by Shumaila

To be in Kerala (a state in the south of India), and not make something coconutey– it just won’t do! Coconut grows in abundance here, and consequently, grated coconut and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries as a thickener and flavoring ingredient. So a coconut dish was definitely called for.

While still figuring out how to use the coconut, the other day we went this gelato place and I tasted coconut ice cream and that was it! That’s what I would use the coconut for! Summer has already hit Kerala. Well, it never actually went. Like some one put it the other day- it only gets hot, hotter and hottest here. Thus, it was decided- coconut ice cream it would be! What better way to beat the heat!

Now, I don’t have an ice cream maker- don’t have it in my house nor at my parent’s house. But, still I wanted to try my hand at homemade ice cream. Yes, I dream big! I used to have an ice cream maker when I was in first grade- you know the manual one- the kiddie kinds- and over the years, of course it gave way. I want to buy one, but the lack of space and budget tells me to wait some more.

But, as of now I don’t have one. So, I turned to whom I always do when in trouble—– Google. And, that’s where I found David Lebovitz’s post on making ice cream without an ice cream maker. Thank you Mr. Lebovitz for coming to my rescue!

Meanwhile, my mom wanted to throw a formal dinner and call a few people before I leave for Delhi (which I do tomorrow). And she gave me the responsibility of dessert and a few other dishes. Perfect- I can impress her guests with home made coconut ice cream! My mom just refused to believe that I could pull it off- that I would me able to make nice smooth home made ice cream. She insisted I would end up with ice crystals and nothing else. She tried her best and kept giving me ideas for other desserts I could try. She wanted me to make my flourless chocolate cake– but it’s just so difficult to find baking ingredients here that I had to squash her hope of having that cake.

Anyways, I told her to give me a chance and if it didn’t turn out to meet her high expectations I would make some other dessert. But, when she tasted it she just could not believe how good it turned out. In fact, yesterday, after the dinner , she was like it was the best thing she had.

Next time I’ll try using coconut cream, though I don’t have an idea how the science behind it will work! Would also like to add Malibu thought of it this time, but did not have either on hand). Also do check out David’s tips on how to make home made ice cream more smooth!

The ice cream is not too sweet. In fact, a little maple syrup on top won’t hurt. I put bits of the spun sugar I made- so anyone who wanted a little sugar could bite into that.

I also decided to serve the ice cream in spun sugar bowls. Like I mentioned, I dream big! I got the idea from here. I just loved the site- its so creative and beautiful. Anyways, it wasn’t an easy task. I got burned my finger. The first attempt I got perfect bowl shape and the color was a nice deep amber (as seen in the picture)- but I did burn the sugar a little and the bowls were a little bitter. I wanted the bowls to be edible- just in case someone decided to have a piece from it. So I went for attempt two. The color was a lighter amber, and the sugar wasn’t burnt but the bowls broke on unmolding. This attempt was where my mom burned her finger! Third attempt I got the same light amber color (I was a little scared of overdoing the sugar and burning it- a candy thermometer would have surely helped!). Since, the first two attempts I had difficulty in unmolding the sugar from the bowls, I thought of making a round design on a flat surface covered with aluminum foil and before the spun sugar cools, quickly mold it in the desired shape. But, one has to be really quick in doing so. While the one or two pieces I could mold into bowls, the rest had cooled and hardened into flat plates, albeit beautiful. Anways, lessons learnt for next time!

P.S: Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!


Adapted from here & here


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups coconut, grated- 1 cup toasted


  1. Toast 1 cup coconut at 180 C till evenly browned. (When toasting coconut, keep checking and flipping the flakes, so that they are evenly browned.)
  2. Heat the coconut milk, salt, sugar in a saucepan. Add 1 cup coconut in the milk. Cover, remove from heat and let the flavors infuse for atleast 2 hours.
  3. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath. Pour the heavy cream through a strainer into a bowl put over the ice bath.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks.
  5. Rewarm the milk, the gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly.
  6. Add the warm yolk-milk mixture back into the saucepan. Let cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the custard thickens to coat the spatula/spoon.
  7. Strain custard into the heavy cream that has been put in a plastic bowl or something that would be durable in the freezer . Stir over the ice bath until cool. Add vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly, overnight.
  8. Next day, put the bowl, uncovered in the freezer.
  9. After forty-five minutes, check the mixture. If crystals are forming on the sides of the dish, take it out and stir vigorously with a spatula or a hand beater (the latter preferred, in case you are not too confident of your manual strength!).
  10. Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it’s freezing. Once it reaches soft serve consistency, add the toasted coconut flakes.
  11. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. I did this for 4 hours.
  12. Once frozen, cover the bowl and keep in the freezer. Try eating it immediately, which like David puts it won’t be a problem 😉 ! (I suggest removing the ice cream from the freezer and putting in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes before serving, so that it would be easier to scoop)


In a clean saucepan, add 1/2 cup water. Heat over medium heat. Add 1 cup sugar in a mound. Pat slightly with fingers, till all the sugar is moistened. Cover and let cook covered till all the sugar dissolves. (Do not stir with a spoon, if required then just swirl the pan). Keep covered till the sugar turns a pale amber yellow. Remove lid once amber yellow and turn heat to low. Now keep a close watch. As soon as it turns a little reddish amber, switch off the gas. (Candy thermometer shoudl register 310-320 F Let cool for 1-2 minutes. Now they are two methods that I found useful to make the molds and am giving both. While the first one gives perfect bowls, it it a little difficult to unmold without breaking. For the second method, you have to work quick. remember to put newspapers on the work surface and on the floor. There will be a mess, I assure you!

Method 1

Cover the back of the bowls with aluminium foil. Grease them very well. Once the sugar has cooled to pouring consistency, dip the twines of the fork in the sugar and move up and down in criss-crosses over the bowls. Let cool. Once cool, remove the foil and put in freezer, trying to keep the shape of the bowl intact. Keep for 5 minutes. remove from fridge and tear off the aluminium foil. (When pouring the sugar, try to keep the strings a little thick- it would make it easier to remove. Plus, when you pour the sugar on the flat part of the bowl, try to cover it, so that you have a flat surface to put your ice cream or dessert in.)

Method 2

Cover work surface completely with aluminium foil. Grease generously. Once sugar has cooled to pouring consistency, dip a spoon in the sugar and pour it on the foil. Make a 1 inch circle with sugar and then move the spoon up and down around the circle to make criss crosses. As soon as the sugar starts to cool, (be careful to not touch the hot sugar else you will burn your fingers!), remove the design from the foil and with your hands make a bowl shape and put in the freezer to cool. Voila!

It is tricky but the results are so great that I find it worth the effort!