Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

Ice cream has many faces. To young children, ice cream is a delight, enchanting both the mind and the mouth. The frozen treat leaves a sticky smudge all over their faces as they attempt to lick the bowl clean. In the heat of a wild summer, ice cream cools down the body during warm afternoons, bringing a smile to anyone who happens to find a towering cone in their hands. Ice cream can also be a comfort food, a friend in moments when the world just isn't in your favor.

During my college years, my friend and I developed a ritual to coping with boy trouble whenever we found ourselves in a wearisome place. The routine always began with a hesitant call on the phone; once the strain of the situation became evident in one of our discordant voices, it was time to take action. The solution for these problems was always the same—ice cream. The grocery store became a fixture in those moments, as we'd wander the frozen food aisle carefully choosing the chilled tonic that would heal our wounds.

In the eve of twilight, we'd walk our heavy souls to a nearby park, with spoons in our back pockets, and dig into the melting cream, eating more than we should have dared. Just as the remaining ice cream would melt into a pool in the bottom of the container, the rush of sorrow and heartbreak and the unfairness of love would come spilling out of one of our hearts. As one bared her soul to the other, the other would open her ears, hoping the simple act of listening would lift just a part of burden the other carried. Some nights we'd find solutions to the problems together, but more often than not the troubles would hang in the air, unsolved and unresolved, as a satisfying answer failed to appear.

When the sugar would gather in our bloodstreams, we'd find ourselves on the park swings, cursing men and love with every pump of our legs. Higher and higher into the air we would fly as the metal chains of the swings began to shake. In those moments, with a belly full of ice cream and a dear friend by our side, the weight of the world would lift an inch off our shoulders for just a moment and we could begin to feel free.

To me, ice cream has always been a healer—a healer of broken hearts, hot summer days, and scraped knees. Ice cream has the uncanny ability to ease the troubles of life and bring lightness to the heaviest of situations. Ice cream, in its own way, is a carrier of happiness. In the chocolate swirls, strawberry chunks, and Neapolitan flavors, there holds a promise of smiles, happy moments, and ice cream smudged faces.

This is why I love ice cream.

Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream is light and creamy, with bursts of strawberry flavor. Strawberries are sliced, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and sweetened with a spoonful of sugar before roasting in the oven until the berries are dark and sweet. The ice cream is very simple to assemble (and dairy/egg-free!). The flavors alternate between spoonfuls of smooth coconut and bright strawberries.

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Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

Yields 1 1/2 pints

Roasted Strawberries
1/2 pint (8 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a bowl, mix together the quartered strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Spread evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the berry juices have thickened (but are not burning). Remove from the oven and chill in the refrigerator until cold. Cut the strawberry quarters into smaller pieces for a smoother ice cream.

Coconut Ice Cream
14 ounces (414 ml) full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup (118 ml) soy or almond milk (whole or 2% milk will also work)
1/4 cup (56 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Chill in the refrigerator until cold.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is nearly finished churning, add the roasted strawberries to incorporate evenly. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.