Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The World's Most Difficult-To-Make Toasted Coconut Low Carb Ice Cream

There’s a great ice cream book called “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz, which contains many unique and inventive recipes. The author seems very detailed oriented and committed to making the best ice cream that he can make. In other words, his recipes are usually very difficult to do. If I were going to make a coconut flavored ice cream, I’d take a sweet cream base, add vanilla and coconut extracts, and call it a day. Not David. His Toasted Coconut Ice Cream is made by “brewing” toasted unsweetened coconut in the cream and milk for an hour. He suggests using real vanilla beans, and of course, uses a cooked custard sweet cream base including five egg yolks. Reading his instructions left me with the impression that he must work as a professional chef. I say this because he doesn’t seem to care how may pots, saucepans, and bowls are necessary to accomplish his task. If you don’t have to wash the cookware afterwards, there’s not much incentive to minimize what ends up in the sink. I actually tried sketching out a storyboard of how this was going to work when finally, I threw my hands up and said, “I gotta rewrite this from scratch!” I don’t have any real vanilla beans, and I obviously won’t be using sugar, but I did try to remain faithful to the original recipe. I will be heating, straining, tempering, toasting, and steeping just like the pros, so this had better be worth it! Oh, and I’m adding some sliced almonds, too, because I can’t make “plain” ice cream no matter how complicated the process. I’m broken that way.

A digital kitchen scale is a utensil everyone should buy. Combining ingredients without using measuring cups is a huge time-saver. Many cookbooks are now listing gram equivalents, but they’re often incorrect. Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut is 100 grams to the cup. The author listed only 70 grams. Perhaps different brands yield different results. I noticed his volume/weight conversions for cocoa are different from my experience, too, so you should always verify the measurements at least once with your own equipment.

Cooking the milk, cream, and eggs into a custard requires additional liquid since it inevitably evaporates a lot in the cooking process. I’ve tried to estimate the correct amount of cream and milk, but I’ve come up short both times.

Instead of whole milk, I’m using a little extra heavy cream and Blue Diamond Original Unsweetened Breeze Almond/Coconut Milk Blend. I think this product works better as a milk replacement than regular almond milk. Plus, this ice cream is coconut based, so there’s that, too. I didn’t opt for adding unsweetened coconut milk from a can since that adds extra viscosity and carbohydrates. If this recipe didn’t involve a cooked custard, canned coconut milk might have been an option.

This recipe requires a small pot with a fitting lid, a thermometer, a strainer, and two cookie sheets. I only use four egg yolks since I make marshmallows frequently and that uses four egg whites each time. The author doesn’t specify the temperature recommended to infuse the toasted coconut into the dairy mixture. All he says is to “warm” it. What the hell does that mean? I looked up temperatures to make tea and they range between the mid 170s to 200s. I figured coconut is a lot thicker and heartier than tea leaves, so the closer to boiling, the better.



½ cup (50 g) almond slices, roasted
¼ cup (25 g) almond slices, raw
1 cup (100 g) Bob’s Red Mill Shredded Coconut Unsweetened
2¼ cups (536 g) heavy cream, divided
1 cup (242 g) Blue Diamond Original Unsweetened Breeze Almond/Coconut Milk Blend
1½ tablespoons Truvia
Big pinch salt
4 large egg yolks
21 drops EZ-Sweetz
1 tablespoon (18 g) vegetable glycerin
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ teaspoon Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener
½ tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Take ¼ cup (25 g) of sliced raw almonds and put it in an empty ice cream container upright in the freezer. This serves two purposes: it keeps the container cold and it forces you to make sure that there’s space in the freezer.
  2. Put ½ cup (50 g) of sliced almonds on a cookie sheet. Put the unsweetened shredded coconut on another cookie sheet. Place both in the oven for 5 - 8 minutes at 350 °F. Stir the coconut periodically to enure it all gets toasted evenly. When the coconut is done, remove it from the oven.

    Toasted coconut.

    The almonds may require a little more time. Remove the almonds and store them in the ice cream container in the freezer.
  3. In a small pot, add 1 cup of heavy cream (232 g), the Blue Diamond Unsweetened Breeze Almond/Coconut Milk Blend, Truvia, salt, and toasted coconut. Heat on stove top at medium heat until it reaches approximately 200 °F while stirring periodically.

    Mixture heated to 200 degrees.

    Remove from heat and cover tightly. Let it steep for 1 hour.
  4. Rewarm the coconut-infused mixture on medium-low to about 170 °F to 175 °F.

    Custard at 170 degrees.

    Set a mesh strainer over a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup and strain the coconut-infused liquid through the strainer.

    Straining out toasted coconut.
    Straining out toasted coconut.

    Press down on the coconut very firmly with a flexible rubber spatula to extract as much of the flavor from it as possible. Scrape out any coconut remnants from the pot using the spatula and pour the coconut-infused liquid back into the pot and return it to the heat. Discard the coconut*.
  5. Add the egg yolks to the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup and whisk them together. Slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the pot and return it to the stove top. Add the remaining 1¼ cups (298 g) heavy cream and EZ-Sweetz to the Pyrex measuring cup, and put the strainer on top of it.
  6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.

    Custard sticking to spatula.

    The temperature should not exceed 175 °F. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.

    Custard strained into mixing cup.

    Mix in the xanthan gum or Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener.
  7. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Add glycerin, and vanilla extract after it’s cooled.

    Mixed and ready for the ice cream maker.

  8. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready.
  9. Follow your ice cream maker’s directions for making ice cream. One to two minutes before the ice cream is done, add the almonds. Use a silicone spatula to remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and freeze until solid.
Scoop of ice cream.

* I couldn’t just throw away all that semi-sweet toasted coconut, so I saved it in the refrigerator...

Discarded toasted coconut.

...and sprinkled some on top of the ice cream!

Scoop of ice cream with toasted coconut.

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