24 May 2011

Coconut kaffir lime ice cream

I have somewhat of a love affair going on with kaffir lime leaves. Ever since our trip to Thailand back in December, I have made sure to always have a stash of these guys in our freezer. For those who may not know, kaffir limes are a type of lime with a bumpy exterior which are native to Southeast Asia as well as the Indian Ocean islands of La RĂ©union and Madagascar. Also known as combava (this is the standard French translation as well), the rind of these limes as well as their leaves are commonly used in the cuisine of these parts of the world. They lend a pungent, astringent note that is unmistakable.

Kaffir lime leaves are most commonly known as an ingredient in many Thai soups (such as tom kha phak) and curries as well in the famous rum punches of the Indian Ocean countries. Available in Asian supermarkets as well as some specialty food stores, they have an oval shape and can be stored for months in the freezer. In addition to their culinary virtues, they are used in traditional Indonesian medicine as well as in shampoos and hair products in Thailand and Laos (the juice of kaffir limes apparently makes your hair shiny and bright - good to know!).

While I've been happily making Thai soups and curries to my heart's content with my stash of kaffir lime leaves, I've been meaning to experiment with them in sweet preparations as well. Looking at the lone can of coconut milk sitting in our pantry, I decided that a coconut kaffir lime ice cream would make for a worthy experiment. To this ice cream, I added a teaspoon of a very interesting product called super neutrose, which is a stabilizing agent in powder form made up of several natural ingredients (agar-agar, glucose syrup, carob flour). We picked up a box of this stuff at the cooks' paradise G. Detou in Montorgueil in the hopes of churning out softer, creamier ice creams and sorbets.

I was happy with this ice cream, but it should be noted that the kaffir lime is a very strong flavor. A couple of leaves should be more than enough, and be sure not to infuse them too long into the coconut milk/condensed milk mixture. Otherwise you may end up with simply a sweet version of tom kha phak. With just a smidgeon of the kaffir lime flavor though, this is a delicious ice cream. Lime zest and/or some toasted coconut would make for lovely toppings. And the super neutrose, by the way, did indeed do the trick. This was the softest, creamiest ice cream that I've ever made! A great ending to a Thai or other Asian meal!

Makes 4 cups / 1 liter

1 can (400 milliters or 14.5 ounces) coconut milk
3/4 cup condensed milk (sweetened)
1 teaspoon super neutrose or other ice cream stabilizer (optional)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves, julienned

1. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut milk and condensed milk.

2. If you are using it, add the super neutrose or other softener and mix well. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes in order for the softening agents to start working.

3. Pour the mixture in a large saucepan. Add the kaffir lime leaves. Warm over low heat just until heated through (no longer!).

4. Remove the mixture from heat and strain out the kaffir lime leaves. Cool.

5. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manfacturer's directions.


  1. Gosh, I adore kaffir lime leaves and you're brilliant adding this to coconut. Simply stunning! You mention getting them frozen: I only discovered this at Place d'Italie's speciality stores and when I did, there was no turning back to the dried tasteless stuff you get in supermarkets. These leaves of yours are just so packed with gorgeous flavour. Interesting to note you don't use that much. Will have to make this over the summer - esp in this weather! Brilliant.

  2. Excellent! How innovative you are to add the lime leaves to an ice cream! I never came across such an icecream before. Three cheers for you, dear friend.

  3. Amazing flavors! I bet that ice cream is super delicious! Thanks for sharing :) And for the kind well wishes for my mom!

  4. The ice cream's very delicious! I love the flavour of those leaves...

  5. This ice cream sounds absolutely heavenly! I love coconut ice cream to begin with, it is my favorite flavor base, but adding kaffir lime is genious! It must be refreshing and wonderful! I am going to have to try this combo!

  6. This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the combination and presentation.

  7. This is creative! What a great idea! And your picture is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. I swear, if this doesn't get you Top 9, I don't know what will!!!!!!

  8. Don't blame you.. you can't help but fall in love with kaffir lime leaves. Me not a icecream fan but the husband will love this.
    And the photo .. loving the green color you gave to it!

  9. I absolutely adore kaffir lime leaves too!! What a great combination of flavors! This ice cream looks amazing and refreshing... I'll make sure to try it!

  10. Oh my, oh my! That's such a super delicious ice cream! Gorgeous pics too, wish I could have a scoop ~ well, may be 2-3 scoops :D
    US Masala

  11. Oh, kaffir lime leaves are amazingly aromatic and wonderful. What a great idea to make an ice cream out of them!

  12. I wish I could find kaffir lime leaves in my neck of the woods.

    That ice cream looks delicious!

  13. Wow, an ice cream flavored with kaffir lime leaves sounds absolutely wonderful! I would love to try this very unique frozen treat!

  14. Wow, this sounds sooo good!! With this hot weather that is about to happen (sooner or later), I need one more refreshing recipe to add to my repertoire. Thank you for the inspiration!!

  15. Wow, this looks divine! I'll be trying it!

  16. I'm a perfumer and have a fragrance featuring a hint of combava or kaffir lime oil as a topnote. I also have a 'thing' for this odd little fruit and a dwarf tree grows in my garden in Los Angeles.
    I was a kid in the 1950's when General Mills introduced a breakfast cereal called 'Trix'... It had a memorable aroma. Years later, my first whiff of kaffir lime informed me that it was their secret ingredient!