Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cinnamon Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I nearly had a meltdown in the grocery store. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. There is a reason, really and truly, but it is a true story nonetheless.

For some time now, I’ve known that I need to go dairy-free. Gluten-free and yeast-free? Not that big a deal. But dairy-free? The thought alone makes me want to cry. Not for the butter, no (I already use mostly olive oil or coconut oil). Also, not for the ice cream or the milk. I only use almond milk at home and, while pricey, dairy-free ice cream is readily available. No, what really had me sad while standing in the middle of the store was the thought of giving up cheese. Oh. The cheese.

You see, I have yet to find a substitute that can hold it’s own against the real thing. (Except for, you know, in the healthy-for-you category...) Sure there are options (an image of the Daiya vegan “cheese” package comes to mind), but none of them live up to the reputation cheese has in my mind. I am a cheese lover. I have never met a cheese that I didn’t like. Cheddar, gouda, brie, bleu, stilton, ricotta, parmesan, manchego, chevre, provolone, swiss, you name it, I probably love it. And this is what I need to give up. Even now, I’m sitting on Pinterest searching phrases like “paleo cheese recipe” and “dairy-free cheese that’s not plastic”. The options right now are not looking so good.

To make up for the lack of dairy-free options over the past week, I made my first attempt at coconut milk ice cream. Believe me when I tell you that this recipe is easy. I managed to pull it all together with just a pot, a metal bowl, and a whisk --no blender, food processor, or ice cream maker needed (though it would probably be a LOT simpler and smoother if you did have one, it's not strictly necessary).

I started with this recipe from Paleo Diet Lifestyle (and didn't really vary that much, so the credit goes to them for developing this recipe). I'm not a huge advocate for the paleo diet, but it is very convenient to look at a list of paleo recipes and know that they're automatically dairy-, yeast- and gluten-free without any modifications.

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Seeds from two vanilla beans OR 4 tsp of vanilla extract (I actually used two sad, slightly-dried-out vanilla beans and about two teaspoons of homemade vanilla extract).
  • Sugar to taste (I did add sugar, but I added it little by little until it was sweet enough for me, so I don't actually know how much I put in. Plus, tastes vary so, what works for me may not for you.)
  • Cinnamon to taste (I think it was about 2 teaspoons)


Bring some water to a boil in a pot and then reduce to a simmer for the double boiler. Put the coconut milk in a heatproof metal bowl that will sit safely on top of your pot (without the bottom touching the simmering water). Add the vanilla. Make sure that the mixture doesn't boil. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and temper them with the hot milk mixture (slowly add small amounts of the hot milk to the eggs so that it will bring them up to temperature slowly without curdling them).  Add the milk-egg mixture to the rest of the milk in the double boiler and stir for a few minutes until it forms a thick custard (kind of like instant pudding consistency before it "gels".  Again, don't let it boil.

Remove from the heat and let it cool (so that it's cool to touch) before adding other ingredients. If you don't have an ice cream maker, put it in a pan and pop it in the freezer. What you will need to do is to set a timer for 30 minutes and stir it really well every thirty minutes for about three hours (I did this while watching a movie and it proved the perfect distraction).

Result? Super tasty, dairy-free ice cream. Easy to make, easy to clean up and perfect for quelling those dairy cravings.

Very bad picture that doesn't do justice to the deliciousness of this ice cream

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