It’s no surprise to any of my friends that coconut is one of my favourite ingredients. And for good reason: it tastes so good in so many things!
Sure, you may have had it in soups, in cookies, in desserts, in drinks, maybe even in salads… but in ice cream? In ice cream, coconut milk is simply sublime. It makes an ice cream that is incredibly smooth and unctuous. If you’re looking for an alternative to dairy, nothing (in my humble opinion) really comes as close to replicating the mouth feel of a creamy ice cream as full-fat coconut milk.
This recipe is terrific because it’s simple and straightforward (can you tell I like easy no-fuss food?). I am also sharing two of my favourite variations: Roasted Peach + Orange Mint and Roasted Cherry + Dark Chocolate. They are just as easy as the base recipe, I promise.
I will be honest with you: I can’t choose a favourite. It would be like trying to choose between two of my future children – (probably) not possible. So I won’t try… I will simply encourage you to try both and make up your own mind. Or create your own custom flavour!
Without further adieu, here’s everything you’ll need for the Coconut Ice Cream base:
Honey & Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream (base recipe)
- 800 ml full fat coconut milk* or about 2 scant cups
- 1.5 tablespoons of pure vanilla paste or the seeds of a whole vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup honey
- *You must use full-fat canned coconut milk. Light or low-fat coconut milk won't provide the healthy fats we rely on to provide the necessary “richness" for this ice cream.
HOW TO MAKE THE BASE RECIPE with an ice cream maker
I recommend using an ice cream maker for best results. Just add the ingredients, turn it on and await the results, likely in about 15-20 minutes (please refer to your specific machine for detailed instructions). Most ice cream makers produce a “soft serve” texture but you can always transfer your freshly homemade ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze it for another hour or two until it is as firm as you like.
HOW TO MAKE THE BASE RECIPE without an ice cream maker
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, feel free to try this out using a freezer method by David Lebovitz.
I can't promise it will be as creamy but it's a work-around. If you try this, please let me know in the comments how it turned out!
I was lucky enough to use honey produced on my own property courtesy our friends at We Keep Bees, but any kind of raw honey would be nice here – keep in mind that any “flavoured” honey like a dark buckwheat honey will add another element of flavour to your final creation.
If you don’t eat or don’t like honey, you can easily substitute another liquid sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.). This would make your ice cream vegan but it could change the flavour.
This basic recipe is delicious on its own but check out my two variations below for two options that make this ice cream even more special.
ROASTED PEACH + ORANGE MINT coconut milk ice cream
My Roasted Peach + Orange Mint coconut milk ice cream is a not-too-sweet, floral treat with nuggets of freshly roasted Ontario peach.
To make the Roasted Peach + Orange Mint variation, start with the coconut milk base above, then add:
- 1 cup of roasted peaches, chopped into small pieces (not too big because larger peach pieces will be too hard to chew through.
- 1 tablespoon of finely diced orange mint (any kind of mint will do, but it must be fresh; dried mint is absolutely NO substitute here–indeed dried mint would be a crime in this!)
Make the ice cream according to the instructions in the coconut base recipe above.
ROASTED CHERRY + DARK CHOCOLATE coconut milk ice cream
A gorgeous blush colour from the cherries, my Roasted Cherry + Dark Chocolate coconut milk ice cream features caramelized fruit and lovely ribbons of chocolate throughout.
To make the Chocolate + Roasted Cherry variation, start with the coconut milk base above, then add:
- 1 cup of roasted cherries, chopped (in my opinion, the smaller the better; my cherries were tiny shards, almost a puree once I was done)
Here’s a quick tip: if you don’t have a cherry pitter, the easiest way to pit fresh cherries is to roast them first and then pit them by pushing each pit through the cherry’s now soft flesh. Saves a lot of time this way!
For this recipe variation, this is the point when you would add the cherries and turn your ice cream maker on. Wait until the ice cream is almost completely set up (for me this was about 10-12 minutes) before adding the final ingredient. You will then need:
- 75 g of chocolate, melted (I used Lindt Excellence Dark Orange Intense, which added a light orange tang that complemented the cherries nicely, but any semi-sweet chocolate would do)
Without turning the ice cream maker off, slowly pour the melted chocolate through the chute. As the machine churns, the chocolate will freeze into thin ribbons that wind their way through the ice cream.
If your ice cream maker doesn’t have a chute for adding ingredients, you can turn the machine off, gently fold in the chocolate, and then turn the machine back on to fully incorporate it.
And that’s it!
Try using coconut milk to make your own homemade ice cream and I think you’ll be suitably impressed. Try one or both of my variations and you might find it more fun to shop for ice cream ingredients in your own pantry than grocery store freezers with commercially processed ice creams that contain ingredients only chemists can pronounce.
Have a question? Let me know in the comments. But first: what is your favourite ice cream flavour? The one flavour that you could eat, over and over again, without ever getting tired of it?
Life is a plate… eat up!