July 14, 2008

La Gringa's toasted coconut ice cream

La Gringa's Toasted Coconut Ice CreamLa Gringa's Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

We are going to start at the very beginning. We started with this:

Drinking coconut juice
Here in La Ceiba, Honduras, fresh coconut juice is sold in the shell with a straw like you see here. (Ten lempiras or about 50 US cents.) El Jefe brought this home for me the other day. To be perfectly honest, I'm not wild about the coconut liquid. It's okay, but a coconut picked too young for the juice just seems like a waste of wonderful coconut fruit to me. But to each his own.

coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasAs I was drinking it, I noticed the top where it had been cut by the machete. I said, "That looks like real coconut." El Jefe said that he specifically asked for a "hard" coconut so I could have some coconut meat instead of the jelly-like pulp that is in the younger cocos (coconuts). I started picking at it with my Exacto knife, and yes, it was hard coconut meat.

Cutting coconut with macheteSo, after we drank the coconut liquid, El Jefe took the coco down to the garage and gave it good whack with the machete. No Honduran household is complete with a machete. They have many uses. I asked him what someone should do if they didn't have a machete. He said Google it. ;-) Or you could check at Kate's Global Kitchen.

coconut cut with macheteThis is the whacked coconut. Nicely done, El Jefe! He said that after you drink the juice, if you don't have a machete, you can throw the coconut against a wall to break it open.

scooping out coconut meat with a spoonThen El Jefe was able to scrape the meat out with a spoon. It was difficult and left some brown remnants on the outside of the coco pieces. I easily scraped those off with a paring knife. El Jefe said that people here don't bother to do that, but I like for it to look pretty.

I had completely forgotten Sharon's great tip about placing the whole coconut in the oven for about 15 minutes. Sharon says that that makes it easier to get out the coconut meat and doesn't affect it all. Well, next time.

coconut meat removed from shellWe ate about half of the meat as we were preparing it and had this much left − not much. Not enough for a cake or pie, so I started thinking about using it in ice cream. I looked up some recipes and then began thinking that the ice cream would be even better with toasted coconut. Oh, how right I was.

First I should say that I'm no coconut expert. As I mentioned in a previous article, I always thought coconut came in a plastic bag, pre-shredded and pre-sweetened. (Just partially kidding here.) ;-D

shredding coconut in food processorI had these chunks of coconut and I couldn't see my lazy self shredding it piece by piece, so I threw it all in the Cuisinart food processor and let 'er rip. For a while it didn't look like that was going to work but finally it came around. I was worried that it was going to liquefy the whole mess before it ever got shredded but I ended up with a heaping half a cup of shredded coconut which seemed like a good amount for a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker.

toasting coconut in ovenI didn't have a clue how to toast it, but I spread the shredded coconut out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled it with a little of the sugar from the ice cream recipe and baked it at 350°F. I turned and stirred up the coconut about every 5 minutes. It seemed to be coming along nicely so I ran upstairs to Google to find out how to toast coconut yeah, the order of events is a little screwy.

toasted coconutI found I was on exactly the right track, except the various recipes said to toast it for anywhere from 2 minutes to about 15 minutes and my coconut was at about 25 minutes. Yikes, so I ran back downstairs, a little too late. Darn! That last 5 minutes was a killer.

toasted coconutIt got a little too brown but was still salvageable. It tasted good, even though it was browner than I wanted. Live and learn. The photo of the pan makes it look even more brown than it was.

So here is my recipe:

La Gringa's Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 14 oz. can heavy cream*

1 15 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk**

1/2 cup shredded, toasted coconut***

milk to fill your container to the proper level****

Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with about a tablespoon of the sugar. Toast in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, 20 minutes if coconut is fresh. Check and turn the coconut every 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

mixing ice creamBeat the eggs with a wire whisk for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar while whisking. Stir in the cream, coconut milk, and coconut. Add enough milk to reach the amount required for your ice cream maker. For my 1 1/2 quart Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, I use about 5 cups of liquid.

Chill the mixture thoroughly and then freeze in your ice cream maker.

coconut ice cream in ice cream makerGosh, I hate that I have to give so many caveats! That's one reason I don't do too many recipes. I can never seem to follow a recipe exactly, instead picking this idea from one recipe and that idea from another, and then forgetting what I did or how much I used.

* I cannot find fresh cream here. It may be sold but I don't know where. In place of the canned cream you could, of course, and it would be preferable, use two cups of fresh cream.

** This wasn't my original recipe
I intended to use cream of coconut but El Jefe couldn't find it at the store so he bought coconut milk instead. As it turns out, I didn't realize the coconut cream is generally sold already (very) sweetened. Since I had already started the recipe and added the sugar, it was a lucky break that he couldn't find the coconut cream as the ice cream would have been way too sweet. So all this to say, if you would like to use cream of coconut and it is pre-sweetened, leave out the sugar completely, or add to taste if it needs it. The ice cream was plenty rich using the coconut milk.

cut coconut*** Of course, you lucky people in the first world can just pick up a package of toasted coconut in the grocery store, but if you are starting with a fresh coconut, it is definitely worth the little bit of extra effort to toast the coconut. Don't skip that step. You'll be glad you did it. ;-D

**** I seem to be in a complete brain fog lately due either to the shingles (they do say that it can affect thinking) or the drugs (they do say those can affect thinking, too). I completely forgot to add the milk and didn't even notice whether the machine was full or not. At the end, the machine was almost as full as usual so I think that the milk amount would have only been about 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

I could leave out all the screw-ups, just give you a recipe and act like an expert, but you know me. Gotta tell it all. I think it's good to show that the recipe is flexible and you can change what you want or need to.

This ice cream was REALLY good and very rich. I'll be making it again for sure. Wish you could come and have some with me. Let me know if you try making it.
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