Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coconut love

What a difference a week makes. Last week it was cold, dark and raining almost every day and now the sun is shining, with the occasional rainstorms of course because this is the Netherlands after all, and it’s really hot. It’s proper summer around here and what’s better to have during days like these than a cold dessert in the form of round icy scoops of coconut deliciousness.

S and I have declared this the year of the ice cream. We have been indulging in homemade ice cream for more than a couple of months now, through rain or shine, warm or cold weather, and we have officially become addicted.

One of my latest obsessions is coconut and I’ve been using it in many of its forms in every type of dish. Coconut oil for pan-frying fish and steak, coconut flour and sugar for waffles and cakes, coconut milk for smoothies, desiccated coconut for ice creams.

I have tried several coconut ice cream versions with various results, yet I always return to this one. It’s a keeper. It is pure, authentic ice cream, with no nonsense ingredients but the stuff proper ice cream should be made off; eggs, milk, cream.

It’s rich, smooth and creamy and it coats your tongue with its velvety texture while the full flavor of exotic coconut lingers on. But you know me, I always need my chocolate fix, so I had to pair the ice cream with a chocolate sauce. Not just any chocolate sauce though, a chocolate sauce that once you pour it onto the cold ice cream, it hardens and becomes a beautiful shell that cracks with the touch of a spoon.

It’s like those shells that store-bought ice creams have and that you think you can never recreate at home. It turns out, you can, and it can also be healthy and ridiculously easy, with only two ingredients: dark chocolate and coconut oil. It takes five minutes to make and it is spectacular. Frankly, I wanted to pour it over everything but I restrained myself. Even if you don’t end up trying this heavenly ice cream, which you would be crazy not to, you should at least try this insanely delicious chocolate sauce.

PS 1 A little while ago, the site New Diaspora asked me for an interview (ooh that sounded fancy!). If you're interested in learning a few more things about me, then click here to read it.

PS 2 I changed the blog’s header, sidebar, social media buttons and text font and I’m so excited because I have wanted to do this for a while but never could find the time. I made all the changes myself, and being a total novice on matters of design, it makes me even more proud of the outcome. I felt my little space here needed to be rejuvenated and a picture of chocolate sorbet with berries for my header did the trick. By the way, you can see it on this post.

Hope you like it, tell me what you think!

Coconut Ice Cream
Slightly adapted from The prefect scoop

The coconut flavor in this ice cream comes from desiccated coconut that’s been toasted and then steeped into the milk. It gives the ice cream a robust flavor of coconut without being overwhelming.

Yield: about 1 liter

70 g desiccated coconut
150 g caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt
250 ml fresh, whole milk
500 cream, full-fat (35%)
5 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: fine sieve, ice cream maker (optional yet preferable)

In a small skillet, add the desiccated coconut and place over medium-low heat. Toast, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the coconut starts releasing its aroma and begins to brown. As soon as you notice that it starts to change color and darken, turn heat down to low and be extra vigilant as the coconut can burn easily. Continue toasting and stirring non-stop until the coconut has taken on a golden to light-brown color. If at any point you smell that it’s burning, remove from the heat and stir well. The process of toasting will take about 4 minutes.
Empty the coconut in a bowl.

In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, salt, milk and 250ml of the cream. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is warm but not hot; don’t bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the toasted coconut and stir well. Cover the pan with the lid and let steep for 1 hour at room temperature.

After the hour has passed, rewarm the mixture over medium heat. Again, be careful not to bring it to the boil. Set a fine sieve over a medium-sized bowl and pass the coconut-infused mixture through the sieve and into the bowl, pressing down on the coconut with a flexible rubber spatula to extract as much of the liquid and flavor as possible. Discard the coconut.

In another medium-sized bowl, add the remaining 250ml of cream and set over it the fine sieve.
In a third medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks and using a wire whisk, whisk well. Very slowly, pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking quickly and continuously so the eggs don’t curdle. Pour mixture into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, making sure to keep scraping the bottom of the pan. Stir the mixture until it thickens and coats the spatula.

Pour the custard through the fine sieve and into the bowl containing the cream. Stir well with a spatula until well blended and add the vanilla extract. Stir well.

Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and a little water, and place the bowl with the ice cream mixture on top. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula in order to cool it down. Once cool, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Then whisk the mixture and pour it into your ice cream maker. Continue, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Alternatively, if you don't have an ice cream maker, empty the chilled ice cream mixture into a container suitable for the freezer. Put mixture in the freezer, take it out after 40 minutes and whisk it very well. You can also beat it with a spatula vigorously (or you can use a blender, or even a stick blender).
Continue doing the same thing every half hour, until it's too thick and frozen to beat or whisk. The whole process will take about two and a half hours.

Chocolate Sauce/Shell for ice cream
Adapted from Jeni’s splendid ice cream at home

I only use unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil because it’s healthy and has no chemical additives. It has the flavor and aroma of coconut, more or less prominent depending on the brand. In this sauce, you can certainly taste it along with the chocolate.
Perhaps some of you don’t enjoy the flavor of coconut but if you use flavorless/odorless coconut oil it will most probably be refined and thus unhealthy for you. Also, the flavor and texture of the sauce won’t be pleasant. It is in fact terrible; believe me I’ve tried it.

Coconut oil must be kept at room temperature and like butter, it has a high melting point, which means that it melts very easily and it hardens as soon as you chill it. At room temperature, in the summer it is liquid whereas in the winter it is hard.

Yield: about 280 ml

200 good quality dark chocolate (55-70%), chopped
100 g extra virgin coconut oil

Place the chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (bain marie) and melt, stirring often. The bottom of the bowl must not come in contact with the simmering water. Stir gently with a rubber spatula and once the mixture is smooth and melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan and set aside to cool slightly.

Pour it over your cold ice cream, be a little patient and watch it harden after 30-50 seconds. Dig in with your spoon and crack it open.

You can use it immediately or keep it covered, at room temperature until you want to use it. If it hardens, melt it again using your microwave or in a bain-marie.


  1. Magda,

    First...I LOVE the new design...header is beautiful and the fonts and social icons fit right in. I'm a computer programmer but don't do much graphics, but I know good graphics when I see them and this is very good!

    Now to the ice cream. I am on a coconut kick myself: pineapple-coconut-ginger frozen bars (popsicles). I don't have an ice cream machine but I've made ice cream as you described and it is not that hard to do so will give this a try. It looks and sounds wonderful.

    Happy year of the ice cream :) !!

  2. Coconut ice cream is always one of my favourites and every time I eat it I'm reminded of the gorgeous stuff I ate by the lake in Hanoi. I really ought to make it at home more often.

  3. around here we are back to winter. Actually, it was snowing at Serra da Estrela, the highest portuguese peak - tourists were surprised by the snow, lol!
    So, no ice-cream so far, we still want comfort food! Who would imagine that our atlantic warm coast with still have bad weather by this time of the year?

  4. wow, Magda--so much more than coconut to love about this post. I am thrilled to have the recipe for the chocolate shell--which I've not made before and have long wanted to. Your new header and font changes are terrific. And I enjoyed your interview at New Diaspora. Congratulations! Nancy

  5. What a great post! I am coconut obsessed and don't understand when people don't like it :) This ice cream looks SO delicious!!

  6. Liz — oh that's such a compliment coming from you! Thank yous o much for your nice words. I hope you get the chance to make this ice cream, you will not regret it :)

    john — Hanoi... that sounds so far away! You must make it, homemade is always the best.

    Ondina Maria — for me, ice cream is an all-weather dessert. I even eat it during winter I love it so much. Can't imagine it's snowing there now so weird! The weather has gone mad, the climate is changing, it is terrifying actually. Hope you get to try the ice cream when it gets warm there!

    Nancy — I'm just now starting to realize that this chocolate shell is quite popular in the US. When I saw it on Jeni's ice cream book I couldn't wait to make. Do try it, it's awesome!

    We are not Martha — hmmm me neither, I love coconut! But there's no arguing with someones tastes in food right? :)

  7. I too have made This recipe from the perfect scoop and loved. It, it was a success. So creamy this ice cream. Now... If you're doing so many ice creams I'm sure you end up with tons of egg whites. What do you do with them? I am stopped from making more ice cream because I know the egg whites will go to waste!

    1. You could use the whites for coconut macaroons. They are yummy, particularly if you love coconut. You could sprinkle them on your ice cream for some crunch!

    2. Inesa, I use the egg whites to make omelettes or meringues.

  8. I love coconut. So does Mark. This will be a perfect ending for any number of our Asian meals. I have one question - and I think I know the answer - is your coconut unsweetened? Here in the States, we are offered both, and the unsweetened is harder to find than the sweet. Thanks, Magda - I will report back when I have made this! ~ David

    1. Here in the Netherlands, as well as in Greece as a matter of fact, the supermarkets only sell unsweetened coconut, so that's what I use. I hope you enjoy it!

    2. That is what I thought. Only the U.S. would sell ridiculous amounts of sweetened coconut! :)

    3. Cocoa and Lavender,

      If not in your local stores, Amazon has a wonderful non-sweetened coconut in several variations: it is 'Let's do Organic" brand.

      I buy fine shredded as will as the "cream".

      Just search "Let's do Organic".

      I'm in rural Northwest Montana and my local grocer has all so I must believe that it should be accessible where you are.

    4. Thanks, Liz - found it on Amazon and am going to try the new Whole Foods when it opens. The creamed coconut sounds really good, too, so I am going to try that in something, as well.

  9. P.S. - I forgot to say that I enjoyed the article in the New Diaspora. If considering other cities for living, has anyplace in the U.S. made your list of possibilities?

    1. Hi David! Hmm I've never been to the US and to be honest the only city that really appeals to me is NYC. I don't think I could ever live in the US though, but who knows what the future holds... :)

    2. You MUST visit the U.S. someday. I think you would love San Francisco, but also Boston and Chicago. And I have to put in a plug for the Southwest - it is so incredibly diverse a landscape, and so beautiful! At least come visit! :)

    3. I didn't mean to sound dismissive of the other parts of the US. It's just that I'm such fan of NYC from all the movies I've seen. I blame it on Woody Allen :) I would LOVE to visit other places too. San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, and I would love to visit you and Mark in Arizona!!! :) xox

    4. It didn't sound dismissive at all! Given a choice, I would live in Europe, too! :) Mark and I will expect you and S. at our doorstep sometime in the near future! :)

  10. Magda, your last posts are right up my alley! I admit coconut was not really on my list of favorites, but I am coming around. Like the new design of the blog and wish I could do these things myself as well!

  11. I enjoyed reading the interview. As an Australian, I love that our country has been enriched with migrants for so long we can find any cuisine we wish to eat. My particular love is Mediterranean, and I found your blog long ago looking for the Gemista. I've tried a few more of your 'basic' recipes, those favourites of your childhood. They are so delicious. Your instructions and photographs are excellent, it's such a pleasure to visit your blog. My best wishes to you Magda.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, I'm glad you enjoy my recipes and blog. My best wishes to you as well!

  12. I had to go over and read your interview Magda! It was so nice to learn more about you! :D BTW I am totally with you on the love of coconut. It's one of my favourite ingredients :)

  13. I just love coconut and can't wait to try this. This looks super smooth and delicious!