Since Week #3, my sister has been bugging me to make coconut ice cream. I have learned that, on occasion, she indulges in Coconut Bliss, an organic, dairy-free ice cream that is made from coconut milk (obviously). It also happens to cost about $9.00 a pint! No wonder I’ve been nudged on many an occasion to crank out a batch of coconut ice cream for her! Since it’s my sister’s birthday this week, I will oblige. So, here we have it: Toasted Coconut Ice Cream, the first “Happy Coconut” recipe in the 52 Scoops repertoire. Dairy-free and delicious! And, it cost me less than $5.00 to make a whole litre.
Coconut milk can be a bit confusing. When I was little, I thought the water inside the coconut was “coconut milk”. This liquid is, in fact, coconut water. Coconut milk is made by grating the meat from a mature coconut and extracting the liquid from the meat (e.g. squeezing it through cheese cloth). The first pressing yields a luscious, thick, flavourful milk with a high fat content. The leftover coconut meat can then be soaked in warm water and squeezed a second or perhaps even a third time. Subsequent pressings result in a thinner milk. When coconut milk is left to settle, the fattier components separate and rise to the top. This thick, buttery substance is coconut cream.
I wasn’t ambitious enough to make my own coconut milk for this recipe, so I opted for the canned variety instead. There is a huge range in the quality of canned coconut milk. I usually use Aroy-D brand, which contains 60% coconut extract and 40% water. Beware of cheaper brands that use less coconut extract, more water, and various additives and preservatives such as potassium metabisulphite E224. Potass-a-what? No thanks!
This recipe yields a very rich ice cream with a wonderful texture and chew from the toasted coconut. The ice cream does freeze up harder and icier compared to other recipes containing dairy cream, so it is best enjoyed within a few hours of churning. If you must store it longer, let it soften up in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to scooping.
A note to egg-freers: This recipe was also tested omitting the eggs, but, alas, I am sad to report that the results were unsatisfactory. The ice cream was immensely hard and icy and seemed to lack depth in terms of flavour. But don’t worry, there is lots of action in the test kitchen, and I assure you there will be egg-free Happy Coconut recipes in the near future!
Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (Makes about 1 L)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 – 13.5 oz (400 ml) cans of coconut milk
1 cup of dessicated coconut
- In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- Add 1.5 cans of the coconut milk.
- Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 155 degrees F / 68 degrees C. Note: this is a lower temperature than the typical dairy-based custard)
- Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining coconut milk to stop the cooking. Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
- Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.
- While the custard is chilling, toast the coconut in a dry pan over medium low heat, stirring constantly. This should take just a few minutes. Keep a very close eye on the coconut — it can over-brown very quickly. When the coconut is golden and fragrant, remove from the heat, and transfer to a small dish. Let cool completely.
- To finish, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- In the final moments of churning, add the toasted coconut and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.