I can now honestly tell you that a dairy-free ice cream is in my top 5 list of all-time favorites. What? Dairy free ice cream? Yes, that’s exactly what I said. And it’s freakin’ amazing.
You know that Lincoln commercial with Matthew McConaughey where he channels his True Detective character’s dark and brooding introspection and lets you know, “I didn’t do it to be cool, I didn’t do it to make a statement, I just liked it”? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this coincidentally vegan ice cream. I’m happy that it conveniently fits a broad range of dietary needs, but I just made it because it’s absolutely delicious and you should too, regardless of your stance on eating eggs and milk and all of that. So long as you like coconut, you’re good to go, my friend. You’ll be glad you did.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the first season of True Detective, make a batch of this Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Mango Swirl, sit your butt down in front of the TV, and watch it as you chow down. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but, uh, I guess I’m telling you what to do. I just want to lead you down the blissful path, and I can’t think of a better way. If you have seen it, back me up here.
Something else I recommend for your enjoyment: getting an ice cream maker, if you don’t already have one. I recently got the Cuisinart Electric Ice Cream Maker, and I am all about it now. It’s a whole new world where everything can be turned into a frozen treat. EVERYTHING.
I was originally inspired to make this recipe when I stumbled across an Instagram post, somewhere in the depths of hours of mindless pre-sleep scrolling, that showed a Thai version of ice cream made from coconut milk and served with sweet rice and crushed peanuts. It stuck in my head for days (and nights– to the point that I had dreams involving coconut ice cream) before I decided to churn out my own, with a swirl of sweet mango mixed in so that I could use some of those juicy summer fruits that are always catching my eye this time of year.
When I first saw it on Instagram, I thought the coconut flavor might be a bit muted, but let me tell you, it shines full-on when frozen, especially against the bright mango. It’s more refreshing than your typical ice cream, and it’s very creamy considering there is no custard base at play.
I expected it to be good, but what I wound up with was addictive. No one in my family managed to limit themselves to “just one scoop”. The whole container vanished within hours of freezing, although I should probably take most of the blame for that because I hovered over it with my ice cream scoop, sighing and piling my bowl up until my cousin cut me off. “Are you really going to eat all of that?” she asked, eyeing up the tower of scoops I had amassed. Yes. Yes I am.
And I did.
And my only regret was not making more.
For the Coconut Ice Cream:
- 2 cups unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup young coconut flesh, from the coconut or canned and rinsed, chopped small
For the Mango Swirl:
- 2 cups fresh mango, chopped
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- Pomegranate seeds
- Halved fresh coconuts
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt, and cook until all of the sugar dissolves. Add in the coconut water and stir. Cover and chill in the fridge until completely cool, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- In a food processor, puree the fresh mango until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and stir in the brown sugar over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until cold.
- Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Mix in the young coconut in the last 5 minutes of churning. Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or baking dish, layering drizzles of the mango puree in between and on top. Swirl together with a butter knife and freeze until solid.
- Serve in halved coconuts with pomegranate seeds, to top.
If you don’t want to use an ice cream maker, you can also make the ice cream using a food processor and ice cube tray– a technique developed by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. Instead of putting the ice cream mixture in the machine, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then transfer the cubes to a food processor to process until smooth. Follow the remaining steps of the recipe as listed.
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