So, last week I made a layer cake with coconut whipped cream. The majority of the coconut solids in each can went into the whipped topping, so the question was, what to do with all of that leftover coconut water? Since this summer has been so hot, I immediately thought of ice cream. I know I already tried making coconut ice cream. It turned out alright, but I wanted to see if I could improve on the last attempt. Because of the lack of coconut fat, the ice cream would turn out to be more like ice. As wonderful as a granita would be, that’s not what I was after.
There was another issue, too. How does one go about creating ice cream that has the consistency of gelato? I’ve tried a custard base to thicken it; I’ve tried reducing the liquid until much of the water has evaporated. But, in the end, I always found that the ice cream “iced up” once it had been stored in the freezer. How does one stop ice crystals from forming in the ice cream? Because that is the essential problem here. Ice crystals form naturally, but somehow, commercially produced gelato (even the gelato made fresh every few days in the gelateria) retains that creamy quality.
I checked out a few gelato recipes on line and noticed something that all of the “professional” recipes use – dextrose. Apparently, dextrose inhibits ice crystals from forming. Guar gum does the same thing. I didn’t have either. What I did have was xanthan gum. A quick googling informed me that yes, indeed, xanthan gum would have the same effect. Sure enough, the texture was awesome. Next time, I’ll make it with full fat coconut milk for an even creamier feel. In the meantime, here’s the recipe:
Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream
I had a lot of coconut water left over, so this recipe makes a lot. Feel free to cut the quantities. Don’t worry too much about getting the proportions exact; much of it is done to taste anyway.
7 cups coconut milk
1 cup white sugar (use dulce de leche, for a decadent treat)
1 tsp vanilla extract (substitute a vanilla bean, if you have it)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- Heat coconut milk to 85°C. The purpose of heating the milk to that temperature in this case is to ensure that the sugar dissolves completely. Really, the temperature requirement comes from ice cream recipes that use milk. Then, the temperature is meant to kill any nefarious bacteria. You can choose to skip the step entirely. Add sugar, vanilla and xanthan gum. Stir until well combined. Adjust amounts of sugar and vanilla, if necessary.
- Let cool completely. Chill in the refridgerator for a few hours or overnight. Once completely chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions. Store in an airtight container.