Bring out the streamers, float the balloons, and sport your best party hats because it’s birthday time! I decided to make an adult ice cream that would be fitting while still festive. And I’m hooked on it — which is ironic because I don’t really consider myself an ice cream person. But this coconut-curry ice cream is its own animal — it has a sweet coconut flavor, the curry gives it a spicy kick, and the salted, roasted cashews make it reminiscent of a salted lassi.
For the coconut: Place coconut in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Toast, turning frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
For the ice cream: Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water (or frozen ice packs) and set aside. Combine everything except egg yolks and vanilla in a medium saucepan and whisk until evenly combined. Place mixture over medium-high heat, whisking regularly, until it just boils and the sugar is dissolved.
Whisking the hot coconut milk into the egg yolks helps temper the mixture so the yolks don’t get overcooked and curdle.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks in a medium bowl until they are smooth and evenly combined. When the coconut milk is ready, slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk mixture into the yolks until well combined. Add the yolk mixture to the pan, add in the coconut, and cook the custard over medium heat until it just coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute more.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and pour mixture into a medium glass or metal bowl. Nest the medium bowl in the ice water bath and stir every few minutes until mixture is cold, at least 20 minutes. (If the ice bath gets warm, pour out water and add more ice as needed to keep it cold.) Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the coconut and ginger. Process the custard base in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once the ice cream base is chilled, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours before churned.
Transfer ice cream to a shallow 2-quart container (preferably glass or metal), cover, and freezer until thoroughly frozen, at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the topping.
The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 1 week.
For the cashews: Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the nuts with honey and a pinch of salt and mix until well coated. Spread a thin layer of canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil on a rimmed baking sheet then spread cashews in a single layer and roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic, about 10 to 15 minutes total. Remove from oven, immediately toss with remaining 1 cup of toasted coconut, and set aside to cool completely. Serve the ice cream with a sprinkling of the cashew-coconut mixture and enjoy!
The topping can be made up to 4 days ahead of time; store covered at room temperature.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp