Coconut Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs

Spiced Coconut Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs

This vegan ice cream relies on full-fat coconut milk for a rich, creamy texture and steeping spices in the hot coconut milk gives it a subtle spiciness.  The cacao nibs add a very earthy flavor, however miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips would also work well in this recipe. I have found that freezing the bowl of the ice cream maker for at least 24 hours before churning yields the best ice cream texture.

Makes about 1 quart


2 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk

½ cup evaporated cane juice or regular sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

¼ teaspoon whole cardamom seeds, or 2 green cardamom pods, crushed

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 whole cloves

½ cup sweetened cacao nibs


  1. Shake the cans of coconut milk well to incorporate the fat into the milk. Set aside ½ cup of coconut milk in a small bowl and pour the rest into a medium saucepan.  Whisk in the sugar and salt, and add the vanilla bean, scraping the seeds into the milk first.

  2. Heat the coconut milk over medium low heat, stirring frequently, just until it begins to steam and the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into the coconut milk that you have set aside. Make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining.

  3. Once the coconut milk in the pan has begun to steam, remove from heat and add the spices, stirring gently to incorporate them in. Cover the pan and allow the spices to steep in the milk for 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. Strain the spiced coconut milk into another pan and heat again over  low heat. Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the coconut milk thickens to a custard-like texture. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and cover the surface immediately with plastic wrap. Chill for several hours or overnight.

  5. Set the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker on the base and pour the chilled coconut custard into the bowl. Immediately turn the ice cream maker on and allow custard to churn until it thickens into the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Add the cacao nibs during the last minute or so of churning, or stir them in quickly with a rubber spatula. Transfer ice cream to a 1 quart container with a tight fitting lid and freeze until stiff, about 4 hours.