Mexican chocolate ice cream with cajeta swirl

I had all this cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) left over from my chocoflan experiment. It sat in my fridge for a couple of weeks, taunting me. I knew that it was so lovely that it deserved to be in something really special, and since it was so delicious (but sweet!) in its pure form, I thought it would complement the spiciness of a Mexican chocolate ice cream really beautifully.

My go-to tome for ice cream recipes is David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, but I much prefer the richness of a custard-based ice cream rather than what’s called “Philadelphia-style” ice cream, which doesn’t contain an egg-yolk custard base, only milk and heavy cream. Although Lebovitz’s book has a recipe for an Aztec “Hot” Chocolate Ice Cream, it was Philly style, so I decided to combine his Chocolate ice cream recipe with some of the spices in the Aztec recipe.

Jess and I received a lovely set of spices as a wedding gift, and there were two different kinds of cinnamon inside. One, which is a China Tung Hing Cinnamon, has a much more spicy, snappy scent, while the Ceylon Cinnamon that I chose for this ice cream has a more deep, smoky, spicy scent. Spices have so many nuances, and it’s great if you have the ability to choose between them.

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream with Cajeta swirl

2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

3/4 cup cajeta

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Whisk it thoroughly, combining the cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat and simmer on a very low boil for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks. Whisk constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the cinnamon and chipotle powder to the mixture, stirring well. Pour the mixture through the strainer again, and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove the ice cream from the maker and place in a shallow container. As you’re doing so, alternate between layers of ice cream and cajeta so that you have areas of super caramelly goodness in between layers of spicy chocolate.

This ice cream is no joke. It’s really rich and chocolatey, with a layer of spice that builds as you eat it.

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