I’ve been making my own coconut ice cream at home for a couple weeks now. I will totally eat regular, dairy ice cream – but I love coconut ice cream too. So whether you can’t eat dairy or simply choose not to – or if you’re just nutty for coconut, let’s talk about this!
I must tell you upfront that coconut milk ice cream making is an art as much as it is a science. There are also some pros and cons when it comes to making it yourself versus shelling out the bucks for a pint of the already-made coconut milk ice cream you can find in the grocery store freezer case. For instance:
Pro: The recipe is very simple!
Con: You need an ice cream maker for this.
I realize an ice maker isn’t an appliance that everyone has in their kitchen – even ours was a hand me down. But now that we have one, I really like it! Mostly because it means I can control the quality of ingredients and quantity of sugar too. Dessert control freak much? Yes, I admit it.
2 can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least four hours
1/4 c of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
That refrigeration step is crucial for a really, really creamy coconut ice cream. Thanks to a little trick I learned from from Angela at Oh She Glows :
If you refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk for at least 4 hours, it separates.
Fat on the bottom, “skim” coconut milk on the top. Flip the can upside down, open and pour out the liquid.
(I’ve followed Angela’s advice and save that liquid portion of the coconut milk for smoothies and cooking.)
Then scrape out the cream. Glorious, glorious coconut cream!
Now don’t panic! Yes, that’s full of fat but a.) fat is our friend and b.) we’re talking about a treat here, it’s gonna be OK. Here, have some coconut milk ice cream while you compose yourself.
You can make an incredible, and-I-mean-incredible dessert topping with this coconut cream alone. (seriously. this stuff is life changing. go read Angela’s Coconut Whipped Cream post for a step by step guide and other helpful info! GO! go right now!)
After making coconut whipped cream to top some fresh, summer berries this year (in that case, no sugar is even needed!) I got to thinking I could put this creamy concoction into the ice cream maker to make a rich and creamy ice cold treat.
Pro: It’s awesome being right.
Con: This is no downside to me being right.
Use a hand mixer, blender or immersion blender to combine ingredients well. I like using the hand mixer because the clean up is quick and I can scrape every last drop out of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
Here’s where some of that “art of coconut ice cream making” comes into play – if your cream base is especially thick – you might need to add a 1/8 c – 1/4 c of that coconut skim milk you set aside at the beginning. You’ll need to use your best judgement though, keeping in mind how temperamental your ice cream maker is. (I had one batch that was so custardy-thick my ice maker stopped churning after just a couple minutes!)
More pros and cons:
Pro: You can use as much or as little sugar as you like. I find a 1/4 c of sugar to be plenty, but you might want more or less, or perhaps use something like honey, maple syrup or stevia.
Con: The texture of your finished product completely depends on texture of your coconut milk out of the can. As I’ve come to discover, no two cans every seem to be exactly the same. Sometimes it’s very smooth, other times it’s a little grainy (why does this happen?) which means your ice cream will be a little grainy too, and that’s sort of a bummer.
Pro: grainy or not, it is ALWAYS delicious!
Con: but sometimes a little frustrating from a quality control perspective.
When your ingredients are well combined, transfer your coconut cream mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions from there.
The other difference I’ve noticed (even with the same technique and same brand of coconut milk) is that if I transfer the leftovers (leftovers?!) to the freezer, sometimes it scoops out nicely straight from the freezer, and other times it’s pretty hard and I need to let it warm up for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
Again with the Art of Coconut Milk Ice Cream Making; you’ll have to figure out what works for you, your freezer, your ice cream and your mouth.
No matter which way you churn it, me and my mouth like this stuff.
From what I’ve gathered, the cost of making your own at home vs. buying something like So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream is pretty much a toss up. I’ll admit that at first I thought there was going to be a substantial cost savings to making your own coconut milk ice cream compared to buying a pint of coconut milk ice cream at the store, but now I’m not so sure.
At Wegmans, a pint (16 oz) of So Delicious is $4.99. One 13.66 oz can of Thai Kitchen coconut milk is $2.49. So yes, that’s nearly 27 oz for $4.98, but you do “lose” some volume because you pour out the liquid portion of the coconut milk (and that amount of liquid seems to vary slightly with each can). I am sure I end up with more than 16 oz of coconut milk ice cream each time, but I don’t know exactly how much because I’ve yet take an exact measurement of my final product. Then there is the (minimal) additional cost of the sugar and vanilla extract, plus the time and energy it takes to make it. This is why I call the cost comparison a toss up.
In my mind, the best reason to make your own coconut milk ice cream at home is because you can do it with just three ingredients. So Delicious uses agave nectar for sweetener (something I no longer prefer to consume) and if I’m going to eat sugar, I’d rather just use real sugar and call it a day. They also use some thickeners and other extracts too, and if we can make it at home without those ingredients? I’m all over it.
If you like to keep things simple and close to home, it’s hard to go wrong making your own coconut milk ice cream. And a fourth or fifth might be completely called for if it’s something like cocoa powder, chunks of chocolate, a little peppermint flavoring , fresh berries, nuts or nut butter – whatever your taste buds desire. Let your dessert control freak flag fly!