If you’ve been disappointed with the flavor and texture of coconut milk ice cream, try this one. Virgin coconut oil, creme de cacao, and tapioca syrup lend this chocolate coconut milk ice cream a smooth and creamy mouth feel, and prevent it from getting rock hard in the freezer.
When I began experimenting with coconut milk ice cream, I was really after a good egg free ice cream base to make when my chickens aren’t laying many eggs (such as during the fall molt). I could just go with an egg free dairy ice cream, but I love the taste of coconut and I’d like to be able to serve dessert to vegan guests. So I set a goal of making coconut milk ice cream that’s as smooth and creamy as my custard ice creams. But a well made custard based ice cream is transcendentally smooth and creamy, and tough to match. Six batches into my experimentation phase, and I think it’s there!
I first tried the basic 3-ingredient version with coconut milk, sugar, and cocoa, but it just didn’t cut it. It was a solid brick out of the freezer. Leaving it at room temperature for 20 minutes took care of that, but then it was a gritty and crumbly disappointment. So I tried a number of variations, and with the 6th batch, I finally got it: A rich and creamy chocolate coconut milk ice cream that’s silky smooth, and scoopable right out of the freezer.
What’s the secret? There are three important ones:
- Replace some of the sugar with tapioca syrup or corn syrup, to make it softer, smoother, and more elastic (less crumbly).
- Enrich it with virgin coconut oil to give it a creamier mouth feel.
- Spike it with alcohol to reduce the melting point, so the ice cream will be a little softer when just out of the freezer. A bit of vodka would accomplish that, but I use creme de cacao instead, because it also adds depth and flavor.
The kind of cocoa you use will have a dramatic affect on the flavor of the ice cream, so choose a brand you know you like. I’ve used two different brands with this recipe, and each imparts a unique flavor. Both are delicious: Valrhona is a Dutch process cocoa with an intense flavor. It makes a deep, dark chocolate ice cream. Omanhene is a natural cocoa with a more subtle, complex flavor. It’s not over-powering, and nicely complements the coconut flavor. The ice cream in the photos was made with Omanhene.
If you try this ice cream, please let me know what you think. I love tweaking recipes, so don’t be shy about sharing your suggestions!
Chocolate coconut milk ice cream recipe
Makes about 1 quart
- 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa (or 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Two 13-14 ounce cans of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk (If it has begun to separate in the can, warm it slightly prior to using, and stir to recombine it. If you don’t, the texture of the ice cream will be gritty)
- 1/2 cup tapioca syrup or corn syrup (not high fructose corn syrup)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp creme de cacao (despite the “creme” in the name, there is no actual dairy in this. But feel free to use a different liqueur if you prefer. Orange, almond, hazelnut, or coffee liqueur would be wonderful choices.)
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, and salt until well blended and free of lumps.
- Add the sugar/cocoa mix, coconut milk, tapioca syrup, vanilla extract, and the liqueur to a food processor or blender. Process until well blended.
- While processing, pour in the melted coconut oil and process a few more seconds to blend.
- Cool completely in refrigerator, at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to freezer storage container, and freeze until ready to serve.
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