Thai coconut ice cream

Next time you have a coconut based curry, why not whip up this delicious Thai coconut ice cream as a dessert? Serve with a caramel sauce for extra indulgence.

First published in 2015
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I have fond memories of my trip to Thailand a few years ago. We did a week long holiday in Bangkok and Pattaya, relaxing on the pristine white sandy beaches, taking scuba diving lessons, visiting the gorgeous temples, and of course, the most interesting bit about any holiday for me, the food. From street side small eateries to markets to restaurants to bars, we tried it all. The food was simply fabulous, and nothing like I've had elsewhere. I have tried to recreate many a dishes from my Thailand holiday, hitting the right note on a lot of them, but failing to get the taste right on a few others. Of course, the Thai green and red curries are a staple at mine, and although I haven't perfected the Pad Thai, it tops the list of my must have dishes at a Thai restaurant.

Coconut is used in abundance in Thai cooking and coming from the Southern-most state of India, Kerala, I'm not averse to the use of coconut in excess. From the land of coconut curries, soufflés and desserts, coconut ice cream didn't come as a surprise to me. It's a delicious one that can be whipped up in no time, and with very few ingredients.

A lot of you might be easily put off by the coconut flavour in an ice cream, but trust me, this recipe is a fine balance of coconut and cream, without either of them overpowering, yet the subtle taste of coconut coming through. The desiccated coconut adds some texture to the creaminess and works brilliantly. The ice cream is not really sweet, so a generous drizzle of caramel sauce does no harm to the outcome. It lifts the flavours a tad more, and anyway put warm caramel on anything and you can't go wrong!

The recipe can be easily halved, using 2 egg yolks and double cream can be replaced with single cream too, if you needed to get rid of some from your fridge. I used coconut milk from a can, which was pretty thick, so if using coconut cream then dilute it with a little bit of water to make 150 ml. Of course, if you did want the coconut flavour to come through more aggressively then increase it to around 200 ml and reduce the cream quantities accordingly. It's a pretty forgiving recipe and you really can't go wrong with it.

Serve in mini waffle cones, if desired.




Coconut ice cream

Caramel sauce

  • 190g of caster sugar
  • 85g of butter, cut into cubes
  • 120ml of double cream


For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high heat. Resist the urge to prod and stir, and wait for the sugar to caramelise. This may take a while, so be patient. You can swirl the pan to make sure the sugar melts evenly
Once the sugar is completely melted and the caramel starts to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the butter - it will bubble up. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate the butter into the caramel
Once all of the butter has melted, pour in the double cream. Again, it will bubble up, but keep stirring until you get a silky smooth caramel sauce
Transfer to a clean jar and leave to cool to room temperature. The sauce can keep in a refrigerator for up to two weeks, or it can be easily frozen. To use after freezing, warm it up gently and pour over your favourite ice cream, or drizzle on cakes and brownies
To make the ice cream, add the double cream and coconut milk to a saucepan and scrape in the vanilla seeds along with the pod. Place the pan over medium high heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to infuse for about 30 minutes or so
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and smooth
Bring the cream-coconut milk mix back to a simmer. While continuously whisking the egg, slowly pour in the cream. Pour the mix back into a saucepan and place over a low heat
Keep stirring continuously until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon in a thin layer (you need to be careful and not overcook, or the custard will curdle). At this point, take the saucepan off the heat and pass the custard through a sieve into a bowl
Stir through the desiccated coconut and allow to cool completely, laying a sheet of cling film on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. If you want to speed up this process, place the bowl over an ice bath and keep stirring until it turns cool
Once cool, you can either churn it in an ice cream maker, or, if you don't have one, pour the custard into an airtight container and freeze for about an hour or so, or until just about set
Take it out, whisk well to break the ice crystals that have formed and then put it back in the freezer and freeze until ready to serve. When ready to serve, scoop into bowls or cones, drizzle with the caramel sauce and finish with some more desiccated coconut, if desired
First published in 2015

Nisha is a freelance writer, avid food blogger and wannabe food photographer.

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