Coconut milk ice cream is a type of frozen dessert that relies on coconut milk rather than dairy milk for its creamy texture and taste. An excellent choice for vegans or lactose intolerant ice cream lovers, coconut milk ice cream is often available in a variety of flavors at specialty food stores. For those with an ice cream maker, coconut milk ice cream is easy to make at home, and can be used as a base for any favorite ice cream flavor.
One of the benefits of coconut milk ice cream is that it is lactose-free. This means that many brands are suitable for those with dairy allergies, celiac disease, or vegans. Some brands, as well as homemade versions, can also be made without gluten, providing an excellent dessert alternative for people with gluten allergies. In the interest of creating a healthier, dietary-restriction friendly dessert, some companies also produce coconut milk ice cream that is sugar-free or uses alternatives to white sugar, such as agave syrup.
Since the coconut flavor is generally subdued, coconut milk can be used to create almost any type of traditional ice cream flavor. Some popular commercial flavors include mint chip with dairy-free chocolate, cherry almond, and a wide range of chocolate-based flavors. For coconut lovers, there are also many flavors where the coconut taste is more pronounced, including coconut chocolate and pina colada.
Making a basic coconut milk ice cream at home requires only a few ingredients and one essential tool: an ice cream maker. Most recipes require the use of full-fat coconut milk for the best texture, but light coconut milk can also be substituted for a healthier dessert. Many homemade recipes rely on the custard-method of ice cream making, in which coconut milk, sugar, and eggs are cooked together until they form a thickened custard, then frozen with an ice cream maker.
To make a coconut milk ice cream base into different flavors, additives such as chocolate, vanilla, or flavored syrup may be added during the cooking stage. Additions like chocolate chips or swirls are usually added in the last few minutes of freezing, so that they do not melt or over-freeze. Ice cream mixtures that contain alcohol, such as rum raisin, may take longer to freeze than other varieties. With a little patience and some coconut milk, a delicious ice cream can be created out of nearly any combination of ingredients.