Most people I’ve met in the United States seem to love the flavor of hazelnuts, but they’re generally not an ingredient we see regularly (compared with Europe or the Middle East). My guess it mostly has to do with the fact that in the U.S. hazelnuts are only grown in Oregon and Washington, and so they’re just harder to come by. In fact, Turkey produces 75% of the world’s hazelnuts, so it makes sense that its neighboring countries would have been the main consumers, certainly before globalization, giving them time to build culinary traditions around this lovely little nut (and yes, ask any European and they’ll tell you Nutella is a culinary tradition)!

This ice cream is almost all coconut milk (with a few eggs and sugar for good measure) so it’s very, very rich. You could always try using half coconut milk and half soy milk, or just a lower fat coconut milk, but if it’s your treat and you like it creamy, I highly recommend you just go for it! There is still some controversy, but growing evidence seems to suggest that coconut milk is very good for you, despite the high saturated fat content. I say, everything in moderation!

The other ice cream in the picture was a plum and raspberry sorbet, but none of us was too crazy about it, so we will keep perfecting the recipe before sharing with you all.

Hazelnut Coconut Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

2 cups coconut milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts (I toast them in the toaster oven for 3 mins)

5 egg yolks

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 oz. dark chocolate

pinch of salt

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of the coconut milk and the sugar, until the sugar has dissolved.

Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Mix them into the coconut milk and sugar mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour.

Break up 1 oz. of the chocolate and put it in a large bowl with a strainer on top. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.

In another saucepan, heat the remaining coconut milk. Pour it over the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour everything back into the saucepan and heat gently, constantly scraping the sides and bottom with a heat proof spatula.

When the mixture starts to coat the back of the spatula, pour it through the strainer over the chocolate. Mix well until all the chocolate has dissolved. Then pour the hazelnut mixture through the strainer as well, making sure you get most of the liquid out. Discard the nuts.

Refrigerate the ice cream mixture until cold, or cool it over an ice bath if you’re in a hurry.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When you are ready to put your ice cream in the freezer, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave (be careful not to burn it….I run it for 30 seconds at a time, then stir it and put it back).

As you put the ice cream in a container, use a fork to keep drizzling over a bit of chocolate. This will re-melt the ice cream a little, but no problem! Just put everything in the freezer and wait for it to freeze again.