This Oaxacan speciality has a fascinating balance of smokiness and sweetness, somewhat like a crème brûlée. The simplicity of the recipe demands the best quality vanilla is used to round out the bitter flavours produced by the caramelised sugar, creating an exquisite and lingering finish on the palate.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (15 votes)


  • 800 ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • large pinch of salt
  • 220 g (1 cup) raw caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • grated Mexican or dark chocolate, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 1 litre

Chilling/freezing time 5 hours

Gently heat the milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan until it just comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 20 mins. Remove the cinnamon stick. Have the warmed milk close to hand when you begin the next step.

Place half the sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar beings to melt, then shake the pan to ensure the sugar is melting evenly. Continue to cook for a further 2–3 minutes until the sugar turns a molten tar colour. Pay particular attention here, as the sugar can burn very quickly (the caramel should smell smoky but not burnt). Quickly add the milk being careful as the mixture will hiss and spit. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the caramel dissolves completely. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Whisk in the hot caramel milk until combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches 82˚C or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl placed over a bowl of ice. Allow to cool, stirring regularly for 15 minutes then refrigerate until chilled, 2–3 hours.

Transfer the caramel crème anglaise to your ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Return to the freezer for 1–2 hours until firm enough to scoop.

Serve with grated chocolate.


Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Table by Ici et La.