Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati
This recipe is based on using fresh coconut. For those who have never dealt with a coconut it can seem a problem, prompting people to reach for ice picks, sledge-hammers and electric drills. Our technique is not so dramatic. Since it is simpler and safer than most advice we have read on the subject, we pass it on.
First though, when buying a coconut, shake it; it should have an unmistakable, generously sloshing sound. Then check the three ‘eyes’; none of these should be mouldy or show any sign of damage. To open the coconut you first need to drain off the water inside. (It is called water, not milk.) A few experimental jabs will establish that one eye is softer than the other two. (This is the eye through which the coconut would have sprouted.) We find it easiest to use a corkscrew to make the first hole in this eye and then enlarge it with a kebab-type skewer. Use the corkscrew to make a second hole in another eye to avoid an air lock. Leave the coconut upside down to drain into a large glass or mug.
To open the shell, cover the coconut with a towel, place it on a stone or concrete floor and hit it with a hammer. This usually both cracks the shell and frees the meat at one and the same time. Try using a sharp potato peeler to pare off the thin brown skin, as this has proved to be safer than a knife. Any coconut meat left over keeps best immersed in coconut water, in the fridge.
After all your hard work you will be rewarded with the most gloriously flavoured ice cream.
Makes About 1 Litre
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Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Prepare the coconut as outlined above. Coarsely grate the white meat either by putting it through the coarse grater disc of a good processor or by hand. Spread evenly over a large baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or until the coconut is golden. Stir occasionally so that the coconut pieces brown evenly.
Measure 80 g/1/4 cup/2 3/4 oz of the toasted coconut into a saucepan, reserving the remainder in a sealed container. Add the milk and heat gently until the first bubbles appear. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Strain the milk, pressing the coconut firmly to extract all the juices. Measure the coconut milk and make it up to 375 ml/ 1 1/2 cups/12 fl oz with fresh milk if necessary. Return
the coconut milk to the saucepan and bring back to boiling point.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a heatproof bowl and proceed as for Standard French Vanilla Ice Cream.
When the custard is cool, cover and chill in the fridge. When ready, add the chilled cream, stir the cream and vanilla into the custard the either still or stir freeze and store. Serve within 1 hour or, if frozen solid, allow 30 minutes in the fridge to soften sufficiently for serving.
Scoops of the ice cream can be served with a sprinkling of the remaining toasted coconut.