A few years back I was working for a chef who had just devised a new menu. On the dessert list he had created a dish that required coconut ice cream as the garnish. Charged with the task of finding a decent coconut ice cream recipe, I set forth to my library. What I found was a dearth of decent recipes. For some reason, perfectly good cookbooks faltered at the finishing line, that is with desserts and in particular, coconut ice cream. Every recipe called for canned coconut milk, coconut powder or desiccated coconut. I think you can guess the end of the story, all these recipes ended up tasting canned, powdered and desiccated.

Enter the fresh coconut. They are reasonably easy to find and the flavour they impart is irreplaceable. Don't even bother with cans if you want to make this deliciously tropical ice cream, the secret lies within the husk.


  • 500ml (1 pint) full cream milk
  • 500ml (1 pint) cream (35 % butterfat)
  • 1 coconut
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 350 gm (11 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • Method

    Crack open the coconut with a cleaver or hammer (drink the liquid inside because its yummy) and peel off the outer husk. Using a small sharp knife, remove most of the inner husk. Coarsely grate the flesh of the coconut and combine with the milk in a saucepan. Bring gently to the simmer and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.

    Put the egg yolks and sugar into a stainless steel bowl and whisk to combine. Reheat the milk, then pour slowly onto the yolks, whisking constantly. Wipe out the saucepan and pour in the coconut mix. Set over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture reaches 81°C (170°F) on a sugar thermometer. On the fair chance that you don't own one of these, the custard is done when it coats your stirring spoon when lifted from the pot. Be careful not to over cook as the egg yolk protein will set and form lumps.

    You now need to cool this mix as quickly as possible and there are two options. The first method is to have a bowl of iced water with a second bowl sitting on top then pour in the hot custard to cool. Alternatively have a large, low-sided tray ready and just pour the custard into that, using maximum surface area to cool the mixture.

    When the custard has cooled completely, strain and press on the coconut solids to extract as much flavour as possible. Stir in the cream and churn in your ice cream machine. Freeze for 6 hours before serving.

  • For added texture and extravagance, try shaving fresh coconut flesh and toasting it lightly before stirring through the churned but unfrozen ice cream.
  • I have not tried it, but it sounds like good advice to me, anthropod recommends freshly grated nutmeg in coconut ice cream