01 February 2011

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

Alright, alright.

So, this is the first part of a three-part series that will culminate in my new favorite dessert.  (Yeah, I know I've got a penchant for hyperbole, but this dessert is at the highest level of delicious desserts, in my [not terribly] humble opinion.)

Now, I'm not even going to try to lie to you and act like this was some quick 30-minute dessert that you can whip up to take to a pot-luck.  Nope.  It's not.  It's a labor of love.  But it's also totally worth it. 

This weekend, I had a giant folder full of papers to grade, but it was beautiful outside and I had all of the windows open and I was listening to music and everything was right with the world, and I didn't want student papers to sully my perfect afternoon.  And making the house smell like toasted coconut only made that afternoon more perfect.

So here I bring you Toasted Coconut Ice Cream, again by none other than Mr. Lebovitz.  Now, I know that not everyone is BANANAS! for coconut, including Matt. (Who also doesn't like macaroni and cheese.  What's wrong with him?)  And I know that the texture of coconut can be off-putting, which is part of why this ice cream is extra awesomepants.  Matt--hater of coconut, husband who spit out my Pecan Praline Ice Cream--even liked this one.

Because, see, once you toast your coconut. . .

. . .You heat it with milk and then add vanilla bean (I used vanilla bean paste) and let it steep for an hour.

(Doesn't it kind of look like soggy cereal?) 

And then you strain the coconut, so you get all of the coconut flavor goodness without having the coconut texture. 

After that, you just take some regular ice creaming steps.  You know, eggs and sugar, more straining, heating, chilling, etc. 

But when you're done. . .OMIGOD.  I wish this blog could provide those tiny little spoons so that I could give you samples so you wouldn't just have to take my word for it.  And I wish that I wasn't going to keep all of this ice cream for myself because it's just that good. 

When you're done you'll feel, at the same time, like a kid on the last day of school, and like a grown-up relaxing in a tropical paradise.  (Which is pretty much the best way to feel, ever.)

So here's the recipe, including Levotitz's introduction, which I really liked.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

I’ll admit that my favorite selection from the shiny white Good Humor jalopy that cruised our neighborhood was simply called “Toasted Coconut”: vanilla ice cream on a stick, coated with lots of sugary-sweet coconut.

On the last fateful day that I’d ever see the Good Humor man, the bully next door decided to spray him with water from a hose as he slowly circled our block. He beat a hasty retreat and never came back. Being blackballed by the Good Humor man made that the worst summer of my life. I don’t know what happened to the neighborhood bully, but now that I’m an adult I can have Toasted Coconut Ice Cream whenever I want. And I do.—David Lebovitz


1 cup dried shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Big pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon rum


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring it frequently so it toasts evenly. Remove it from the oven when it’s nice and fragrant and golden brown.

2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and salt and add the toasted coconut. Use a paring knife and scrape all the vanilla seeds into the warm milk, then add the pod as well. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

3. Rewarm the coconut-infused mixture. Set a mesh strainer over another medium saucepan and strain the coconut-infused liquid through the strainer into the saucepan. Press down on the coconut very firmly with a flexible rubber spatula to extract as much of the flavor from it as possible. Remove the vanilla bean halves (rinse and reserve them for another use), and discard the coconut.

4. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set the mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla or rum and stir over an ice bath until cool.

6. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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