Thai Coconut Ice Cream

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The title is a bit of a misnomer, as there’s no “cream” (in the dairy sense) involved at all. And before you run away thinking this is some crazy vegan thing…well, it’s vegan, but 1) decadent and delicious, and 2) very traditional.

There are many hybrid recipes for coconut ice cream, such as those adding whip cream and/or eggs. These are meant to appeal to an American palate, and our expectation that ice cream is made from a cream-based custard. Fortunately, this traditional recipe needs neither! That means it’s both easier and healthier.

Machine vs Freezer?
You can make this one of two ways – in an ice cream maker (we have this one), or in a bowl in the freezer. If using an ice cream maker, simply follow the machine directions, noting that this will not be as hard as traditional ice cream. It has more of a soft-serve consistency. For harder ice cream, simply pop it in the freezer for an hour or so after churning, then serve. The consistency is superior from an ice cream maker, as the constant churning will make the ice cream more smooth. However, if you don’t have one, freezing it “by hand” will taste just as good! The no-ice-cream-maker directions follow the ingredient list.

Ingredients:
2 cans coconut milk (or one can of coconut milk and one of coconut cream, which is sweetened and contains the thickener carrageenan and will result in a slightly sweeter, creamier end product)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup finely chopped mango, 1/3 cup Thai basil, etc – experiment! My favorite is a combination of coconut and mango, topped with crushed peanuts.
Toppings: Toasted coconut, crushed peanuts, honey, pineapple pieces, etc. Or, eat it plain!

Directions:
In the microwave or on the stove, boil the water.
2. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
3. Stir in the coconut milk and salt, using a whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Refrigerate until cool.
5. Process in ice cream maker, OR,
5. Place in the freezer for one hour, then take it out and stir thoroughly.
6) Repeat in one hour increments until it reaches the desired consistency, then serve.

Notes on making it without an ice cream maker: If you have a hand mixer, try using it on low speed. If not, stir very thoroughly – the goal is to prevent large ice crystals from forming, which would make it more of an Italian Ice texture than iced cream-y. When you stir thoroughly, you break up existing ice crystals so they don’t get a chance to get so large.
Overall, this should take three to four hours, depending on the exact texture you want. You can always stir it more frequently (the more the creamier, actually) but don’t let it sit for longer than an hour. Once it’s actually frozen at the desired texture, you can leave it alone for a night or two without any problems 🙂

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