Friday, July 9, 2010

Refresher Course

In the midst of the heatwave that seems to be taking over much of the country (it is the middle of summer, after all), a light, refreshing dessert is exactly what we all need. Ice cream, made with heavy cream or even whole milk, can even be a little heavy. Here is a recipe for a simple ice cream using coconut milk (perfect, if you're avoiding dairy). I hesitate to even call it "ice cream," since it doesn't contain any cream at all. It's nearly a sorbet or ice milk. No matter what you call it, it's the perfect follow-up to Thai food, BBQ, or burgers.

This is best prepared with an ice cream maker (I have a Krups ice cream maker, but Cuisinart's ice cream maker has a good reputation, too). I store the canister in my freezer at all time, just in case I get a craving for ice cream. Double check the manufacturer's recommendation for maximum liquid amount, since it will expand during the freezing process. The mixture should also be a little on the sweeter side, since freezing subdues the sweetness. One more thing. This ice cream really develops the best flavor if frozen further after being processed in the ice cream maker. So, this could be a 3 day process, although each step may take only a few moments.

Coconut Lime Ice Cream
2 cans (3 cups) Coconut Milk (Thai Kitchen makes an all natural one)
3-4 long Lime Zest Strips
3/4 cup Sugar
Lime Juice (for less tang, only 1-2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp Rose or Orange Flower Water, if desired

The day before making the ice cream, prepare the liquid. In a saucepan, warm the coconut milk, lime zest and sugar, until the sugar is dissolved. Taste for sweetness and add a little more sugar, if necessary. Remove from heat. In a one-cup measuring cup, add the lime juice and enough water to make one cup of liquid. The more lime juice added, the tangier the ice cream. Add lime juice and water. Strain mixture into a container, cover, and chill for at least 2-3 hours. The freezer canister should freeze for a minimum of 10 hours, or according to the manufacturer's directions.

To make the ice cream, remove the prepared liquid from the refrigerator and add the rose or orange flower water, if desired. Assemble the ice cream maker, turn it on, and pour in the liquid. Leave the machine on until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (20-40 minutes). It will be a little on the soft side. For best results, pour the ice cream into a freezable container and freeze until hard.

To serve, allow to thaw a little, stir until smooth, and spoon into serving bowls.

I brought some of this to my neighbors, and of course, we came up with a way to use this for a cocktail. In a blender, pour one shot of rum, a few scoops of Coconut Lime Ice Cream, and some ice. Blend and serve with a wedge of lime. A perfect Limon Colada.

It would be easy to come up with a handful of variations on this ice cream, too. Toasted pistachios and lime zest. Make the base recipe without the lime zest and juice, and add orange zest and juice or pineapple juice (there's your Pina Colada!). Add 1/4 cup grated coconut. Roughly chopped dark chocolate. Give me some time, I'll come up with more. I'm sure I'll be working on ideas for the next few days, while I eat a few bowls of Coconut Lime Ice Cream. I'm not even going to wait to have this after a nice meal. It just might BE the meal.

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