3 cans (14 fluid ounces each) coconut milk, 2 of the 3 refrigerated for at least 24 hours*
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (3 g) unflavored powdered gelatin**
3 ounces dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
*You must use full-fat coconut milk. Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk and Whole Foods 365 brand coconut milk both work well consistently for this application. So Delicious brand “Culinary Coconut Milk” also works great for the coconut cream portion.
**The gelatin is what keeps the ice cream from being too, well, icy. You can substitute 1 tablespoon of gluten free vodka for a similar result, but then it becomes an adults-only treat (and the vodka doesn’t work quite as well).
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the entire contents of the 1 room-temperature can of coconut milk and the sugar, and whisk to combine well. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent it from splattering, until it is reduced at least by half and begins to thicken (about 10 minutes). This is now your dairy free sweetened condensed coconut milk. Remove from the heat and set it aside to allow to cool completely.
Remove the remaining two cans of coconut milk carefully from the refrigerator, without shaking them at all. The solid should have separated from the liquid while it was chilling, and you don’t want to reintegrate them. Remove the lids from the cans, scoop out only the solid white coconut (discarding or reserving for another use all of the liquid), and place it in a large bowl. With a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip the coconut on high speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy and nearly doubled in volume. The coconut cream must be chilled for it to whip. Place the whipped coconut cream in the refrigerator.
Place the gelatin in a small bowl, and mix well with 2 tablespoons of the sweetened condensed coconut milk from the first step. Allow to sit for 5 minutes while the gelatin dissolves. Microwave the mixture on 70% power for 15 seconds to liquify the gelatin, and then add the mixture to the rest of the cooled sweetened condensed coconut milk.
Remove the coconut whipped cream from the refrigerator and add the sweetened condensed coconut milk mixture and optional vanilla to it. Whip once more until light and creamy, and well-combined (about one minute more). Fold in the optional chocolate chips, and scrape the mixture into a 2 quart freezer-safe container. Cover tightly and freeze until firm (about 6 hours). Serve cold. If it is difficult to scoop, allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before scooping and serving with a warm ice cream scoop.
Recipe originally published in 2013. Photos updated, method updated slightly, recipe otherwise unchanged.