Anything made with fresh coconut holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in Florida I was surrounded by coconut palms around every corner. My brother even planted a few trees in our back yard that he started from coconuts. Our Mom was not one to go through the trouble of cracking one open to use the delicious meat inside but my brother was. Even though I was a picky eater as a child (my dad would be shocked I’m a food writer), I tried coconut one time when my brother open one and I’ve never looked back. One of the many great times of my childhood. There were lots of great times as a kid, especially since I have a great brother!
So the first time I had coconut ice cream was on a trip to Fiji. It was at the Matamanoa Island Resort. Dessert one evening was coconut ice cream rolled in coconut. First, I should explain that Matamanoa is an island off the main island of Viti Levu in the South Pacific. Everything needs to be imported to the island, except coconuts. There is an abundance of palm trees on the island. Coconut ice cream seemed to be a natural. That ice cream was the nectar of the Gods. It is one of my favorite food memories, my husband’s too, and it was about 20 years ago. Funny how some memories stay with you.
My husband asked me to make that ice cream after the trip. It only took me a few years! When I told him I was making a fresh coconut ice cream at first he was excited. Then he asked me if I knew how to crack open a coconut, because he had no idea. I laughed, told him yes and proceeded to show him how. In a nutshell you take a phillips head screwdriver and poke it through the eyes on the coconut. The brown coconut, not one in the green outer shell. Once the eyes are pierced, drain the water inside into a cup and save for later. Then take a hammer and crack open the shell. Once open, you need to take a butter knife and wedge it between the meat and shell to pry it off. Then you much peel the remaining brown skin. A lot of work, I know, but you are rewarded with a delicious treat. Plus, once you’ve done it you’ll be hooked and you’ll feel like you can do anything.
- 2 cans (13.5 ounce) of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of fresh grated coconut
- Coconut or toasted coconut to garnish
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the coconut milk, cream and sugar, heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool completely then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before churning.
- Add the mixture to your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mix until you reach the desired consistency.
- Add the freshly grated coconut once the mixture thickens and is ready to be transferred to a freezer container.
- Freeze until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. Garnish with toasted coconut or coconut upon serving.
- To toast coconut: In a small skillet over low heat melt a small amount of butter (about a teaspoon per cup of grated coconut). Once melted, add coconut and stir to coat. Allow to toast (be patient) stirring occasionally, being extremely careful not to burn the coconut. Once toasted, spread out on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container until ready to use.