you put the curry in the coconut…

Rarely does a pastry chef dazzle me more than the chef. 

Coconut-Curry Sorbet

I recently encountered an inspired sorbet. Not surprisingly, it was at Cru.  (Read my review here).  There, I enjoyed Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac’s wonderful sampling of ice creams

Out sailed an enameled barge bearing five gorgeous and perfectly round scoops of cold creamy treats nestled in a row on a bed of crumbled shortbread crumbs: yogurt, basil, strawberry, butter-pecan and… coconut curry.

That last one may sound strange to some, but believe it or not, I’ve had variations of coconut curry ice cream before.  But, Chef MacIsaac’s version was truly outstanding.  It struck the right balance between coconut and curry – each playing and equal and distinct role.  Cardamom danced to the fore along with the milky tropical perfume of the coconut.  A subtle dash of heat and a slight salty prod rounded out the flavor profile.

Althought it’s a sorbet, it was the creamiest and richest of the five tastings.  Ice cream, by it’s very definition, must contain cream.  There are ice milks, and even sherbet, which is dairy + fruit.  And, then there’s sorbet – non-dairy liquid mixed with other ingredients, most commonly fruits. Coconut “milk”, although as creamy (in fact often higher in saturated fat content than cream) as dairy cream, is plant-derived.  Therefore, in frozen form, coconut “milk” cannot be ice cream, but rather “sorbet.” 

I ventured to get the recipe from Chef MacIssac, and she most generously shared it with me.  There were only two problems: (1) her recipe required some rather bothersome ingredients for the home cook to obtain, and (2) she made up her curry, and had only a rough guide as to what to put in it.  So off I went (with helpful hints and suggestions from MacIsaac) with my imagination to my spice rack and kitchen to make something manageable for the home cook.  Here’s what I ended up with:

CoconutCurry Sorbet

2 cans of coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
4 cups light corn syrup
2 tablespoon of curry powder, or to taste, recipe follows
2 teaspoons salt


1. Heat the first three ingredients in a non-reactive pot over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.  

2. While the mixture is still warm, stir in the curry powder in increments until it reaches the desired taste.  Make sure that the curry is evenly distributed.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. Chill the base overnight (preferably) or at least 3 to 4 hours.  Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When the ice cream is near-frozen, add in the 2 teaspoons of salt.  Transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.

Curry Powder

Edited: Out of respect for Ms. McIsaac, at her request, I have removed her recipe for the curry powder from this post.  I was unable to make her recipe exactly, so I played around with different spices to suite my personal tastes.  I can provide a rough guideline as to what I included: cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, allspice, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and cumin.  If you can get whole seeds, toast them before grinding them.  Of course, your favorite pre-mixed curry powder will do just as well.  Have fun experimenting!

~ by ulterior epicure on June 26, 2007.

7 Responses to “you put the curry in the coconut…”

  1. WOW. I am trying to imagine what this would taste like….need to try it now.

  2. one question…do you think this would taste better as an ice cream?

  3. Jaden: The coconut-curry is great, you should definitely try it out at home. What do you mean by “do you think this would taste better as an ice cream?”

  4. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the sorbet so much even though you left a somwhat uncomplimentary review of our restaurant. (it is funny that the chocolate tasting read so “boring” because it is actually one of the most complex desserts on the menu. It is ment to be a plesent suprise :)) You photograophy is also beautiful. I am, however, somewhat shocked to see that you posted the recipe I gave you without asking or informing me first. I am sure you understand that my recipes, like you photos, are my livelyhood. Thank you for your lovely complements but if there is any way you could remove the curry portion of the recipe from the sight I would be greatly appreciative. I know you have my email so if you would like to respond or discuss I would be more then happy to do so. Thanks and happy eating! Check out Sam Masons new restaurant Taylor that is opening soon in NY… Should knock your socks off!

  5. Did you really use 4 cups of corn syrup in this recipe? That seems like an outrageous amount. I however have just started making ice creams and sorbets, but have never used that much corn syrup.

  6. @ maxinewicks: Yes, it seems shocking, but it is correct.

  7. Just found this recipe, it looks divine! I will have to try this ice-cream, thank you for sharing.

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