For ice cream dilettantes, the end of summer usually means a serious decline in frozen treats, but for those of us who are serious about dessert, seasons are fairly meaningless — except that we know the suggestion to go out and grab a cone in November will likely be met with a quizzical look.
Ice cream has been my very favorite food since I can remember having one, and though I definitely enjoy the occasional cone of the good stuff (the last being at the world-famous Polar Cave Ice Cream in Cape Cod, which served me a mind-blowing house-made Rocky Road in a fresh waffle cone), I find that when I eat ice cream frequently, my jeans get too tight tout suite. (Being a fashion-lover and a dessert-lover must be some kind of cosmic joke, no?)
So I’m always on the prowl for lighter substitutes for ice cream that aren’t horribly boring — ice milk, I’m looking at you here.
Since I am a bit of a slave to Whole Foods, I notice when new health food products come along, and about a year ago, I started noticing both coconut water (which I got a taste for during childhood Caribbean travels) and coconut milk concoctions popping up in the market. There’s coconut milk, coconut coffee creamer (surely more healthy than that scary International Delights stuff which is all gums and artificial flavors) and coconut milk ice cream, all by So Delicious, a presumptuous company name if I’ve ever heard one, but they live up to it. I’d tried their soy ice cream and it was pretty darn good, so I gave the coconut version a try — and I was hooked.
Is it just like ice cream? No way. And if you don’t like a (pretty mild) coconut flavor, then this stuff is not for you, but as a coconut-enjoyer, I think it pairs nicely with both fruit and chocolate flavors. My fave is probably the Cherry Amaretto as I'm partial to fruity desserts (but there are plenty of other varieties, like German chocolate, cookies and cream, etc.) The flavors are all well-balanced, and it’s a very satisfying dessert; creamy and seemingly richer than the calories (just 140 per 1/2 cup serving, which is literally half that of regular ice cream). I think it’s a worthy ice cream sub, doesn't have any questionable ingredients, and after months of regular enjoyment, the various flavors have kept me interested. It also pairs well with pie (especially great if you have vegan guests at an upcoming party or dinner) and works nicely in a smoothie/milkshake.
Of course, you’ll have to try it to see if you love it as much as I do. My boyfriend takes a pass on it every time I offer — but he’s one of those enviably tall and slim guys who spends his days doing yoga, so he can enjoy the real thing whenever he wants. For those of us who can’t, So Delicious Coconut Milk dessert is a super-tasty (and animal-product free) substitute.