It’s the day before our Independence Day here in the States. I’m eating peach ice cream and listening for early fireworks from the streets near mine. Any excuse to blow stuff up, we’re gonna take it. I’m not complaining. I like a sky full of shimmering lights as much as anyone. So in the spirit of Summer celebrations, here’s a poem I wrote the other day. Because half of creating is sharing.
out here in the cool rain cornfields bend back to sweep wet ground
out here where we lay lazy and stare up at the stars
mosquitoes biting at us and we let them, arms crossed behind our heads
counting constellations and the seconds between our breaths
until the silence fills us we’re balloons of stillness
hopeful to touch each other. arms grazing stalks
dust clinging to our back bodies and we feel the turning of the earth
and us along with it at millions of miles per hour
we see the lights beyond us and remember they’re already dead
time the lightswitch, light lagging behind
we capture the past in our vision and breath in the scent of
sweet like hot buttered corn
sweet like your mouth
peach ice cream
melting, dropped to the ground
breathe in the markers of eons
etchings on chalkboard sky
symbols of worlds beyond
nothing compared to
scooping myself over your skin dark blue in the dusk
melting into the feeling of now
without symbol or representation
and the infinite.
Peach ice cream. It’s a staple here in the South. My fathers favorite, and arguably one of the best foods that exists. Fresh, juicy fruit and cream and sugar. Simple and divine. So I decided to muck up all of that simplicity with a process. The result? Lip-smacking, intensely peachy ice cream with notes of brown sugar and coconut and deep molasses-like salted coconut caramel swirled in the folds. Trust me, y’all. The process is worth it. And, don’t fear, it’s not hard at all.
So to make this peach ice cream a bold, golden thing we craft a couple of things: peach butter, the ice cream base itself, and salted coconut caramel aka dulce de coco. Peach butter is just like apple butter: fruit cooked down with sugar and spices until reduced, then mashed or blended to a smooth consistency and cooked a bit more. It makes a decadent, intensely peachy spread for toast and it’s damn fine in peach butter hand pies or as a sort of confit over pancakes. The peach ice cream base is peach butter + coconut milk and spices to add interest and balance. The dulce de coco is one ingredient and can be made in the fast method or the slow method. The quick and dirty way is what I used in this ice cream. It’s an unstable coconut caramel that’s quick to break and has to be whipped back together frequently using a blender. That kind of sucks, but if you’re impatient (like I was at the time) it’s an option.
I highly recommend either the fast or slow method, but I’ll tell you what I did for the impatient version: boil down one 13 oz can full fat coconut milk + 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt on medium heat until reduced to 1/8 the original volume, stirring frequently. The mixture will “break” and the oil will separate out. Add 1/2 cup coconut sugar and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temp and blend in your blender until whipped and emulsified. Use immediately. This whole process takes about an hour. If the oil separates out from the caramel, blend it again.
Most of my ice creams consist of coconut milk, sugar and fruit / nut butter / chocolate + herbs and spices. Coconut milk itself has an emulsifying quality which makes it a perfect ice cream base without the need for egg yolks. The fats pair with air molecules which makes for an ice cream base that gets light in your ice cream maker as it’s churning. One of the main reasons I use full fat coconut milk for my ice cream bases is that the fats really carry a lot of flavor across your palate. So even if you’re doing a lightly flavored ice cream, say a floral rose pistachio ice cream or something, the flavor comes through. Pure fruit sorbets and “light” milky bases don’t carry flavor as well and tend to make up for the lack of perceptible flavor with sugar. With a full-fat ice cream you don’t have to use as much sugar. I like that.
This treat is really more sherbet in nature. The fruit puree > cream. Both in volume and importance. Regardless it has a dense creaminess, and when swirled with the salted coconut caramel it’s luscious. Not a word I would often pair with a fruit ice cream. But here, there’s no other word. Maybe decadent. That’s a good one. Top it with cacao nibs for a little bit of crunch and a pleasant bitterness to play off of the sweetness.
P.s. I’m on phhhoto now! Come watch me do weird things in 3 second loops! Oh and another side note, who else is with me on hating on the newest season of Orange is the New Black?! Piper… she’s the fraggin WORST. Uuuugggghhhh. I had such high hopes….
- 15 cups sliced peaches (about 20-25 peaches)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup arrowroot flour
- Cook everything except arrowroot together until reduced by ¼.
- In a medium bowl, combine the arrowroot flour with 2 cups of the juice from the cooked down peaches. Stir together until smooth and combined, with no lumps. I find using an immersion blender here helps to get rid of any starchy pockets.
- Add the arrowroot back into the peaches and cook down further until the mixture is reduced by half of the original volume.
- Cut off heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also do this in batches in a blender once the mix has cooled down a bit.
- Cool in the fridge covered until ready to use. The peach butter keeps up to a week in the fridge, but can be frozen for up to a month.
- Combine the peach butter, coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, and sea salt in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Cool the base in your fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes before pouring it into your ice cream maker.
- Make in your ice cream maker according to maker directions OR
- to make this ice cream without a maker, pour the base into ice cube trays and freeze for 3 hours then blend in a high powered blender until creamy and smooth with a splash of coconut milk to get it going.
- Once your ice cream base is at soft-serve consistency, spread the ice cream out into a loaf pan. You can swirl the coconut caramel into the ice cream at this point and freeze for 3 hours before scooping out and serving OR reserve the coconut caramel as a topping. It's up to you! I personally like it better as a swirl.
- Scoop your ice cream out and add toppings to your liking! Voila!