Ice Cream Science and Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

BakerBettie Frozen, Summer, Sweets, Vegan 60 Comments

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

July is national ice cream month, which really just makes me feel like I have an excuse to make and eat a lot of ice cream.

Have you ever wondered what makes traditional ice cream different from frozen custard or soft serve or sorbet? Am I the only one that thinks about these things? Well I do think about these things, a lot. I always want to know how things work and why things are the way that they are. I guess that’s why I love science so much.  I love food equally as much, so here we go with some food science!

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Traditional Ice Cream: is made with milk, cream and sugar. It is churned at a fairly fast speed infusing it with air and making it lighter and creamier than frozen custard or gelato.  Ice cream that is made with a small amount of egg yolks is often referred to as French Ice Cream. Every wonder what makes French vanilla different than regular vanilla? Egg yolks!

Soft Serve Ice Cream: Really the main difference between soft serve and traditional ice cream is that it is churned and stored at a higher temperature.  It often has a lower butterfat content, but the difference in consistency is really dependent on not allowing it to freeze as hard.

Sorbet: is a frozen fruity dessert that contains no dairy.  It is also known as italian ice. This is a vegan friendly dessert.

Sherbet: is also a fruity frozen dessert, however unlike sorbet, it also contains milk or cream. It may also contain eggs or gelatin.

Frozen Yogurt: is made with yogurt instead of cream as well as milk.  The yogurt gives it a more tart taste and it contains less fat than ice cream due to not using cream. It is also traditionally frozen at higher temperature so that it is more of a soft serve than a hard frozen product.

Gelato: is the word Italians use for ice cream.  The main difference between Italian gelato and American ice cream is that gelato contains much less butterfat (usually meaning less cream) than American ice cream. Gelato also traditionally contains more sugar than ice cream.  If you have ever tasted gelato you will know that it is much creamier and denser than American ice cream. The reasoning for this is that it is churned slower than ice cream so therefore less air is whipped into it making a more dense product. (source)

Frozen Custard: Custard, by definition, is referred to a cooked mixture involving milk or cream and egg yolks.  Traditional ice cream also involves egg yolks sometimes, but frozen custard has a higher ratio of egg yolks than ice cream. Frozen custard also has a texture similar to gelato and therefore is also churned in a machine similar to gelato preventing as much air into the product and making it more dense.

So what is your favorite kind of ice cream? 

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Today I made a sort of sub-category of traditional ice cream.  A vegan ice cream made with coconut milk.  One of the things I love so much about coconut milk ice cream is that it mimics traditional ice cream so well.  I honestly would be surprised if people would know that it didn’t have dairy in it if you didn’t tell them.  The only downside is that it does have a fairly strong coconut flavor, which I love, but I know some people do not.  My next ice cream feat is to create a vegan ice cream without coconut milk.  But until then, this is maybe one of my favorite creations yet!

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

I soaked the cherries in spiced rum before putting the mixture together.  The bit of alcohol in the mixture not only brings an incredible depth of flavor, but also allows this ice cream to stay somewhat of a soft serve after frozen, which I appreciate.  You could also soak the cherries in bourbon or another flavored liquor if you want, or you could skip this step all together if it isn’t your thing.  You could also smash the ice cream in between a couple of gluten free brownies if you have eaten really healthy all week and are ready to be a bit naughty…

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Check out the recipe for those brownies here!

Drunken Cherry Coconut Ice Cream (dairy free, vegan)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted (if you don't have a cherry pitter, hammer a clean nail into a piece of wood and push the cherry over the top of the nail pushing the pit out)
  • spiced rum
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other milk of choice, can also use more coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • ¼ cup agave (or other sweetener or choice)
  • 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  1. Place one cup of the cherries in a small bowl and pour in enough spiced rum to cover the cherries. Soak for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Drain the cherries through a strainer. (I reserved the rum for a cherry infused cocktail!)
  3. Roughly chop the remaining 1 cup of cherries.
  4. Place the soaked cherries, coconut milk, almond milk, arrowroot, and agave in a blender and blend until combined.
  5. Mix in the chopped cherries, dark chocolate and pecans.
  6. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.
  7. If you do not have an ice cream maker, place in the freezer and stir vigorously about every hour for 6 hours.
Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies
How to Cut Fresh Pineapple & The Easiest Pineapple Sorbet

Comments 60

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  3. Andi Houston

    I'm in Florida where fresh cherries are shipped great distances and usually don't taste very good. I'm going to try this with dried cherries rehydrated in rum. Thank you for including instructions for those with no ice cream maker! I'll let you know how it goes.

  4. Andi Houston

    I’m in Florida where fresh cherries are shipped great distances and usually don’t taste very good. I’m going to try this with dried cherries rehydrated in rum. Thank you for including instructions for those with no ice cream maker! I’ll let you know how it goes.


  5. Andrea

    I pinned this months ago, and now that it’s 90+ in Boston, we are making this. Kind of messed up at the start by marinating all the cherries (in cherry liqueur). It was just disappointingly not sweet enough and even though I used all coconut milk, it didn’t have a definite coconut flavor. I wouldn’t make it again without some major adjustments, sorry.

    1. Baker Bettie

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you hoped Andrea. That is too bad, because this is one of my favorite recipe creations and I actually won an ice cream recipe contest with it as it is!

      But everyone has different flavor preferences and that is the awesome thing about cooking is you can definitely tweak it the way you like it. I’m wondering if you used something other than agave that might be less sweet? Anyway, you can always add more sweetness! And some coconut extract would up the coconut flavor. Can I ask what brand coconut milk you used? I always use the Thai Kitchen brand but I am curious if other brands maybe don’t have as much of a coconut flavor.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Andrea

        Now I realize the real problem was probably that I used coconut milk–not coconut milk! See? Yea, I used the carton, not the can, which apparently has about 10x the amount of fat and probably a lot more coconut flavor. I did use a good quality agave in the proper amount. I’m sure the results would be quite different with the canned milk. Still, you know when chocolate is cold, it doesn’t taste like much, so that part makes it not great for me. Maybe I’ll give it another try with the proper milk and make it Drunken Cherry Pecan ice cream! We do have a fabulous Italian electric ice cream maker and it’s been especially great to have since becoming vegan. Thanks for your reply to my comment. :)

        1. Baker Bettie

          Oh yes! That would be a problem. The full fat coconut milk (which is what is canned) has much more coconut flavor. And you can definitely add more agave to sweeten it more! You could also use a sweeter chocolate if you wanted. Enjoy life has some chocolate chips that are more of a semi-sweet that would probably add a little more flavor and sweetness.

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  7. Matt Chapman

    Awesome girl! Southern comfort have just released here in Great Britain a blend infused with cherry's , now how would that work?

  8. Amy

    Thank you for this great recipe! I went to a friend’s cherry farm last weekend and I have been looking for a variety of uses for the approximately 25 lbs of cherries I now have in my house. I used bourbon instead of rum, since bourbon is king in my household. I also used semi-sweet chocolate chips, because that’s all I had in the house and I had all the other ingredients. It’s in the ice cream maker now and I can hardly wait for it to freeze up…hopefully in time for us to enjoy after our dinner tonight. I look forward to making this again!

  9. Crystal

    .My mind wonders all the time how things work and why. I was the annoying child who never could keep toys whole. The major problem as my parents saw it, my toys were boring…my brothers on the other hand were just fabulous with great parts to tinker with. And now that Im older, food is tinkered with.
    Now on to the all important ice cream. Perhaps someone mentioned and I missed it in the comment section.
    Do you think a cashew cream would be the “consistancy” needed but not have the coconut flavor? Our house is divided. Half cant stand the frozen banana based ice creams and the rest cant stand coconut. Ive been looking into making cashew milk/cream by buying cashews and putting them in the blender with water until creamy but they are a major investment with a lot of unknown. Especially with these super picky people.

  10. Teri-Ann

    LOVE the look of this recipe & can’t wait to give it a go. I just want to check how big the can of coconut milk is? I’ve been caught out before by differing package sizes between UK & US before!!

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