Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ice Cream Adventures: Vegan Pina Colada

When it comes to ice cream, nothing matches the luxurious smoothness of full fat dairy milk and cream. Unfortunately, when you’re Chinese and most of your friends and family are of Asian descent too, the issue of lactose-intolerance can really put a damper on things. Logic tells me that delving into dairy-alternative desserts is the smart thing to do but a part of me still balks at the thought of ice cream without milk. Fortunately, another part of me is always up for a challenge.

With hot summer weather upon us and COVID19 restrictions continuing to drag on (and on, and on, and on…), I started longing for backyard BBQs, cold drinks and friends. Since that dream seemed elusive, I decided to try my hand at a cocktail-flavoured ice cream to try and capture that carefree spirit of summer even if the current reality was less than ideal. I have always liked pina coladas and as something that is supposed to taste of coconut, it appeared to be the perfect flavour to start experimenting with a coconut milk-based ice cream. 

After browsing multiple blogs for recipes, I was drawn to this one in particular:

Ready to go!

I figured since we were experimenting with non-traditional ice cream, we might as well make it vegan! It was quite the experience since my husband and I had never worked with coconut cream before. We were not off to a good start when we dumped the coconut cream out of the package and then tried to blend the solid and liquid parts together to create, what we were hoping, would be a smooth cream base. We panicked when it started to curdle. Good thing we had a friend who likes to bake on speed dial! She coached us through warming it up and stirring the mixture back into something that looked edible. Crisis averted!

This stuff is rather alarming to work with....

The rest of the recipe went as outlined but unfortunately, the end result was rather underwhelming. Maybe it was the brand of coconut milk and cream that we used (Aroy-D) but we found that it tasted surprisingly bland. We also found the end result rather icey and nothing near the smooth creaminess you would expect from a dairy-based ice cream – I feel that perhaps we had the wrong expectations to start. The toasted coconut flakes and fresh pineapple chunks provided most of the flavour.

At first, we were disappointed. We really could not bring ourselves to call our creation ice “cream”. But as we sat on our back deck in the summer sun, scrapping into our icey desserts, we discovered that after a while, the dessert grew on us. Overall, it tasted refreshing and light. It reminded us of bingsu (ie. Korean shaved ice) and we realized that if we “rebranded” it and thought of it as a shaved ice instead of ice cream, it was actually delicious. Soon, we were making plans to add an ice shaver (at some point) to our eclectic collection of kitchen appliances.

This may be the start of another line of desserts for us!

An alternative way of serving (when you are too lazy to scrape it out of the tub...😜)

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