Ms. Heatter describes this ice cream as follows: "smooth as honey, rich as Rockefeller, with an evasive but tantalizing coconut flavor."
I call it manna from heaven and, as ice creams go, it's almost as fabulous as the rhubarb ice cream I posted this spring. And that's really saying something!
Maida is from Miami, a dessert genius, and she explains this recipe is a result of experimenting by some of her Cuban/American friends along with some adaptation from a recipe by Roland Mesnier, who was pastry chef at the White House for many years. Her books don't include all that many ice cream recipes, but when you see one, you can be certain it will be a winner.
Serving suggestions: in a real coconut half sprinkled with browned shredded coconut, or with fresh strawberries, or the most decadent of all: covered in bittersweet chocolate sauce.
I wanted the coconut flavor to shine through and it's very rich, so I served it in some teacups belonging to a tea service made from coconuts I found years ago on a trip to Hawaii.
Little Havana Coconut Ice Cream
From Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
4 cups light cream (NOT half and half, but real coffee cream)
12 ounces packaged shredded sweetened coconut (and a little extra if you want to toast some for the top)
16 egg yolks, graded large
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canned Cream of Coconut (I used 3 tablespoons)
(Coco Lopez is the brand and it's found where you find mixed drink components in your supermarket)
Place 1 1/2 cups of the whipping cream (reserve the remaining 1 cup) in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the light cream and the coconut. Bring to a low boil and then simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Take off the burner and let stand for 30 minutes.
Using a very fine strainer, strain the mixture, pressing down on the coconut to get all the liquid out. Ms. Heatter suggests straining through a linen dishtowel, but I used some gauze. Squeeze the gauze hard. Discard the coconut.
In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cream of coconut for several minutes. Remove from mixer and slowly add the strained coconut milk mixture. Place in another heavy saucepan over medium to low heat and cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon or reaches 175 degrees on a thermometer. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. The eggs will curdle and you'll have to start all over.
Immediately, to stop the cooking, pour through another strainer, add the last cup of whipping cream, and stir until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Freeze following manufacturer's directions.
Makes a generous 2 quarts.