Vegan Banana Piña Colada Ice Cream (Modifiable for Paleo)

For as long as I’ve been making ice cream, my wife Alexis has been pleading for a piña colada flavor. I put it off and put if off, because I had never used pineapple or coconut and wasn’t sure how to process them into a base. But after we went to the beach this summer and enjoyed copious amounts of coconut and pineapple drinks, I decided it was finally time to figure it out.

We also had some bananas lying around and going brown, so I thought I’d try adding them to the flavor combination, and realized I could leave out the egg yolks if I did. And then it occurred to me that I was only a non-dairy milk substitution away from being vegan. Seeing as coconut was a major component of the flavor I was going for, it seemed like a perfect time to try my first vegan flavor by using coconut milk.

And then I happened to be talking to Taylor from The Hipster and Her Sister about starting the blog, and realized that the coconut flavor would also be the perfect chance to make it my first Paleo ice cream, by substituting coconut sugar for raw cane sugar.

Unfortunately my local grocery store didn’t have any fresh coconuts, but organic and unsweetened coconut shreds ended up working really well. It took a few false starts figuring out how to process the coconut, which first resulted in some (burnt) toasted flakes doing nothing in particular and then in an unmanageable coconut cream blob. But eventually I settled on steeping them like herbs to infuse flavor, and then blending them up to keep some texture.

The result is a delicious, tropical, and refreshing ice cream that’s guaranteed to make you feel like you’re on the beach.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1  3/4 cup raw cane sugar (*to make it Paleo, just substitute coconut sugar — but be careful cooking the fruit, because coconut sugar will burn/caramelize more easily than cane sugar if not watched)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 fresh pineapple, with skin cut away and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1  1/2 bananas, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 oz. white rum

Instructions:

Base:

  1. Place the pineapple and bananas in a medium stockpot or saucepan and cover with 1/2 cup cane sugar. Toss the combination to coat the fruit evenly in sugar, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until the water has cooked out and the compote is thick and sticky like jam, 20-30 min (see the Cooking Fruit page for instructions and tips on cooking fruit).
  2. Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, the remaining 1 1/4 cup cane sugar, and sea salt in a medium stockpot or saucepan. Stirring frequently (especially until mixture is fully combined), bring to 160˚ F over medium-high heat.
  3. At 160˚F, turn off the heat and add the unsweetened coconut shreds. Stir in, cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  4. When the pineapple-banana compote has reduced and thickened to the point that it holds its shape for a moment when it is stirred, take the compote off the heat and pour it into a small bowl or jar. Allow to chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  5. After the coconut has steeped for 15 minutes, uncover the stockpot. Using an immersion blender (or, placing the base in a food processor), blend the coconut shreds into the base (the mixture won’t get completely smooth with all the coconut, but the small coconut pieces add to the final texture).
  6. Pour the cooked based into a heat-safe bowl (if you have a thing about texture and don’t want any coconut shreds in the final product, you can strain them out). Place bowl in refrigerator and allow to chill, uncovered, until the base is cool to the touch, stirring occasionally to decrease cooling time.
  7. Once the base and pineapple-banana compote are cool to the touch, add the compote and white rum to the base. With an immersion blender (or in a food processor), blend until smooth (again, the coconut flakes won’t blend in completely). Cover, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set for at least 4-5 hours.

Churn:

  1. After allowing the base to set, whisk or immersion-blend it thoroughly again.
  2. Set up your churner.
  3. Pour the base into the churner and turn the cycle on. Allow the ice cream to churn and freeze until it has the consistency of thick soft-serve throughout, 15-30 minutes depending on your churner.
  4. Pour the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and cover. Allow the ice cream to harden to a consistent texture throughout, roughly 6-8 hours depending on your freezer.
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