In the depths of winter, when summer seems so far away, I can’t help but think of the tropics. Especially when outside is a blizzard (like the one we recently had in New Haven), I turn up the heat, don my flip-flops and play some Bob Marley. Food-wise, I go for pineapple, mango, and coconut. Since we recently broke out the ice cream maker to complement our ramekin brownies with homemade coffee ice cream, I was left with some extra cream. Having no excuse not to use it, we turned to David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop – a mouth-wateringly evil book if there ever was one. Toasted coconut ice cream seemed like the perfect solution, but Lebovitz suggests making mango sorbet alongside and rippling it in. The pictures in his book are amazing, but to do it as he suggests requires two ice cream churns working simultaneously or some creative mixing. For simplicity, we just sliced a ripe mango and dropped in the pieces during the last minute of churning. The result: a decadent coconut ice cream with little flavor bursts of mango and a chill way to melt away the wintertime blues.
Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (modified from The Perfect Scoop)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus an extra handful)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 diced fresh mango
(Strawberries for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. If you have to use sweetened coconut, rinse the shreds in warm water for a few minutes. Strain out the water and rinse again. Wring excess water out of the coconut and spread it on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly brown.
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and salt and add the coconut. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for 1 hour.
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. Wring out the coconut as much as possible and then discard it.
Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl. 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.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the heated mixture into the extra cream as you stir then mix in the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to cool then chill it in the refrigerator (overnight preferably). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (typically around 20-25 minutes using a Cuisinart ice cream churn). Exact timing takes some experience as you don’t want to under or over churn. I find that the mixture is ready when it clings to a metal spoon. In the last minute of churning, slowly drop in small pieces of fresh mango and a handful of coconut shavings (optional, of course). Place the ice cream in a freezer until hard (several hours, if you have self control). Scoop and garnish with even more coconut and strawberries slices.