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Oaxacan Holiday Menu: Leche Quemada Ice Cream & Pomegranate Sorbet

leche quemada ice cream

What’s a meal without dessert? To finish off our Oaxacan Holiday Menu we wanted to leave you with something sweet on the tongue.

Leche quemada ice cream translates to burnt milk, because you literally burn the milk in the process of making it. This imparts a smoky flavor, which is a very distinct, and perhaps acquired, taste. We were a teensy bit squeamish about actually burning the milk so the predominant flavor turned out to be cinnamon, which is delicious. If you want the classic leche quemada smoky flavor don’t be afraid  to let the milk burn the bottom of the pot.

The traditional pairing with leche quemada ice cream is a sorbet made of prickly pair, the fruit of a cactus commonly found in southern Mexico. Because prickly pair turned out to be hard to come by in December in Seattle, we opted for pomegranate, which has similarly tart and sweet fruit flavor. The creamy, smoky cinnamon ice cream with the high notes of a refreshing fruity sorbet is a flavor combination not to be missed.

Photographs and Styling by Sasha Swerdloff of the Tending the Table Blog with support from Hannah Aronowitz.


Leche Quemada Ice Cream

Adapted from De La Tierra.

Makes 1 quart



4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup sugar, divided

1 tablespoon water

4 egg yolks



Combine the milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to just under a boil. Remove from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and ¾ cups of the sugar.

In a separate pot combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water and set over medium heat. Allow the sugar to liquefy and bubble until it turns golden brown. Quickly add the milk mixture to the sugar and stir until the caramel has dissolved.

Boil the milk and sugar mixture on high. It will begin to boil over. Just remove it from the heat briefly until the foam subsides then return it to the heat. Once it smells of burnt sugar and milk remove the pot from the heat.

Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the custard to the pot and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the custard coats the back of a spoon.

Allow the mixture to cool completely then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

leche quemada


Pomagranate Sorbet

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop cookbook.

Makes 1 quart



4 cups pomegranate juice

¾ cup sugar

 1 pomegranate for garnish 



Dissolve ½ cup of the pomegranate juice with the sugar in a medium pot over medium heat.

Once the sugar has dissolved add the remaining juice and chill completely before freezing in your ice cream maker.


Serve separate or together, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

leche quemada ice cream

The post Oaxacan Holiday Menu: Leche Quemada Ice Cream & Pomegranate Sorbet appeared first on Manos Zapotecas.

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