It has been way too long since dates, the namesake of this site, have been featured here on Desert Candy. In fact, aside from some delicious date bars, I’d say there’s a dirth of date recipes here that needs to be remedied. It’s not that I haven’t been eating dates, I actually eat them all the time. But I usually enjoy them unadorned, as a little afternoon snack alongside a cup of coffee or espresso. I think moist plump dates pair perfectly with coffee, so I thought I’d dress things up a little bit by making a coffee syrup for the dates, scented with cinnamon and orange. Since it’s the first day of August’s ice cream challenge, I thought I’d be a little fancy and do a pairing of coffee-simmered dates with coconut sorbet.
Coconut sorbet* is one of the easiest and most satisfying frozen desserts to make. In it’s simplest form, you can just combine coconut milk and sugar and then churn it. However, I find most canned coconut milk is seriously lacking in flavor, and I rarely have it in my pantry. Infusing your own coconut milk is easy and makes an unbelievably creamy, rich flavor without added cream. Plus, this still takes minimal effort, great if you’re new to homemade ice cream making. While this is a delicious pairing, both components are great on their own, and if you're looking for a go-to coconut ice cream recipe, you've got it.
*Yes, technically this isn't a sorbet since it has milk, but it's not quite ice cream either, so I thought that sorbet was the best label.
Infusing your own coconut milk makes an amazingly coconutty, rich, creamy treat. Though there's no added cream, I find it has just the right amount of richness, although you could use half milk, half cream for a richer ice cream. I call for sweetened dessicated coconut because it is more readily available, but if you have access to unsweetened coconut you can use it and increase the sugar to 1/2 cup.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1. In a saucepan, combine the milk, coconut, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring, then remove from the heat, cover and set aside for one hour to steep. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the coconut to extract any liquid, then discard the coconut.
2. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (important!), then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Toasted Coconut Sorbet: Toast the coconut on a baking sheet until golden before infusing it with the milk.
Coconut and Lime Sorbet: Add 1 tsp lime juice and a bit of fresh lime zest when infusing the mixture.
Coconut Sorbet with Dates: Add chopped dates at the end of the churning process.
Almond Joy Ice Cream: Make coconut ice cream, add a swirl of fudge sauce and chopped almonds.
12 Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup coffee
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 sliver of orange peel
2 tbl butter
1. Combine the dates, coffee, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange peel in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until slightly reduced. Set aside the dates in a bowl and discard the cinnamon stick and orange peel. If you’re picky you can slip the dates out of their skins and discard the skins. Continue to simmer the syrup for another two minutes, then whisk in the butter until combined. Pour the syrup over the dates and serve.