar in a small saucepan of warm water or in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just until it's pourable. Let it cool to room temperature, stirring, before layering it with the ice cream. I haven't made this with any of the non-dairy "milks" out there (such as almond, soy, rice, or oat) but if you do try it, let me know how it turns out in the comments.
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 1/4 cups (560ml) goat milk
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup, or Golden Syrup or 3 additional tablespoons granulated
  • pinch salt
  • 4 ounces (115g) fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (500ml) cajeta or dulce de leche, plus additional for serving, if desired
  • In a small bowl, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with 1/4 cup (60ml) of cold goat milk until it's completely dissolved.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the remaining goat milk, with the sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and the cornstarch slurry. Simmer the mixture, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the goat cheese and vanilla extract, until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate until completely cool, which'll take at about 8 hours, or overnight. (To hasten it, you can whisk the mixture a few times while it's cooling.)
  • When ready to churn the ice cream, if the mixture has become too thick to pour into the machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out first. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place whatever storage container you're using in the freezer and pour some of the cajeta in the bottom. (Because no one wants to get to the bottom of the container and find out there isn't any more cajeta!)
  • Add a layer of the just-churned ice cream into the chilled container, spooning blobs and/or thick streaks of cajeta as you layer in the ice cream. Avoid the temptation to stir or swirl the cajeta in, which will only make it muddy. Continue layering, alternating with layers of ice cream and cajeta. When done, freeze thoroughly before scooping and serving.


Serving: Serve in bowls. You can garnish scoops of the ice cream with additional cajeta, if you wish.

Related Links

Vanilla Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream

Mint Chip Ice Cream

No Churn, Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream

How to Make Ice Cream Without a Machine

Buying an Ice Cream Machine



    • Michael Quear

    I’ve been experimenting with using a cornstarch thickened ice cream base for a coupla years. I often use sweetened condensed milk as the sweetener. Sometimes I use egg yolks and cornstarch which does alter texture/taste, but you don’t have to worry about your custard curdling. Adding goat cheese along with goat milk is brilliant! Thanx

    • Taste of France

    I just made Yotam Ottolenghi’s fondue-quiche recipe in the NYT, and it used cornstarch, which surprised me. Very good, BTW.
    We have a market stand that offers unpasteurized goat milk, fresh from the farm. Another stand, in summer, has goat-milk ice cream, with that tangy flavor you mention, that’s quite nice.

    • Cyndy

    This sounds like a plan. I have never liked custard, and can taste the egginess in custard-based ice creams I love your Perfect Scoop recipes but convert them into Philadelphia style. And I like ice cream to be on the hard side

    I will now try cornstarch and goat milk. And I’m off to look up Ottolenghi’s fondue-quiche recipe mentioned above.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Taste of France: I thought fondue usually had cornstarch in it, to bind the cheese. (Which tends to separate when heated.) But his fondue tart looks good! Lucky you that you can get fresh goat milk. We have a hard time finding it in Paris. Most of ultra-pasteurized, but you can find it fresh sometimes.

    Cyndy: I prefer eggless bases for fruit-flavored ice creams, which is why I sometimes use sour cream in some of the recipes in The Perfect Scoop that have no eggs; it gives some body and richness, but doesn’t detract from the fruit or berry flavors.

      • Nath

      Hello David,
      One way to find raw goat milk is, when at the market if there is an artisan goat cheese maker, to ask them nicely if they can bring you some milk (you can supply the container :)). I’ve done this to make goat milk yogurt. Delicious.

      • Joseph O’Byrne

      Not being a milk lover, I wasn’t sure about this recipe,yet something about adding fresh chèvre sounded very tantalizing. I do love cheese after all. What a treat this is. The tanginess of the goat milk and chèvre combined with the sweet unctuousness of the cajeta (something new to me); we were bowled over. It pairs very well with the fresh cuisine of the Pacific Northwest. And the idea of doing ice cream with a corn starch base, a revelation. Thank you David, this is a keeper.

    • Gavrielle

    Yum! I had to laugh at your mentioning licking the dasher – I work from home which means I can mix cookery with work, and in the interests of keeping my girlish figure, when making ice cream I have to call my business partner who comes galloping through the house to lick the dasher. (I get the last scrapings from the bowl though!)

    • c

    Just curious. Have you ever tasted or made camel milk based ice cream?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      No, we don’t get camel milk in Paris :) But we do get horse milk, although it’s around €12 a quart, so not super cost-effective (!)

    • Jennie

    I once made an all-goat cheesecake using chevre for the cheese, goat butter in the graham-cracker crust, and a cajeta swirl. It was delish but had some texture issues because i was winging it. I might do this with goat butter/graham-cracker-crust sprinkles for texture.

    • Leslie B.

    David, we love your ice creams and enjoy licking the dasher too! I know you’re aware of Jeni’s Ice Cream which also uses cornstarch along with some cream cheese to stabilize her eggless ice cream. It’s another favorite when eggless is required. I’m going to get some goat’s milk later to make your recipe. Sound delish.

    • Parisbreakfast

    I had sheeps milk ice cream from l’Aveyron at the salon de l’Agriculture, but not goat’s. I will check next march. Any ideas where to find Cajeta? I thought it was Mexican..this looks gorgeous.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      They used to sell it at La Cocotte on the rue Paul Bert, but they’re closed. Am not sure where to find it how, unless you buy it online or make your own.

    • Mark

    In the past many Sicilian gelaterie used farina di carruba as the thickener for their gelato, but today corn starch is much less expensive and easier to purchase. Gelaterie use this in place of the more traditional farina di carruba which I felt was better tasting and healthier than corn starch.

    • Peter Longenecker

    Neither Jeni’s Ice Cream out of Columbus Ohio or any of the recipes in her ice cream book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, nor the Gramercy Tavern in NYC use eggs in their ice creams. Jeni uses corn starch and cream cheese. Her recipes are fool proof — I’ve made at least 15 of them. I’m in Paris right now, so I don’t have access to the Gramercy book.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      In The Last Course (which is being re-released next month!) Claudia does use egg yolks in her recipes. (She uses quite a bit, actually – 12 yolks per quart!) Jeni doesn’t, but you’re right that she uses a variety of ingredients, such as cream cheese, evaporated milk and corn syrup. (I made her chocolate ice cream recipe, which was very good.) Her objective is to get rid of ice crystals, as that’s her style of ice cream.

    • Devereux

    Cajeta and goats milk reminded me of some the interesting ice creams that you find in Mexico. My first time at an ice cream stand in Oaxaca I was totally bewildered by the names, when a lovely customer decided to educate me. In the end I decided to have what she was eating, a popular local combination tuna/leche quemada. Tuna is cactus fruit and leche quemada is scorched milk. The tuna was delicious & a beautiful rosy red with black flecks the leche quemada is an acquired taste!

    • Beverly Burgoyne

    Do you have a recipe for cajeta? I searched your recipes and couldn’t find one.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t but there’s a recipe for dulce de leche on the blog that uses sweetened condensed milk, but there’s a recipe in The Perfect Scoop (pg 188) for one that uses fresh, whole milk – which can be made with goat milk.

    • Sue R

    This sounds amazing! I once got hold of many litres of buffalo milk from a farm in Far North Queensland. I made the most amazing ice cream with it plus other things. I must try it with goats milk. I often make a fresh goats milk curd cheese. My son eats the lot before I have a chance to use it for anything :)

    • PF

    Fresh goat’s milk can be hard to find in the US and I wonder how Meyenberg whole powdered goat’s milk would work– it’s easily available online. As with powdered cow’s milk, one can boost the taste by adding less water. (Asking for a friend, of course)

    • Susan

    I feel so fortunate to live in the SF Bay Area with weekly access to raw goats milk with which I make various types of raw fresh and mold-ripened (and sometimes cendre cheeses) for home use. I just returned from Provence (Cote D’Azur, Luberon and Alpilles regions) and I’m still in cheese, fig, bread and rose withdrawal.

    Off topic from goats — David, I stayed at the exquisite Chateau Saint Martin in Vence on the last night, so I dined at their Le Saint Martin* out of pure ease and convenience, and it was very good. But I had actually wanted to go to Les Bacchanales, as I’ve heard such great things. I just read your write-up about them and it reminded me to add it to my list for next time near Nice. Throughout our trip we enjoyed a few outstanding bistros sprinkled in different locations. But one of the most outstanding meals during our 3-week visit was at Le Figuier de Saint Esprit. They’ve been around for over a decade, so you’ve probably been there, but if not, definitely worth a visit IMO. Probably the most perfectly cooked fish that I’ve ever eaten. Every morsel of food was perfectly prepared and presented, and while beautiful, unfussy enough so that you knew what you were eating and it honored the food, not the chef! The wife/husband (chef) are absolutely warm and delightful too.

    And ok, what IS it about those Provencal figs?! I could eat them plain all day…ok, maybe with a little goat cheese too…

      • Susan

      Oh, and this Le Figuier is in Antibes facing the water, a few blocks from the Picasso museum. I meant to mention that it’s a Michelin* and I’ve been told that the chef is actually quite famous.

    • Kat

    I used to be so scared to cook other than the way I was raised, with everything very precisely measured out. Now that I have a farm, things have changed. Grab a bowl, pour in some goat milk, maybe throw in an egg or four (or yolks or whites left- over from another project), drizzle in some honey, maybe a bit of mushed up fruit that needs used up? Whatever. Toss it in the maker. It’s always good!
    I credit you with teaching me how to go with the flow, relax, and enjoy the process. Thank you!
    PS Still dreaming about those caramel marshmallows you haven’t posted a recipe for…yet!


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