Spicy cinnamon sticks add a warm contrast to this cool dessert and a more complex flavor than you’d get from ground cinnamon alone. This is a perfect alternative to whipped cream served over baked or poached fruit, a fruit crisp, cobbler, pumpkin pie, or your favorite chocolate dessert. SERVES 8
• 3 1/2 cups (two 14-ounce cans) unsweetened, preservative-free coconut milk (regular, not lite), divided
• Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken in half
• 3 to 4 (2-inch by 1/2-inch) strips of lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
• 1/3 cup cool or cold filtered water
• 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin OR 3/4 teaspoon agar agar powder (not the flakes)
• 1/4 cup honey; additional 1 to 3 tablespoons as needed
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder OR 1/2 to 1 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid (start with less; add more only if needed)
• 1/8 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract OR alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
1. Combine 2 cups of coconut milk with the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Add 1/3 cup water to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat, without stirring, until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a blender, Vita-Mix, or food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Add the honey, stevia, sea salt, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract; blend.
3. Reheat the cinnamon-infused coconut milk. Remove cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the cinnamon-infused coconut milk to a blender with the gelatin mixture. Cover and process until smooth. Add the reserved 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and blend. For a sweeter taste, add an additional 1/8 teaspoon stevia and/or 1 tablespoon honey. Add more sweetener if desired.
4. Pour into one or more wide mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning or chill until cold to the touch using an ice bath.
5. Scrape the chilled custard into the canister of your ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately or spoon into several 8- to 16-ounce freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 or more hours for a firmer texture.
6. Soften solidly frozen dessert in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
FYI: To zest a lemon, wash and pat dry an organic lemon. With a paring knife or vegetable peeler, shave off the colored part of the skin. Add the amount indicated below. Refrigerate the naked lemon in a covered container to keep it from drying out.
• Lite Cinnamon Ice Dream: Replace half of the coconut milk with lite (reduced fat) coconut milk. Alternatively, use 100 percent lite coconut milk, but plan to use the batch immediately or within 24 hours before it becomes hard and icy.
• Cinnamon Chocolate Chunk Ice Dream: Add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (a bar with 70 to 73 percent cocoa solids) when Ice Dream reaches the soft serve stage. Run the machine for 1 or 2 more minutes.
• Cinnamon Cookie Crumble Ice Dream: When Ice Dream reaches the soft-serve stage, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled commercial gluten-free honey Graham crackers or crumbled gluten-free ginger snaps. Run the machine for 1 or 2 more minutes.
Don Matesz, L.Ac., is a nutritionist, board-certified herbalist and acupuncturist. He lives and practices in Arizona. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 for a detailed reference list for this article.
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