A week rarely passes when I don’t eat chèvre. Creamy or hard, cheese made with goat’s milk has an unmistakable “tanginess” that I just love. But a sweet goat’s milk confection? I never considered this.
Then, on a sunny morning last summer at the Montauk Farmer’s Market on the East End of Long Island, I had the good fortune of tasting Fat Ass Fudge: Creamy, melodious fudge made with 72% pure dark Belgian chocolate, sprinkled with local Amagansett Sea Salt crystals. It was exquisite.
Owner Donna McCue uses two unexpected ingredients in her grandmother’s recipe: organic goat’s milk and goat’s milk butter. The results are winning- and Fat Ass was featured last summer (2013) on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Donna believes that the goat’s milk provides an extra creamy texture that regular milk does not match.
And there is more than just taste and texture. Confections made with goat’s milk, rather than cow’s milk may have a health advantage.
New York City-based Registered Dietitian Megan Wolf* explains why goat’s milk is becoming a popular choice for many suffering from lactose intolerance, lactose sensitivities or general food and dairy sensitivities:
Goat’s milk can be a better option for a few reasons. The first: less lactose. Goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk. Lactose is a naturally occurring milk sugar causing upset stomachs in lactose intolerant or sensitive individuals. The second: the fat is different. The fat in goat’s milk is much easier to digest, reducing the incidence of digestion problems. The third: the protein is different. There is very little (if any) casein, a milk protein that many are sensitive or allergic to. The fourth and final reason: goat’s milk is similar in makeup to human milk. Many believe for this reason, it is more easily tolerated. Some clients who suffer minor sensitivities to cow’s milk do better with a 50/50 dilution of cow’s milk and goat’s milk. However, it is important to note: what works for one individual may not necessarily work for another. Trial and error and food journaling can greatly help those suffering from food sensitivities.
With these potential health benefits — and an irresistible taste — in mind, I decided to explore other goat’s milk sweets. Here are two stand-outs:
Dan and Nancy Hankle founded fincaChocolate in Logan, Ohio with the mission of producing their chocolate “fairly and responsibly.” The organic chocolate is produced using cacao from a family farm in the Dominican Republic- and will eventually be made from the Hankle’s very own farm in Puerto Rico, where their trees are just starting to produce. They began by making varying levels of dark chocolate ranging from 70 to 100%. The inspiration for their Goat’s Milk Chocolate Bar came later, when a friend’s cow’s milk allergy prompted Dan to search the Internet for goat’s milk chocolate. He couldn’t find even one.
And so fincaChocolate filled a niche with an original goat’s milk chocolate bar that quickly became one of its most popular products. I found the diminutive bar to be creamy and flavorful – with the unmistakable but delicate flavor of goat’s milk.
I always appreciate great packaging and Fat Toad Farm Caramel delighted from the moment I opened the shipping box to see a burlap bag containing their original “Goat’s Milk Caramel,” wooden tasting spoon invitingly included. The Brookfield, Vermont family business produces multiple variations of the traditional Mexican “cajeta” including Salted Bourbon, Vanilla Bean and Cinnamon caramel.
Seven years ago Steve Reid began raising a couple of French Alpine Milking goats in his garage. Steve had grown up on a farm and enjoyed a lifelong love for animals. He was quickly taken with the goats and began growing his herd.
While living in Mexico around that same time, Reid’s daughter Calley Hastings discovered local communities making cajeta, the traditional Mexican caramel made from goat’s milk (a variation on the more familiar “dulce de leche,” which uses cow’s milk). She brought the recipe and cooking method back to Vermont and a family business was soon born. Reid and his wife Judith Irving, along with their daughters Hastings and Hannah Reid hand-craft their caramel using milk from their herd of 70 French Alpine Milking goats, spending six hours stirring the confection in giant copper kettles.
The results are spectacular, and artisanship is apparent The caramel is rich, nutty, deep and flavorful. The taste of goat’s milk is subtle. I enjoy it by the spoonful right out of the jar, and drizzled on vanilla ice cream. Anything that allows the flavor and texture to shine.
Fat Ass Fudge, fincaChocolate Goat’s Milk Chocolate and Fat Toad Farm Caramel: these goat’s milk confections are marvelous options for those with lactose intolerances- but in every case a delicious treat for every taste.
*Megan Wolf is a New York City based Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the owner of Megan Wolf Nutrition, a nutrition counseling and consulting practice in and around New York City where she works with both private and corporate clients. She is an avid cook, recipe developer, speaker and writer. She writes for her blog The Domesticated Wolf. For more healthy tips and recipes, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram