Maida Heatter's Little Havana Coconut Ice Cream

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.


  1. Oh, I can almost taste it - sinnfully delicious§

  2. A luscious ice cream!



  3. I've yet to make ice cream this summer. It has been too hot. How ironic is that? Your coconut ice cream looks delicious.


  4. Be still my heart. I'd be afraid to make this one; I'd eat it all from the freezer bowl, in one sitting... with dark chocolate drizzle, to be sure.

  5. I am really into ice cream this summer, the churn has been churning almost every weekend..

    I'll make some of this for my son this weekend!

    Yay, summer...

  6. Oh my goodness, that sounds rich!

  7. I never realized how easy, yet complicated ice cream making could be. I love this recipe! Perhaps also helps that I'm obsessed with coconut.

  8. The tea cups are so cute! And the ice cream sounds insanely delicious!

  9. Hi Barbara,

    Looks so good and want to get a teaspoon and have a little sample.
    Love it served in the little tea cups.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Happy rest of the week

  10. Hello Barbara,

    What a divine & truly appetizing looking ice-cream: so rich though but ooh so fabulous even! :)

    I can't wait to try it!

    I also have mlade your peach cake & it was glorious! :) xxx

  11. I seem to recall making a coconut ice cream a number of years back, but it was not nearly this decadent! This sounds luxurious, right down to the toasted coconut on top!

  12. I love all things coconut! This is making my mouth water, and it's only 8:30 in the morning!

  13. To die for! This really sounds incredible. I love the recipes you share with us. They are always spot-on. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  14. I got my books last night! They are so much fun....



  15. I'm a half hour away from Miami rit now and yet I can't wait to go home and make this ice cream! Oh the irony.

  16. holy cow, pure heaven indeed! this sounds amazing!

  17. I love the idea of serving these in a half coconut. So pretty!

  18. That looks gorgeous, I love the tropical presentation :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. My family would LOVE this...we are coconut freaks....thank you for another MUST make.
    Have a great weekend.

  20. I love those tea cups Barbara. Although I can't imagine anything better than the rhubarb ice cream, I trust you completely. The down side to this is Doc hates coconut so I rarely make things with it since I have to eat whatever I make all on my own... wait a minute... is that such a bad thing with ice cream??

  21. Hi Barbara!!!

    WOW!!! I was so excited to see this post the other day, I plum forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed it. That is some awesome looking ice cream and I love the notion of serving it in a coconut!!! However, those tea cups, well, they really take the cake, lol...Now if I could only have a nibble I would surely be in heaven!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  22. This looks so delicious! I've never made ice cream before but it's something that has been on my to-do list. I'll have to try this recipe out real soon! :)

  23. How tropically delicious! I love the flavor of coconut and topped with a lice chocolate sauce and toasted coconut I'd be in heaven.

  24. This look really delicious Barbara!

  25. 16 egg yolks! This has got to be smooth, rich and tasty! Love your coconut serving cups.

  26. This ice cream looks so fabulous!! I’m with Angie…16 egg yolks…wow!! I love anything coconut…would love this one!! Great looking photos!

  27. Rich, creamy and tropical.. Recipe is a keeper.

  28. I'm an absolute coconut fiend! This looks amazing and I absolutely adore those tea cups!!!

  29. Your coconut tea cups are so pretty! I've been lots of ice cream lately, and I need to try some of Maida's. Like this one--soon!

  30. My mouth is watering at the thought of a bowl of this. Talking of bowls, I love the cups you used as bowls. Really unusual.

  31. tantalizing is a great word--i need to use it more! i'm a coconut fiend, but i don't think i've ever come across coconut ice cream--this is great!

  32. I just bougt an ice cream maker, your recipe just come in the right time. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  33. Coconut ice cream is an all time favourite of mine! I love the cups you served in the ice cream in.

  34. From the myriad of ice creams I have made this summer - I can see that this would be spectacular. I am definitely noting this recipe. The use of coconut milk, the heavy creams and so many yolks would make this heavenly. Did you make an Angel Food Cake with all the leftover whites?



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