Toasted Milk Ice Cream

toasted milk ice cream

If you’ve hung around here or my Instagram much, you’ll know I have a thing for toasted milk powder. It’s magical stuff, my secret weapon for injecting extra brown buttery, caramelly, hazelnutty flavor into baked goods.

If the concept is new to you, here’s a crash course. Milk powder is essentially a concentrated powder of milk solids, made by preheating, evaporating, and reheating milk. It’s a staple in my baking kit; I use it most often in my enriched sourdoughs to make extra tall and soft loaves (by increasing the protein and lactose without adding extra liquid).

I first came across the idea of toasting milk powder on Francisco Migoya’s old blog (sadly it’s no longer online), though have since read about it in older articles on other sites such as Ideas in Food. The concept is brilliant — by toasting milk powder, you’re able to add more of the tasty brown bits that give brown butter its flavor and aroma without adding additional fat or liquid! I do think toasted milk has its own unique taste, with hints of caramel and toasted nuts. It’s a special flavor that I’ve come to love, and am always thinking of new ways to include it in my bakes.

My latest obsession is this toasted milk ice cream. It truly is like no other ice cream flavor I’ve had, deceptively plain-looking but with an intriguingly rich flavor. I did tests with an added ripple of fudge and toyed with the idea of adding a milk jam or butterscotch swirl, but in the end I like it best on its own.

How to toast milk powder

I prefer to toast nonfat milk powder in either instant pot (pressure cooker) or the microwave for the most even and controlled results. (Please see my toasted milk banana cream pie post for instructions on those methods.) You can also toast milk powder as you would nuts, either in a dry saucepan on the stove, or in a single layer on a sheet pan in the oven at 325F, stirring often. Milk solids burn very easily, so either way make sure you stir often and keep an eye on it.

Note that I always use nonfat or skim milk powder as I only want to add the milk solids and not any additional fat to my recipes. While I have had readers say they’ve used toasted whole milk powder with success I personally have not tried it.

Chasing texture

I went through quite a few tests chasing the perfect texture for this ice cream. I knew from previous recipes that toasted milk powder doesn’t always dissolve easily in milk products. I suspect this is because it’s not fat-soluble; but TBH I’m still fuzzy on the exact reasons because I have had some cases where it dissolved easily. (Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact brand of milk powder I was using.) Depending on the application, this might not be a big deal. For example, in my banana cream pie I didn’t have a problem with it because of all the other textures involved in that dessert.

However, for this ice cream, I really wanted something silky smooth. I thought just grinding down the milk powder really finely and straining out any big bits would work, but unfortunately it wasn’t that simple. I tried an immersion blender, a regular blender, blending cold, blending hot, double straining, etc. While blending helped some, in the end I could still detect some little granules and it was bumming me out.

Milk powder as an infusion

What finally worked for me was to treat milk powder like an infusion: I first heated the dairy with the toasted milk powder, let it infuse in the fridge overnight, then strained and made sure it was grit-free before mixing up my ice cream base. A regular sieve was not effective in straining out all the particles, but a double layer of cheesecloth does the trick perfectly!

Other ingredients for custard ice cream

I opted for a custard ice cream because I wanted that rich, slightly chewy texture from an egg yolk base. Most of the ingredients are common and self-explanatory, but a couple warrant a little explanation:

  • Glucose or light corn syrup: Using an inverted sugar such as glucose or light corn syrup gives frozen desserts a more viscous, less icy texture. I almost always use it for a portion of the sweetener in my ice creams. Many people shy away from these products because they associate it with high fructose corn syrup. They are NOT the same thing; high fructose corn syrup is corn syrup that has been further treated to contain more fructose and is sweeter than regular corn syrup (or glucose). Check your local baking supply store or online for glucose; in my area corn syrup is available in most grocery stores. In a pinch you can replace the inverted sugar with the same weight of granulated sugar, though the ice cream will be more sweet and icy.
  • Xanthan gum: Don’t let the name scare you — xanthan gum is just a natural gum that in this case works as a stabilizer, inhibiting the growth of ice crystals. Just a tiny bit drastically improves the texture and shelf life of homemade ice cream. I found mine at the local grocery store and online. If you can’t find xanthan gum, you can replace it with 5g of tapioca starch whisked with 20g cold milk. Stir this slurry into the custard base after it reaches temperature, before straining.
toasted milk ice cream

Toasted Milk Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 16 hours
Total Time: 16 hours 50 minutes

A creamy custard ice cream infused with toasted milk powder for a caramelly, nutty, brown-buttery flavor.


For the infused dairy:

  • 440g whole milk
  • 330g heavy cream (35%), plus more as needed
  • 50g deeply toasted nonfat milk powder

For the toasted milk custard base

  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional but recommended for best texture)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 50g glucose or corn syrup
  • 100g egg yolks (about 5 large)
  • 700g infused dairy
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Infuse the dairy: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, and toasted milk powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently to prevent scorching, until steaming. Remove from heat, cover, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and allow to infuse for at least 12 but preferably 24 hours. (You can transfer to a smaller container, if needed.)
  2. Strain the dairy: When ready to cook the custard, strain and measure the infused dairy. Weigh the container or large measuring cup into which you will be straining the dairy. Place a fine mesh strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth over the container. Strain the dairy, then carefully gather up the sides of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the saturated milk powder solids to eke out as much of the infused dairy as you can without letting any solids pass through. Discard the milk powder solids.
  3. Weigh the dairy: Now weigh the container with the infused dairy. Subtract the weight of the empty container, which will tell you how much dairy you now have. Add additional cream if needed to total 700g.
  4. Make the custard base: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the glucose and egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Stream in the infused dairy and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, frequently stirring and scraping the pot with a flexible heat-resistant spatula, until the custard is hot to the touch and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (170-180F). Strain the custard into a heat-safe container and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Chill the custard base: Cover the container and refrigerate the custard until well-chilled. at least 4 hours. (If you're in a hurry, you can chill the custard over an ice bath.)
  6. Churn the custard base: Before churning, place a freezer-friendly container in your freezer (a loaf pan works well). Churn the chilled base according to the instructions for your machine, until the mixture has the texture of soft serve (for my machine this is about 20-25 minutes). 
  7. Freeze the ice cream: Transfer ice cream to the chilled container. Cover with parchment paper, pressing it against the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. Freeze until firm and scoopable. Ice cream will keep for up to 3 months, but good luck with that.  

    Related recipes:

    Meyer Lemon Custard Bars with Poppyseed Crust

    The idea for these meyer lemon custard bars have been bouncing around in my head for a year, or since the last time meyer lemons were in season and readily available in the supermarket. I’m game for good lemon desserts anytime; but they’re especially welcome in January as a foil for the warm spices and heavy flavors many of us enjoy in the months prior. The cheerful color helps too.

    These particular bars straddle the line between classic American style lemon bars and a British style lemon tart, with the ease and portability of the former and the mellow creaminess of the latter. Tastewise, this is not a face-puckering lemon bar. If you think of the difference between sorbet and ice cream, these bars are like ice cream. Cream mutes the lemon flavor but also helps it linger on the palate. Still, I’ve tried to bump up the lemon flavor as much as possible by infusing the cream with lemon zest and adding some to the crust as well.

    I used meyer lemons as they’re a January treat around here, less acidic than regular lemons with a gentle floral note. (They’re thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.) But if you can’t find meyer lemons in your area, regular lemons will work here too.

    meyer lemon custard bars

    Baker’s notes:

    • For a silky smooth, glassy custard, remove all the air bubbles before placing it in the oven. After straining the custard, I like to bounce a spoon across the surface. This helps any bubbles lurking within the custard rise up to the surface and eventually pop. Keep bouncing until you don’t see any bubbles coming up anymore. You can also wave kitchen torch across the top to pop any stubborn bubbles.
    • Don’t overbake the custard! Overbaking can lead to cracks and an unpleasant finished texture. Turn off the oven when there’s still a good wobble in the center and let the bars cool down slowly with the oven door cracked open. It will continue to set as it cools.
    • Taste your poppyseeds and make sure they are fresh! Nothing ruins a bake like rancid seeds and poppyseeds spoil especially quickly. I store mine in the freezer.

    Related recipes:

    meyer lemon custard bars

    Meyer Lemon Custard Bars

    Yield: 16 2-inch bars
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 50 minutes
    Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

    A silky lemon custard on a poppy seed shortbread base, these simple yet elegant meyer lemon custard bars are a cross between American-style lemon bars and a British lemon tart.


    For the infused meyer lemon cream:

    • Zest of one meyer lemon
    • 150g heavy cream (35%)

    For the poppyseed crust:

    • Zest of one meyer lemon (reserve juice for custard)
    • 50g granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 Tbsp (10g) poppyseeds
    • 142g all-purpose flour (I used half emmer, half all-purpose)*
    • 113g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten, for egg wash (reserve yolk for filling)

    For the meyer lemon custard filling:

    • Zest of 1 meyer lemon
    • 175g granulated sugar
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 5 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
    • 150g meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed (from about 3 medium meyer lemons -- zest them before juicing!)
    • All of the infused cream


    1. Prep the oven and pan: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with two criss-crossed pieces of parchment, leaving 2-3 inches of overhang on at least two of the sides for easy removal.
    2. Infuse the cream: Place the zest of one meyer lemon in a small saucepan and add the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Warm the cream over medium-low heat until steaming, then remove from the heat and cover the pot. Allow the cream to infuse while you prepare the crust.
    3. Make the poppyseed crust: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and the zest of one meyer lemon. Rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant and damp to release the essential oils from the rind, which will intensify the lemon flavor. Whisk in the salt, poppyseeds, and flour until well combined.
    4. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a fork until no spots of dry flour remain. Scatter dough across the base of the prepared pan and use your fingers or a flat bottomed cup to press into an even layer.
    5. Bake the crust: Bake the crust until dry and golden, 20-25 minutes. Brush a layer of egg white over the crust to help water-proof it, then cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.
    6. Make the custard: Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl or large measuring jug with a spout (such as a 4-cup Pyrex).
    7. In a medium saucepan, combine the zest of one meyer lemon and granulated sugar. As you did with the crust, rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant and damp to release the essential oils from the rind. Whisk in the salt, followed by the eggs and egg yolk. Whisk in the lemon juice and the infused cream (no need to strain out the zest right now).
    8. Cook the custard mixture over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the pan frequently with a heat-resistent spatula, until it registers 160F on a digital thermometer. Strain the custard into the prepared measuring jug. Discard the zest.
    9. Bounce the back of a spoon across the top of the custard to pop any air bubbles. Pour the custard into the pan. If any bubbles remain on the surface of the custard, skim them off with a spoon.
    10. Bake the bars: Bake until the edges of the custard are set but the center still wobbles, about 20-30 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door with a wooden spoon. Let the bars cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely to room temperature. Chill the bars in the refrigerator for another 1-2 hours for easiest slicing.
    11. Slice and serve: Use a sharp knife to slice bars into desired size (I usually do a 4x4 grid for a total of 16 bars), wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Bars are best enjoyed the day they're baked, but can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days. The crust will soften over time.


    *I used half emmer flour, half all purpose for a little extra flavor and nutrition. This crust is very forgiving; you can try substituting another whole grain flour such as spelt or whole wheat, or just use all-purpose.