Sadly, it turns out that I'm allergic to coconut.
This is especially devastating because coconut is the miracle food source of the paleo world. Coconut milk, sugar, flour, oil, and butter are all delicious, and do an impressive job of standing in for their non-paleo counterparts.
I can't help but wonder if my sudden increase in coconut intake during my January Whole30 was what caused my allergy to surface. But, no matter the cause, I won't be partaking in any coconut anytime soon. Eating raw coconut makes me feel awful, and my doctor told me not to eat cooked coconut either unless I first sit through a challenge test in his office. The test would consist of me bringing in some food with cooked coconut in it, eating it one bite at a time, and seeing if I go into anaphylactic shock or anything. I told him no thanks for now.
The two things I miss most so far are Thai curry and dairy-free ice cream, both of which rely heavily on coconut milk. I'm lactose intolerant, and since I refuse to go without ice cream, I set to work on an alternative.
Well, here it is! Mocha pistachio ice cream with no dairy, no coconut, and a good dose of caffeine. The egg yolks do a nice job of amping up the creaminess, and coffee, chocolate, and pistachios are the perfect flavor triad. This is lighter than regular ice cream, but richer than the egg-free coconut milk ice creams I've made in the past.
With a treat like this, living with a coconut allergy might not be so bad after all.
Mocha Pistachio Ice Cream
Yield: About 1 quart
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus chilling and freezing time
Cook time: 10 minutes
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup turbinado sugar*
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee (I use Café Bustelo)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (I use Equal Exchange)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup roasted, shelled pistachios (unsalted), coarsely chopped
*Coconut sugar (or regular sugar) should work as substitutes if you don't have turbinado sugar.
Whisk together the almond milk, honey, sugar, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Place a strainer in a large bowl so it will be ready when you need it.
Transfer about a cup of the hot almond milk mixture to the bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk quickly to temper the yolks, which keeps them from scrambling. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (around 170 degrees on a candy thermometer, but you don't necessarily need one--the mixture will noticeably thicken).
Pour the mixture through the strainer into the clean bowl, and refrigerate until chilled (at least two hours or overnight).
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the instructions for your particular model. Add the pistachios when the ice cream is almost finished, and let it continue to churn for two more minutes. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and store in the freezer until firm, at least two hours. If the ice cream has been frozen for a while, letting it sit out at room temperature for ten minutes or so before serving will make it more flavorful and easier to scoop.
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