vanilla ice cream with cajeta swirls and Mexican chocolate chunks

cajetadulce de lecheice cream

Vanilla Ice Cream with Cajeta Swirls & Mexican Chocolate Chunks

Pancho Villa, one of the most renowned generals from the Mexican Revolution was wild about ice cream. It is even said he was most fond of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate. This historic photo, published in the El Paso Times, shows him sitting at the famous El Paso confectionery The Elite, right after having an ice cream.

Pancho Villa at Elite Confectionary

History has judged him both harshly and heroically. Yet, from the account of my husband’s great grandmother Regina, he was a true gentleman.

The true story goes that in the early years of the Revolution, around 1913, Regina and her husband Alfredo lived in Parral, Chihuahua. In the midst of the Revolution, a very brave and very pregnant Regina asked for una audienca, a meeting, with the general who was governor of Chihuahua. She walked into the meeting to ask for the general’s troops not to loot their family’s small store, one of the common ways the troops re-stocked.

General Villa agreed and allowed Regina to close the store so it would not be looted, securing their family’s means of survival. “A true gentleman,” the family, all of whom couldn’t believe Regina had not only asked for an audience but gone to the meeting and reached such outcome, recalls her saying.

Pati's three boys Sami, Juju, and Alan

A few years ago we visited Pancho Villa’s house in Chihuahua. There behind the boys, with an evidently saddened Sami after hearing the story of Villa’s assassination, is the car where he was shot.

The house has a central open courtyard. One of the main sides leads to the dining room…

Pancho Villa's dining room

…which opens directly to the kitchen…

Pancho Villa's Kitchen

As a visitor you can’t walk into the kitchen, so you can only see from the side door. Of course, I was dying to walk in, but I am sharing the best view that I got. That was it, because there was a rope one couldn’t cross.

Pancho Villa's Kitchen

I think it can be said that just like Pancho Villa – whose image, from a gorgeous al fresco hung inside his home, is here courtesy of my husband’s camera – most Mexicans are wild about ice cream.

Pancho Villa

Juju, with his big sweet tooth, is crazy about it too.

Juju eating ice cream

As Mexicans, we have our ways of making ice cream irresistible and exotic. We are fortunate to have some ingredients that just go nuts when turned into ice cream.

Some of my favorite: Mexican vanilla, Mexican chocolate and cajeta or dulce de leche. This summer, I decided to make a wild combo out of the three and was thrilled with the results. So much so, I think you should give it a go (my photo of the ice cream above has the ice cream desperately melting, waiting for me to get a good shot…).

It has the creamy vanilla base, the silky thick feel and charming taste of  cajeta (which becomes delightfully chewy when frozen), and grainy chunks of cinnamon flavored Mexican chocolate.

I think Pancho Villa would approve, with ingredients that are Mexican to the core.

vanilla ice cream with cajeta swirls and Mexican chocolate chunks

Vanilla Ice Cream with Dulce de Leche (aka Cajeta) Swirls and Mexican Chocolate Chunks

Helado de Vainilla con Cajeta y Chocolate Mexicano

Recipe Yield

6 servings

Cooking time

12 hours 40 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 1 vote


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean split open, seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Cajeta or dulce de leche
  • 2 Mexican chocolate rounds about 3.15 ounces or 90 grams each, coarsely chopped

To Prepare

  • Pour the heavy cream and milk in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean, seeds from the vanilla bean and salt; stir and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a simmer, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat immediately after it reaches a simmer, cover and let rest of at least 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using a whisk or fork, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix turns from bright to pale yellow, it thickens and loses its graininess. It will take a couple minutes.
  • Uncover the milk mixture, remove the vanilla bean, pressing any remaining seeds into the milk. Discard the bean. Slowly, using a ladle, pour half the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking as you go to temper the egg yolks.
  • Pour the tempered egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mix. Set over medium heat again, and let it come to a gentle simmer, constantly stirring, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly, stirring now and then.
  • Using a fine strainer, mesh or cheesecloth, strain the mixture into a metal container. Cover and place in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled, at least a couple hours and preferably up to 12 hours.
  • Process the ice cream in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A couple minutes before it is ready, add the chocolate chunks. Lastly, drizzle in the dulce de leche or cajeta and immediately turn the machine off, so that you create a swirled effect and not a complete mix.


27comments inVanilla Ice Cream with Cajeta Swirls & Mexican Chocolate Chunks

  1. Alexes

    Aug 10

    Oh my goodness! I can not wait to try this recipe!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 11

      I hope you enjoy it Alexes 😉

  2. Sharon

    Dec 20

    I just wanted to add a little tid-bit to my last post. It was my great-grandfather that convinced Anthony Quinn not to join with Pancho Villa when he was a young boy in Mexico. We found this out by chance. My mom was working at a local college when Anthony Quinn visited the college, while a group of people including my mom was sitting in the cafeteria talking with Anthony Quinn, Pancho Villa’s name came up and that’s when my mom mentioned that her grand-father rode with him. Anthony Quinn got up and gave my mom a big hug and said “Thank you, if I can’t thank the man who talked me out of joining the gang I can at least give his grand-daughter a hug”.

    1. Pati

      Dec 21


  3. Sharon

    Dec 20

    Hola Pati!
    Thanks for the story and pictures of Pancho Villa who loved ice cream as much as I do. I was told by my mom that my great-grandfather rode with Pancho Villa, his name was Joseph Almanza. I would love to learn more about this side of my family tree. Thanks for the inspiration and the wonderful recipes, I’m so glad I found your show!

    1. Pati

      Dec 21

      Thanks for tuning in, Sharon!

  4. Sharon

    Dec 20

    Hola Pati!

    I was so happy to read the story on Pancho Villa. I was told by my mom that my great grandfather rode with Pancho. His name was Joseph Almanza. I would love to learn more about that side of my roots. Sincere thanks for the history and all the wonderful authentic Mexican recipes! I LOVE ice cream so much, I’m going to make this ice cream recipe a tradition for my family to enjoy on holidays!

  5. Cartoongoat

    Aug 21

    Oh, thank you for this great post! Will try o cook it tomorrow.

    1. Pati

      Aug 21

      Thank you!

  6. Margie

    Jul 25

    Hi Pati,
    Love your show, when I find it on I can’t stop watching. You make everything interesting, and the food and drink looks so yummy. I’m Armenian and Italian, half and half and I love to cook. I must tell you that I love your ideas…they want me to jump into the TV and try them. You better stay on for I have found such a delightful and beautiful person to watch and get wonderful recipes from. Thank you for being you.


    1. Pati

      Jul 28

      Hola Margie, You have made my afternoon! Thank you so much for watching and for writing to me.

  7. Brain Romero

    Jul 21

    Wow! Its too good and seems to be yummy. Love this article and definitely going to try this weekend at home. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Pati

      Jul 23

      Thank you!!

  8. Viola

    Jul 16

    I love your blog and always read your posts. Thank you for this article. I will share this.

    1. Pati

      Jul 16

      Thank you!!

  9. Suzanne

    Jul 13

    Hi Pati,

    I have a 6-quart ice cream maker. Do you know how much ice cream this recipe makes? I’m trying to figure out if I need to double, triple, etc. the recipe.

    Thanks! I love your show & recipes!

    1. Pati

      Jul 14

      This recipe fits exactly a 6-quart ice cream maker, so you are all good. Thanks for watching the show!

  10. Lola

    Jul 12

    Hello Pati!
    Long time reader, first time commentator.
    First, I am so happy that you are able to show another side of Mexican cuisine to such a wide audience, and I am glad that you have traditional and contemporary recipes on your blog. And you have such a beautiful family!
    Secondly, I have a huge question for you. I love our cultura and cuisine, but I have began to date a vegan. I am wondering what recipes I can make that are delicious without any animal products or that I can adjust to make vegan, but still Mexican without compromising the flavors and integrity of the dish.If you could suggest anything I would be so grateful!

    Thank you so much!

    1. Pati

      Jul 12

      Hola Lola,
      First off, what a beautiful name you have! Secondly: there is a Universe of Mexican food that is naturally vegan. Please search on my site on the sides section and tv show’s recipes. There are from cactus paddles dishes, to potato salads, chayote salads, green beans cooked with chile de arbol and peanuts, all sorts of beans and enchiladas, soups… oh my, too many to count!

  11. Patty

    Jul 09

    I don’t have an ice cream maker and am wondering if I get a Really good vanilla ice cream like Tillamook or Thriftys ( YES, LOVE THEIRS TOO!), if I couldn’t just fold in the rest of the ingredients and referee it? Hhhmm

    1. Pati

      Jul 09

      Yes you can do that as an adaptation, of course!

  12. Paige

    Jul 06

    Very interesting story. And the ice cream looks seriously good! Thanks for sharing the recipe and that piece of history with us!

    1. Pati

      Jul 06

      With pleasure!

  13. Dara

    Jun 27

    Thanks for sharing Regina’s story. What a remarkable woman!
    I am a “gringa” who watches your show faithfully. I look forward
    to each new episode, and find your enthusiasm and passion for
    cooking contagious. I especially enjoy watching you interact
    with your sons, who are growing up to be wonderful young men.
    Continued success to you!

    1. Pati

      Jul 01

      Thank you so much, Dara!!

  14. Anirudh

    Jun 26

    Can I make this without eggs? if yes, how? so that it is soft.

    1. Pati

      Jul 07

      If you want to skip the eggs, you can use a 2 to 1 ratio of cream to sweetened condensed milk (say 2 cups cream and 1 cup sweetened condensed milk) without simmering, mix and place in ice cream maker…

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