Vegan Mango Kulfi Ice Cream
My tiny house is crowded with people, all with spoons peeling mango kulfi ice cream from their scalloped glass cups into their mouths. The voices mix together with the clinking of metal to glass, music to my ears. Introducing my old friends to my new friends, watching the pop and fizz of good conversation and new connections made, it warms me like a whiskey shot -- clear and intoxicating. I like to think that my friends are the BEST. Don't we all think that about the good people in our lives? I'm biased. I know. But I can't help but feel like some fantastic witchcraft is at foot, working through me to fashion constellations out of these unique spinning lights in the great, expansive void. Through ice cream and good food magic. Is there another way?
The ice cream, like our chill dinner party get-together, is a hit. The perfect ending to the picnic we all took over to the park (we came back to my house for dessert). I want to recreate just about everything we ate, over and over again. It's too bad it got dark before I could grab some good shots of the table. Barbecue cauliflower, a fabulously lemony kale salad, a mango avocado slaw, almond butter pad thai (my favorite recipe by Gena Hamshaw), nectarine sangria (a la Bojon Gourmet).
I like to think of this vegan ice cream as a genius recipe. I've been making vegan ice cream for years (4 years to be exact). And never have I had vegan ice cream this luscious and custardy. I usually make my ice creams with full fat coconut milk and sweeten with either coconut blossom sugar or maple syrup, occasionally dates. And it's always delicious, with a texture not dissimilar from frozen yogurt. But this ice cream, because it's made with reduced coconut milk and dates, has a texture which I can only describe as Haagan Dasz -- thick, melt-in-your-mouth, decadent.
How often can you say fruit ice cream is decadent? It's usually a word I reserve for chocolate. Maybe a slice of perfect peach pie with whipped coconut cream. Mostly, for me, it's a word for foods that feel sinful, sexy, that make you close your eyes and nod your head and hum to yourself because damn.
The perfectly ripe mango, cardamom, rose, and toasted pistachios all whip up together to create that oh hell yes scenario. The mango is subtle, not intense like sorbet or gelato. It has almost a tropical melon thing going on. Which makes it possible for all of the other flavors to shine in perfect balance.
What makes it really "genius" is that you can reduce the coconut milk in any coconut-milk base vegan ice cream recipe and get a bomb texture. Sweeten with dates if you want it super thick, like this ice cream.
Inspired by traditional kulfi (a popular Indian ice cream made from reduced milk, pistachios, cardamom, and rose), this vegan mango kulfi is thick and aromatic. Traditional kulfi is often made into popsicles, and it's meant to be so thick that it melts very slowly. Some regions even make it with bread whipped into the milk to stabilize the texture. Other regions simply reduce the milk. It gives the milk a deeper flavor as the milk sugars caramelize. It works out similarly with coconut milk, as the sugars in the coconut milk caramelize when reduced. But coconut milk is also higher in fat than milk, so you get a lovely thick texture -- especially in combination with the fiber in dates and whole mango fruit. No bread necessary.
- 2 13 oz cans full fat coconut milk
- 1.5 tablespoons dried red rose petals
- 8-10 fresh medjool dates, pitted
- 2 medium ripe mangos (2.5 cups mango fruit)
- pinch Celtic sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cardamom
- 3/4 cup roasted unsalted pistachio nutmeats
- Pour the coconut milk into a medium soup pot. Simmer for 30 minutes until the milk is reduced by half.
- Add the rose petals and infuse the petals into the hot coconut milk for 30 minutes as the coconut milk cools down to room temperature.
- Once the reduced rose-scented coconut milk is at room temperature, pour the coconut milk through a sieve into a medium bowl to remove the flower petals.
- Press the coconut milk out of the petals and discard the petals, scraping any coconut milk from the bottom of the sieve into the bowl.
- In a high powered blender, blend together the rose scented coconut milk with the dates, mangos, sea salt, vanilla, and cardamom and blend together until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You may need to do this in two batches depending on how large the bowl of your blender is.
- Chill the ice cream base for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
- While the ice cream base is chilling, toast the pistachio nutmeats in a wide pan for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat -- until they're aromatic. Remove the nuts from the pan, chop roughly, and set aside.
- Make the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to maker instructions (or if you don't have a machine [url href="http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-ice-cream-without-124210"]do it like this[/url]). It will look like soft serve ice cream when the ice cream maker process is done.
- Spread the ice cream out into a loaf or cake pan. Fold in 1/2 cup of the chopped, toasted pistachios and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.
- To serve, top the ice cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted pistachios and enjoy!