Thursday, April 12, 2012

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

This week’s cookbook, Bake and Freeze Desserts (1994), is by Elinor Klivans.  As a food writer, she’s published more than a dozen cookbooks, and Bake and Freeze Desserts was her first.  

I received this cookbook as a member of the Cookbook-of-the-Month club back in the 1990s.  At the time, I was a young graduate student and a little disappointed when the book arrived because there weren’t any food photos inside the book (I love food photos), and the picture on the book's cover looked old-fashioned.  The quality of the picture wasn’t old-fashioned – it was a modern, color photograph of cakes, pies, and ice creams on what looks like a floor-to-ceiling antique buffet.  That heavy piece of furniture was not something I’d have in my shabby-chic 20-something apartment. 

But the recipes inside this cookbook?  Those I very much wanted in my apartment.  This collection of dessert recipes would be worth owning for the quality of the recipes alone (the cookbook was nominated for a Julia Child cookbook award), but the added bonus is that Klivans gives explicit directions with each recipe on how to freeze it for future enjoyment.  As someone who typically bakes more than I can eat, the idea of freezing leftovers appealed to my prolific and frugal nature. 

I’m still on my elimination diet (so far: dairy – bad; soy, peanuts, and chocolate – good!), and I’ve been wanting ice cream.  Bake and Freeze Desserts has several ice cream recipes, and I thought I’d take the Toasted Coconut Ice Cream and make it a dairy-free ice cream. 

Adapting the Recipe
The original recipe had no gluten in it, so nothing to change there.

But this recipe was all about dairy:  whole milk and whipping cream.  Since the primary flavor is supposed to be coconut, it’s a natural for coconut milk.  Based on what I’ve learned with previous recipes (Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream and Coffee Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Toasted Almonds), I substituted unsweetened, canned coconut milk for the milk and cream, cut the egg yolks to make it vegan (and lower in fat) and added a little xanthan gum for a creamy texture.

Because the coconut milk is, in my experience, naturally sweeter than regular dairy milk, I’ve reduced the amount of sweetened coconut in the recipe.  You could add more toasted coconut if you like, sprinkling it on top if you want more.

Yummy.  The ice cream is creamy, the toasted coconut chewy and crunchy, and the mouth feel thick and rich. I liked this ice cream so much that I almost ate the entire batch before I remembered to take a photo.  Granted, it only makes a pint, so double the recipe if you’d like to share. 

I know coconut milk ice cream is supposed to fool people who don’t like coconut, but if you actually like the flavor of coconut, you’re going to be in heaven.

½ C. shredded sweetened coconut
1 ½ C. unsweetened, canned coconut milk (light or regular)
1/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. xanthan gum

Put a pint-sized plastic container (or larger) and a lid in the freezer so that you have a cold container ready for your finished ice cream.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet.  Toast about 10 minutes, until the coconut becomes golden, stirring once.  Set the coconut aside to cool thoroughly.  You can also turn off the oven.

Meanwhile, put all of the remaining ingredients in a blender.  If you’re using regular coconut milk, use a spatula to scrape out the thickened parts that stick to the can.  Blend until evenly mixed, about 45 seconds.

Place the covered blender jar in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours.  Letting the mixture sit in the refrigerator both cools it (which makes for better ice cream) and gives the xanthan gum a chance to work its thickening magic. 
Blend the mixture again for 10-15 seconds, just enough to redistribute anything that’s settled.  Pour the cold mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the ice cream stiffens and is beginning to crest, about 2 minutes before it’s done, add the toasted coconut. Continue churning until the ice cream is ready.  If you like your ice cream soft, enjoy it immediately, or transfer it to the chilled container to enjoy a firmer ice cream in an hour.

Makes roughly 1 pint of ice cream

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