Growing up in the tropics, cheese really didn't feature much in our everyday diet. We had durians and fermented shrimp paste (belacan), and that was enough odorous foods for one culture to have to endure. It's all very different the kids growing up in this more global world now, of course.
Coconut milk, on the other hand, does feature a lot in our tropical cuisine, from breakfast snacks, main meals and desserts. Saying that, however, our use of it nowadays is in more measured amounts due to the high oil and sugar content (coconut cream especially).
Like chalk and cheese
I've been toying with the idea of mixing one of the most Eastern ingredient with one of the most Western and finally came up with this Coconut-Cheese ice cream recipe. My tastebuds know for a fact that thyme goes extremely well with cheese so that was thrown in for good measure. On its own, this creamy, distinctively Cheddary ice cream is already worthy of a gasp. But try eating a spoonful of it drizzled with warm, cinnamon-scented cranberry-orange sauce and topped with spicy, gingery walnuts, and you're bound to hear absolute silence as the world around you stops moving! Trust me when I say this, it is that good.
Top: Cranberry-Orange sauce, Bottom: Spicy walnuts
Out of the oven - spicy, sweet, crisp walnuts with ginger and cayenne pepper
Next time you have guests over for a party, be daring enough to serve this understatedly sexy, elegant and complex dessert all rolled into one. Oh, and remember to print out copies of the recipe as your guests will be asking for it!
If you're making this dessert for any adorable tiny tots, just substitute the coconut milk with regular milk and leave out the salt and spices.
Coconut-Cheese Ice Cream with Thyme, Cranberry Sauce and Spiced Walnuts
Coconut-Cheese Ice Cream with Thyme
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 125g (4oz) cheddar cheese, grated
• 125g (4oz) cream cheese, diced
• 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
• 3/4 cup honey
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup dried cranberries (or 2 cups fresh berries)
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 egg white
• 1 teaspoon water
• 2 cups walnuts
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Coconut-Cheese Ice Cream with Thyme
1. In a small heavy bottom sauce pot, bring the coconut milk and heavy cream to a boil.
2. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, honey, thyme and salt.
3. Blend this mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, then cool completely before freezing mixture in ice-cream maker.
4. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. Let ice-cream soften 5 minutes before serving.
1. Combine cranberries, orange juice, sugar/honey, vanilla and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves; boil for 1 minute.
2. Strain into bowl. Reserve cranberries. Return juices and cinnamon stick to the same pan. Mix 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in small bowl; stir into juices in pan. Stir over medium heat until juices boil and thicken, about 1 minute. Mix in reserved cranberries. Chill compote 2 hours.
1. Preheat oven to 120°C/250°F.
2. Whisk together egg white and water in a large bowl until frothy and stir in nuts. Stir together sugar, ground ginger and cayenne pepper/chilli powder and stir into nuts, coating well. Spread nuts on a lightly buttered pan and bake in middle of oven until dry, about 50 minutes. Cool and chop into bite-size chunks.
To serve, scoop ice cream into sundae glasses, top with cranberry-orange sauce and chopped spiced walnuts.