This Coconut Tamarind Ice Cream features a thick, gooey ribbon of tamarind syrup swirled through a creamy, coconut custard ice cream base. It’s not your typical decadent frozen treat. Whether you serve the coconut custard ice cream in a cone or in a dish, your family is sure to love this unique ice cream recipe. Delicioso!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About Tamarind Ice Cream
Until I moved to McAllen, Texas, I was not familiar with tamarind. You know how I LOVE to discover new ingredients. This homemade chamoy recipe was my first foray into cooking with tamarind, and was followed by chamoy glazed salmon. Delicioso!
Not long after, I worked on this tamarind syrup, and a companion post for a mezcal-tamarind cocktail. The tamarind syrup has been one of my top recipes for a few months now… With that in mind, I started thinking about using the tamarind syrup in an ice cream.
As I mentioned, tamarind is a quintessential Mexican ingredient. They love it in candy, beverages, and savory recipes. I wanted to use my tamarind syrup, and I wanted the ice cream base to be a Mexican-inspired flavor… hence coconut. While coconut is not native to Mexico, it is a popular flavor.
So this coconut tamarind ice cream is a custard-style (with cooked eggs) ice cream with unsweetened coconut milk and half and half. The addition of a small amount of rum improves scoop-ability, and is totally optional. Mexicans don’t typically include nutmeg, but it works really well with the rum and coconut. Read on for the specifics!
❤️ What I Love About Coconut Tamarind Ice Cream
- It’s super creamy!
- The tart tamarind ribbon really complements the sweet coconut ice cream.
- It’s not the typical chocolate chip or vanilla?
- It’s not hard to make if you have an ice cream freezer and a few ingredients.
- “Custard” style ice cream is the best! The mouth-feel and creaminess is amazing!
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- tamarind syrup – Start with this tamarind syrup recipe. Reduce it by half. The syrup needs to be quite thick, or it will be icy rather than gooey. If you don’t want to spend time making the syrup, you can buy a commercial tamarind syrup and reduce it. Alternatively, you can substitute jam or preserves like this mango/passionfruit jam.
- half and half – You need 2 cups of half and half, but you can substitute 1 cup of whole milk, and 1 cup of heavy cream if you prefer. The fat content is important to achieve the creamy texture.
- unsweetened coconut cream – Make sure you use unsweetened coconut cream. I have mistakenly picked up sweetened coconut cream, and it will really mess with the sweetness level.
- sugar – I use turbinado sugar (aka demerara or raw) rather than white sugar unless I need a pure white finished product. It’s less processed and retains some of the molasses flavor which I find appealing. Of course you can use white or brown sugar if you prefer.
- rum – The hint of rum flavor works really well with the coconut and tamarind combination, but it is optional. Alcohol makes ice cream more scoopable due to its lower freezing point, and it also adds depth of flavor. You can substitute rum extract, but reduce the quantity to 1 teaspoon. Make sure to look for “pure” or “natural” extract for the best flavor! It will still have a small amount of alcohol.
- fine sea salt
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Prepare your tamarind syrup – Unless you have tamarind syrup on hand, you will need to make it (or buy it), and reduce, then cool it. See Ingredients above for suggestions. Cool thoroughly before using!
- Heat the half and half mixture – Add the half and half, sugar, nutmeg, and salt to a saucepan (that will also hold the tempered eggs). DO NOT BOIL, but get it hot.
- Temper the eggs – When the half and half mixture is hot, add it a ladleful at a time to the whisked eggs, whisking vigorously. The goal is to gradually warm the eggs to avoid curdling.
- Cook the custard – When the eggs are warm, add them to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. DO NOT BOIL.
- Finish the custard base – Add the tempered eggs and half and half mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the coconut cream and rum. Whisk until smooth. CHILL COMPLETELY.
- Freeze the ice cream base – Freeze the custard base according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine takes 45-60 minutes, and I have a compressor model.
- Finish the ice cream – When the ice cream is finished, remove from the ice cream maker.
- Layer the coconut ice cream with the tamarind syrup – Use an ice cream storage container or loaf pan to layer the ice cream. Use about 1/3 of the ice cream. Spoon about half of the tamarind syrup over top. Layer another 1/3 of the ice cream, then top with the remaining syrup. Top with the remaining ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve. See Tips below for serving hard ice cream.
- To serve – Scoop ice cream into cones or bowls and enjoy!
Why is ice cream from the freezer so hard to scoop?
💭 Top Tips
If you’ve ever pulled ice cream from the freezer only to find it far too hard to scoop, you know how frustrating this is. Since making homemade ice creams, frozen custards, sorbets, and sherbets requires an investment of your time, it is worth having some tools to deal with rock-hard ice cream! 3 Tricks for Softening Rock-Hard Ice Cream in a Hurry has great information.
- Thaw the ice cream in the refrigerator. 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator should bring it to about 8 degrees (good for scooping). I prefer this method.
- Slice it into pieces. Using a sharp knife run through hot water to cut the ice cream into slices. Then run an ice cream scoop under hot water before scooping.
- Thaw the ice cream in the microwave. This is my desperation method when I have guests and can’t scoop the ice cream. It can result in a melted mess if you’re not really careful. Try 20% power for 30 seconds. Check before proceeding another 30 seconds. My microwave is high power, and 30% will melt it.
Dip your ice cream scoop in cold water before each scoop. Ice cream is likely to stick to a dry scoop, but it will slide off of a wet scoop.
If your half and half and egg tempering doesn’t go well, and the mixture “breaks,” blend it on high in a blender, and it should be okay.
I don’t make a lot of desserts, and we don’t eat many sweets. When I do work on a dessert recipe, I strive to make it “different” and creative. This coconut tamarind custard-style ice cream is successful on both counts IMHO. If you love to make homemade ice cream, I hope you’ll give it a try!
Coconut Tamarind Ice Cream
Click to rate!
- 1 cup tamarind syrup, reduced by half and cooled - see Ingredients in Post
- 2 cups half and half
- 13.5 ounces unsweetened coconut cream - see Ingredients in Post for more information
- ½ cup sugar - I like turbinado
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons rum - or 1 teaspoon rum extract
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg - I like fresh ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Unless you have tamarind syrup on hand, you will need to make it (or buy it), and reduce, then cool it.
- Combine half and half, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a saucepan. Heat until the mixture starts to steam – hot not boiling.
- Whisk the eggs THOROUGHLY. Temper the eggs by whisking a small ladle of the half and half mixture into the eggs. Repeat several times until the eggs are warm.
- When the eggs are warm, add them to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. DO NOT BOIL.
- Add the tempered eggs and half and half mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the coconut cream and rum. Whisk until smooth. CHILL COMPLETELY.
- Freeze the custard base according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Layer about ⅓ of the ice cream in an appropriate container. Spoon about half of the tamarind syrup over top. Layer another ⅓ of the ice cream, then top with the remaining syrup. Top with the remaining ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.