Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe with Chestnut Swirl

Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe with Chestnut Swirl Recipe

This recipe proves that vegan doesn't always mean healthy. Coconut cream, coconut milk, sugar, pure vanilla extract, chestnut purée and stabilizers combine to make a vegan ice cream recipe that tips the scales at about 3000 calories per quart (that's 375 calories per serving). But there aren’t any eggs or dairy products!

I recently received a request for a vegan ice cream recipe from Leslie. It was the first time I tried making a vegan dessert. I made use of the same combination of stabilizers I use in other egg-free recipes, namely soy lecithin and xanthan gum. I increased the quantity to improve mouth-feel though. Xanthan gum in particular inhibits the formation of ice crystals, which create a more pleasing texture.

After tasting the final product, everyone in the house agreed that the ice cream strongly resembled chè, a very popular Vietnamese dessert. I hadn't anticipated that at all. Since I swirled the ice cream with chestnut purée, I thought it would have a more French flavor to it, but that was not the case. That's one of the things I love about cooking. I really enjoy experimenting, and the results of these culinary adventures can add completely new recipes to my repertoire.

My husband Lulu has decided to leave the ice cream maker on the kitchen counter until the end of summer to encourage us to make ice cream more often this year. I’ll post our concoctions on here all summer, so at least some good can come out of my impending weight gain. Stay tuned!


Yields: 2 pints

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (13.9-ounce) can coconut cream
½ teaspoon liquid lecithin
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-¼ cups superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 ounces chestnut spread, (2 small 100-gram tins)


In a saucepan, combine the superfine sugar, corn syrup, coconut milk and coconut cream. Bring to a near boil. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Remember, the ice cream mixture should be slightly too sweet to your taste before placing in the ice cream machine because it will taste less sweet when it's frozen. Turn off the heat. Add salt and vanilla extract. Let cool a little.

In a small bowl, combine the xanthan gum, liquid lecithin and olive oil. Add the xanthan gum / lecithin mixture to the coconut. The liquid will thicken a bit. Whisk well. Allow to cool completely (about 60-90 minutes). To check if the mixture is ready to be churned, the temperature of the liquid shouldn't exceed 45°F. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool in the refrigerator if necessary.

Make sure the ice cream mixture is as cold as possible before you transfer it to the machine.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker canister. Fill up two-thirds of it as the ice cream will expand, and let the machine do its magic. The consistency will be firm but still soft-serve.

Transfer the ice cream onto a slab of marble (previously placed in the freezer to keep the ice cream chilled). Spread a layer of chestnut purée, then fold the ice cream using 2 spades (I used dough scrapers) to create a swirl.

Transfer the ice cream into an airtight container in the freezer to harden for at least 2 hours. I let it rest overnight.

Bon appétit!


2 pints of ice cream yields about 8 servings. I serve about ½ cup per person.

Our local market carries chestnut purée but you can also find it online.

chestnut puree

You can store the ice cream in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained sugar and it dissolves much more quickly than the regular granulated kind.

Xanthan gum is a fine powder used as a binder and emulsifier. If you look at the list of ingredients for salad dressings and ice cream at the supermarket, you'll find that they contain xanthan gum. I use it for texture and as an egg white substitute. You can find it online or in any specialty food store such as Whole Foods.

I use liquid lecithin as an egg yolk substitute. You can also find this online or in any specialty food store like Whole Foods. Look for the (32-ounce) bottle, not the capsules.

Count ½ teaspoon xanthan gum, ½ teaspoon liquid lecithin and 1 teaspoon of olive oil per quart of liquid for creamy ice cream.

I usually add a little salt to most desserts. A pinch of salt will enhance the taste of your sweets and brings out all the flavors.

I used Savoy brand coconut cream and Chaokoh brand coconut milk. You can find them in most Asian stores.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 14, 2010.


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