For the coconut sauce

  • \(\frac{3}{4}\) cup sweetened cream of coconut
  • \(1 \frac{1}{2}\) cups whole milk
  • \(1/2\) tsp vanilla bean paste
  • toasted coconut flakes

For the custard

  • \(2\) cups whole milk
  • \(1\) cup heavy cream
  • \(4\) large egg yolks
  • \(\frac{1}{4}\) cup white sugar

Coconut Ice-Cream Recipe

Ivan Vanchev

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coconut Ice-cream Photo

I have always been an admirer of good ice-cream, and ever since we purchased an ice-cream maker, we have been trying out all sorts of different recipes. Now, coconut ice-cream brings together the freshness of cold coconut flakes and the lushious creaminess of coconut itself, thus making it one of my favorite flavors ever. It is, however, all too easy for the casual ice-cream enthusiast to run into numerous questionable recipes online that use coconut milk for vegan or custard-free alternatives to traditional ice-cream. I am all for healthier snacking, but in case you are searching for a good custard-based recipe, look no further. We were experimenting last night and ended up with quite a satisfactory result, so I decided to share our results with the world. The custard is from a recipe for salted caramel ice-cream that has become our golden standard to measure all other home-made ice-cream against. They actually got the custard bit for their recipe from a book entitled The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto: Bold, Fresh Flavors to Make at Home, which I most definitely want to check out at some point in the near future.

The Coconut Sauce

Now, the first thing you would want to do is set a saucepan over medium-to-high heat and pour in the \(1 \frac{1}{2}\) cups of whole milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and then add in the cream of coconut. I know some of you probably landed on this page because of a sudden, irresistible craving for coconut ice-cream and might lack some of the ingredients. You might even be thinking 'Oh, but Ivan, I only have coconut milk right now. That should also do a decent job, right?' Well, know that you will be making a grave error. We tried using coconut milk once before, and while the initial result was alright, once the ice-cream actually froze, it became too hard and icy. Since coconut milk is much waterier and far less creamy than Cream of coconut, you should beware of the consequences if you choose to replace one with the other. Back to our recipe, then. Once the mixture begins simmering again, remove it from the stove and set aside to cool down while you're working on the custard.

The Custard

On to the custard. First, in a heat-proof bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks until smooth. Then, add in the sugar slowly and continue whisking until it dissolves and the mixture is paler in color. Set the bowl aside for now. Pour the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and set over medium heat until it reaches a temperature of \(170^{\circ}\mathrm{F}\) (The reason I dare use the Fahrenheit scale versus the far saner Celsius is that our thermometer is in Fahrenheit. For the curious and those of us with no access to a calculator or google, that would be \(76.67^{\circ}\mathrm{C}\).). At that point you want to quickly remove the mixture from the heat and temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring small amounts of the hot milk mixture into the eggs while vigorously whisking. If there is ever a time to go all-out with the whisk, trust me - this is it. Failing to do so would cause the egg yolks to lump up, giving your ice-cream a rather unpleasant taste and texture. Once the egg yolks are tempered, you can safely pour them into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture and bring back to the heat. Cook the custard until it reaches a temperature of \(185^{\circ}\mathrm{F}\), i.e. \(85^{\circ}\mathrm{C}\).

Bringing It All Together

After all this labor, the custard should have thickened nicely. If you're in doubt about the perfect execution of the tempering process and want to ensure no chunks of egg are present in your ice-cream, do go ahead and run the custard through a fine mesh strainer. Let it cool down for a few minutes and then combine with the coconut sauce and stir well.

At this point the hard work is done. All that remains is to let the ice-cream mix chill down until it is completely cool. Putting the bowl into an ice bath and (figuratively) throwing it into your fridge does a nice job of speeding up the process. After an hour or two, it should be safe to pour the mix into your ice-cream maker and let it do its magic. When the ice-cream is almost ready to take out of the machine, I highly recommend adding some toasted coconut flakes to the mix; they give the ice-cream an extra layer of flavor and some different texture that takes it to another level. Note that toasted is the keyword here - letting them turn a light-brown color in a pan over medium heat does wonders for the coconut flakes and your taste buds.

At the end of the process you should be left with a quart of delicious coconut ice-cream that just needs to be transferred into a container (preferrably air-tight) and put into your freezer. I guarantee that the result is super tasty. It might be a little on the sweet side for some, so the only logical solution that comes to mind is to keep making and eating more batches with different brands of cream of coconut until you find the best one for you.