“Ice cream” looks a bit ominous but I promise this is just as delicious. I’ve made more than 30 ice cream recipes over the years on this blog and had yet to try a dairy-free version. As one of my best friends is both exorbitantly lactose-intolerant one of the most generous people I know, I decided this year to try a recipe she can enjoy too. Since sweet and spicy is definitely her jam (and mine too) I set off with that flavor profile in mind.
I knew I wanted to use a coconut base because other non-dairy substitutes require some kind of thickener and I prefer my frozen desserts to be as unadulterated as possible. Pondering what goes well with coconut so it would complement rather than fight the base flavor, piña colada original came to mind. Switched up for the spicy aspect, pineapple habanero was clearly the answer.
Amusingly I’d never bought a habanero before and 100% texted another friend to make sure I was buying the correct thing. As someone with a Scandinavian spice tolerance (is butter a spice?) even cutting these peppers was quite the ordeal for me. Friendship and stubbornness pulled me through and the end result was so, so worth it.
Although slightly less creamy than you know, cream, this frozen dessert is wonderful in its own right. Smooth with a light coconut background, the first flavor you get is a strong presence of pineapple. The habanero follows more slowly, the heat building in your mouth and encouraging you to reach for another bite. This one is almost as addicting last year’s chocolate chili and can be happily enjoyed by your dairy-free friends.
The syrup recipe results in more than you need for the ice cream, so you can use it as a topping elsewhere. Extra on the ice cream itself, atop waffles and pancakes, stirred into a margarita, the opportunities are endless. Customize the heat level to your own preference but remember it will be much more mild once mixed with the coconut cream.
If this dessert can appease me, someone who can definitely tell the difference in ice cream made with “diet” 30% heavy whipping cream instead of “proper” 40% heavy whipping cream, I promise it will please anyone. Top off your Taco Tuesday with this sweet and spicy concoction for a perfect summertime meal.
Pineapple Habanero “Ice Cream”
Makes about 6 cups
2 (~14oz) cans unsweetened coconut cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg beaters1
2 – 2 1/2 cups pineapple habanero syrup, divided (below)
spoonful of compote, optional
- In a medium saucepan, combine coconut cream, sugar, and egg beaters. Heat over medium, whisking often, until well combined and beginning to thicken.
- Stir in one and a half cups pineapple habanero syrup, and a spoonful of reserved compote if you like a little texture.
- Chill in refrigerator until completely cooled. (Put a 7-cup freezer-safe bowl in the freezer now too.)
- Freeze mixture according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
- Retrieve bowl from the freezer and add 1/4 of the ice cream to the bowl. Swirl a spoonful of the pineapple habanero syrup on top and repeat until all the ice cream is in the bowl, finishing with a little more syrup.
- Freeze overnight until firm (it takes longer than normal!)
1 I’ve not tested it but you should be able to make this recipe vegan by leaving out the egg. This will, however, change the texture as egg lends a smoothness and fullness that is difficult to get without some kind of emulsifier.
Roasted Pineapple Habanero Syrup
Makes about 3 cups
1 ripe pineapple, sliced
2 habanero peppers, to taste
1 1/2 cups sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large baking dish, arrange pineapple in a single layer.
- Roast until warmed and started to brown, 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the habanero peppers, removing as many seeds as you want depending on your desired heat level. I removed about half the seeds for a medium heat.
- Use a blender or food processor to completely puree the roasted pineapple (you should have about 3 cups puree.)
- In a medium saucepan, combine puree, sugar, and peppers.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer gently until thickened and spicy. Let it go till it’s quite a bit spicier than you want your finished product as it will be greatly mellowed by the cream base.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve, using a whisk to get as much syrup as possible. Set aside to cool (reserve the chunky compote too if you like a little texture!) then store in the fridge until ready to use.