Coconut Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Crust Swirl

Do I have to do much more than type out the title of this post and upload a photo? Because I think the words themselves – take them in again, why don’t you? Coconut. Ice. Cream. Graham. Cracker. Crust. Swirl. – and the pictures seem convincing enough. On their own, they beckon, no?

I’ve already professed my love for coconut here, but truth be told, I might love graham cracker pie crust even more. The blending of the cracker with sugar and butter satisfies my salty/sweet cravings in a big way. It also doesn’t hurt that it usually serves as the foundation for heavy, decadent fillings, like mousses, custards, and puddings!

Here, though, I mixed and baked a graham cracker crust as I normally would for a cheesecake or a key lime pie and, once it was cooled, I swirled it into the ice cream. Yum! Let me tell you about this ice cream, friends. It’s a simple recipe in that it doesn’t require a custard preparation on the stove first – though, truth be told, when making ice cream from scratch, I do find custard-based recipes to have the most familiar consistency. This coconut ice cream gets it’s very creamy texture, however, from a can of sweetened condensed milk which, when blended with half & half and a can of coconut milk, achieves the perfect amount of fresh coconut flavor.

This flavor is only enhanced by the addition of sweetened, shredded coconut in it’s straight-from-the-bag form, as well as from the toasted variety. The former adds the extra boost of coconut flavor needed to really distinguish it as a coconut ice cream and the toasted bits provide a deep, caramelized note in addition to another layer of texture. Not to mention the intense aroma it gives the ice cream! Even after sitting in the freezer for days (should you have the restraint to allow such a thing), removing the top of the container offers up the most heady scents of coconut done three ways, accompanied by the layers of crumbled graham cracker crust throughout. Unf.

Any more reading here is just time taken away from digging out your ice cream maker and getting to work! This ice cream would be great during a summer barbecue, served on top of a blueberry pie, or made the star of your Mother’s Day table. You could even add a scoop to your morning smoothie if you wanted! Heck, I’m not going to judge you.

Coconut Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Swirl
Makes approximately 2 quarts

Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1-1/2 cups of half and half
1 teaspoon of vanilla extra
Dash of salt
1-1/4 cups of sweetened, shredded coconut flakes, divided
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1 Tablespoon of sugar
4 Tablespoons of salted butter, melted

Directions:
Note: Before beginning this recipe, read your owner’s manual to your ice cream machine, so that you know how best to plan ahead. My ice cream machine, for example, requires you to freeze an insert solid – usually 24 hours – before churning. I’ve also learned with use that I get the best results if the mixture I’m planning to pour into the machine is very cold. I like to keep it in my refrigerator overnight before churning.

In a small frying pan, over medium heat, sprinkle 1/2 cup of sweetened flake coconut evenly and allow to brown. You will need to keep a close eye on it and should stir it every two minutes or so until it is complete. Allow to cool. With a handmixer, blend the sweetened condensed milk, half & half, coconut milk, salt & vanilla together until smooth in a medium-sized bowl. Incorporate the toasted coconut and the remaining 3/4 cups of sweetened coconut flakes. Mix well, cover, and store in the refrigerator until the liquid is very cold. This is where I usually let it sit overnight for maximum coldness.

On the day you will finish the ice cream, prepare and bake your graham cracker crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until combined. Press into the bottom of a 8-inch by 8-inch pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Allow to cool.
Remove the ice cream mixture from the refrigerator and give it a good stir before pouring into your machine and making according to the manual’s instructions. While ice cream is churning, break graham cracker crust into bits and pieces. Once ice cream is complete (it may be a very soft consistency, but it should not be liquid), scoop some into the container you will store it in and spread it out. Follow with a layer of graham cracker crust crumbs and then another layer of ice cream. Repeat until neither remains. With the end of a wooden spoon, swirl the layers together. Affix lid and freeze until frozen.

 

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