A wonderfully festive, and easy-to-make dessert, this layered ice cream cake featuring creamy goat milk ice cream, naturally sweetened cranberry curd, and a nutty biscotti layer, is most definitely one for the books.
I’m not joking when I say this might be one of my all-time favorite recipes. It has it all—tart, sweet, a touch salty, creamy, and even crunchy. This ice cream cake is easy to make, stunning to serve, and packed with interesting, yet familiar flavors.
Around our house, Christmas Eve dinner is usually the same every year, Pork Wellington, stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto and puff pastry. It’s our go-to dish every year partially because it’s special and elegant, but mostly because Mom has perfected it and it’s absolutely delightful.
Apart from the side dishes, dessert is where we tend to mix things up. Some years it’s a fantastic pavlova from a neighbor who’s more like family, my sister’s olive oil cake, or a seasonal fruit tart. And there’s always a cookie tree filed to the brim with various cookies and chocolate-covered treats. Always. And yes, it’s a tree. Like a 3-foot tree that stands on the counter with 4 “shelves”, made by my grandfather, purely for loading up with cookies. What a guy. And what an idea. Everyone’s happy when there’s a treeful of cookies to be had.
Not to steal the show from the cookie tree, but this Goat Milk Ice Cream Cake, with its vibrant layers, just might give the tree a run for its money. Even better, each of the layers can be made a few days ahead of time, then assembly can take place briefly throughout the day. And when it comes to the holidays, anything that can be done in small increments—and result in something this gorgeous—is most definitely a win in my book.
This dessert is the result of a collaborative phone call with my sister. I developed the recipe for the cranberry curd simply out of curiosity, and wanted to put it to good use, but not in the usual curd ways. Fifteen minutes on the phone and a few ideas passed back and forth, we came up with a layered ice cream cake featuring goat milk (or cheese) ice cream, a crunchy layer of sorts flavored with an herb, and of course the cranberry curd. The result—a stunning and satisfying collection of flavors and textures that are simply divine.
Goat Milk Ice Cream:
⅔ cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 can condensed goat milk (12 ounces)
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
Almond Biscotti Layer:
1 box almond biscotti (6 ounces)
1 cup whole raw almonds, toasted (5 ounces)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 recipe Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Curd
For the ice cream layer:
Heat cream, milk, goat milk, honey, dry milk, salt, and thyme sprigs in a saucepan over medium-low until just simmering. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks together in a large bowl. Remove milk mixture from heat, and slowly pour into yolks, whisking constantly.
Add mixture back to saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and coats back of a wooden spoon, 5–7 minutes. Remove custard from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard thyme sprigs and stir in vanilla bean paste.
Cover custard and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Transfer custard to bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (should look like soft serve ice cream). Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until ready to use.
For the biscotti layer:
Process biscotti in food processor until finely ground (should yield 1½ cups) transfer to a bowl.
Process almonds and 2 teaspoons thyme in now empty food processor until almonds are finely ground and oil just starts to release. Add ground biscotti back to processor.
Melt butter and honey together in a microwave safe bowl. With food processor running, stream in butter and honey and process until combined; transfer to a bowl until ready to use.
Line an 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Spread a third of the ice cream evenly in bottom of pan. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Spread half of the cranberry curd evenly over ice cream and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Sprinkle half of the biscotti mixture evenly over curd and lightly press to compact, freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Spread remaining cranberry curd evenly over biscotti layer and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Sprinkle remaining biscotti mixture evenly over curd and lightly press to compact, freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread remaining ice cream evenly over biscotti layer, cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
When ready to serve, invert pan onto serving platter and remove plastic wrap.
Notes: for easy spreading, bring ice cream out of freezer about 5 minutes prior to layering.
Nonfat Dry Milk: using nonfat dry milk in ice cream is a bit unconventional, but give it a try. Here, it helps absorb excess water which prevents ice crystals from forming, it also helps bond ingredients together, which all contributes to a creamy ice cream.
A note on time: prep time has been calculated to reflect total chilling times.