Cold Things Desserts

toasted coconut dulce de leche ice cream recipe

coconut and Scotland: a perfect match


Living in East Anglia, England for a short part of my childhood conjures up memories of green meadows, Cambridge University college gardens (the flora unparalleled to anything I’ve seen since), and the ubiquitous cathedrals and stained-glass windows. Influenced by caricatures and history books at that time, I expected Scotland more gray, rocky, and blustery than England.

After tolerating the cramped quarters holding our family of six in a Renault 4 and the choke of car exhaust, we entered the craggy green of Scotland for one of our first family holidays. Overnight we slept off the buzz of the road in our ears, then headed outside to the sunny bloom and scent of the golden gorse. The gold swept up the hillsides, a spotty blanket sweetly scented with coconut. When I first noticed the odor, I thought my nose was playing tricks on me. Was someone actually sunbathing and wearing tanning oil? In this cool weather? Beach-side cocktails and waving palm trees may recall tropical memories for most people. For me, it is Scotland.


The spiky golden gorse is known for its toasted coconut scent, seemingly out of place in the highlands of Scotland. I saw little gray that trip, save for the early morning skies, some rocky cliffs, and little bluster excepting the gruff Bed and Breakfast host on our way home in Northern England who didn’t seem to like children much.

So here is my offering to that memory: toasted coconut dulce de leche ice cream. Start by making my slow cooker dulce de leche the day prior. When deciding on what type of coconut milk/cream to use, use this guide: Heavy whipping cream = 38% fat; Coconut cream = 29% fat; Coconut milk = 20-22% fat. Mouth feel for ice cream is important, and fat content can affect that. (There are other components also, like air and ice crystals. Too much to get into here. We’ll just be simpletons for now.) I found using between 25-29% fat from the coconut milk makes mouth feel about right for me. Similarly, this is why you don’t see homemade custard-based ice cream recipes using only heavy cream (38% fat): it would be too heavy. It’s usually a mixture of cream and milk (or, in our case today, heavy cream and coconut cream). In this coconut ice cream recipe, feel free to use the coconut milk (20-22% fat) if you prefer something a bit lighter.

Off to think of Scotland…and coconut.


One year ago: tomato-sunflower seed pâté and ninjago frosting redux (Grub’s fourth birthday)

Two years ago: turtle cupcakes (Grub’s third birthday)

Three years ago: turbinado sugar cookies (Grub’s second birthday) and no-knead bread and croutons

Four years ago: plum kuchen and pimento cheese and pear galette (Grub’s first birthday)


My next post will be Grub’s FIFTH birthday! Already!

toasted coconut dulce de leche ice cream recipe
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 14 ounces (about 1¾ cup) unsweetened cream of coconut (Or replace with one 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk. See notes in post on mouth feel.)
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks (use 5 if using coconut milk instead of coconut cream)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • about ¼ cup homemade dulce de leche (See my previous post on this. I do this in a slow cooker and it takes 8 hours, so plan accordingly.)*
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of whipping cream and all of the cream of coconut. Add sugar and heat over medium low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot but not boiling.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale yellow in color.
  3. Carefully and slowly pour the hot mixture in the egg yolks, whisking to temper eggs.
  4. When mixed, add in the remaining cup of whipping cream. Pour back into the saucepan and reheat to simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, thick enough to leave a clean trail when running your finger through the coating. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat. Strain through a sieve.
  5. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill in fridge overnight.
  6. Once chilled, prepare the coconut. Toast coconut at 350 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes on a baking sheet, or until nicely golden. Set aside to cool.
  7. While coconut is cooling, follow your ice cream machine's directions; my Cuisinart took about 15 minutes. While the ice cream is churning, sprinkle in your toasted coconut, reserving a handful for later garnish.
  8. When churn is complete, scoop ¼ to ⅓ of the ice cream into your storage container. Dollop on a spoonful or two of the dulce de leche and gently swirl. Do this for the remaining ice cream and dulce de leche. Store ice cream in an airtight container and keep frozen.
  9. When serving, sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut.
* I found any more dulce de leche makes the ice cream too sweet for most people. A little dulce de leche goes a long way.



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