Coconut Ice Cream with Caramel and Fudge Ribbons

coconut ice cream caramel fudge

As I mentioned yesterday, the pièce de résistance of our Oscar Sunday was this Coconut Ice Cream with Caramel and Fudge Ribbons. It's easily one of the best ice creams I've ever made, and almost makes the lack of dairy in my life completely bearable. Oh, that's right - those three glorious gooey scoops have absolutely zero dairy. I concocted this recipe solely for the purpose of testing the limits of dairy free-dom... could there be such a thing as a dairy free ice cream I'd crave even after my dairy free days are behind me? Well, I'm happy to say I think I've found it. Here's how to make it...

Note that you don't have to make any of this dairy free. Just use regular heavy cream and butter where noted in the sauce ingredients. For the ice cream, make a regular vanilla ice cream base, substituting half the milk with coconut milk.

You'll need to make everything separately - the caramel sauce, the hot fudge sauce, and the coconut ice cream. Yes, it's a lot of steps, but both sauce recipes make way more than you'll need for the ice cream, so you could make the ice cream 3 or 4 more times and only have to make the sauces once. Or you could just grab a spoon and eat the leftover sauce right out of the jar. I won't judge. Either way, you'll need to start by making my faux heavy cream using a couple cans of coconut milk.

Coconut milk heavy cream substitute


  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (I recommend Thai Kitchen brand)


Open both cans of coconut milk and spoon the coconut fat ONLY (the thick white stuff at the top) into a medium size bowl. Then, add all of the liquid from one can and half of the liquid from the other can into the bowl. Whisk until smooth. Note that this will appear much thicker than regular heavy cream. That's okay. (I tried thinner - and even thinner than that - versions and this thickness worked best.)

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups coconut milk heavy cream substitute (or regular heavy cream if not making it dairy free)
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract


Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully. When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir. Measure out the coconut milk heavy cream substitute in a liquid measuring cup and set aside. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat. Carefully whisk in half of the coconut milk heavy cream substitute. The mixture will steam and bubble violently. Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

If you're attempting this recipe, you really must read this post by David Lebovitz on making the perfect caramel. Even following his extremely helpful advice, it took me 3 tries to get the caramel just right. It's tricky, but it's so worth it.

Source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Dairy Free Hot Fudge Sauce


  • 3/4 cup coconut milk heavy cream substitute (or regular heavy cream if not making it dairy free)
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (if you don't have dark, just use light and add a teaspoon of molasses)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dairy free butter substitute (I like Earth Balance), cut into small pieces (or use regular salted butter if not making it dairy free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Mix the cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook stirring frequently, for 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Serve warm.

(This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Rewarm gently in the microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat)

Alright, with the special ingredients all prepped, you're ready to make the ice cream!

Coconut Ice Cream with Caramel and Hot Fudge Ribbons


  • 2 14 oz. cans of full fat coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp raw honey
  • Caramel sauce
  • Hot fudge sauce
  • ice cream maker


Set up a double boiler by placing a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (be sure it’s simmering and not a full rolling boil, as this will give you better control later). Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract to the bowl. Stirring fairly frequently, heat until the coconut milk is hot but not boiling.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs well in a separate bowl. Once the coconut milk is hot, add a ladleful to the eggs while you’re whisking – you want to bring the eggs up to the temperature of the coconut milk without scrambling them. Add in another ladleful of hot coconut milk to the egg mixture while whisking. Take the now hot egg mixture and whisk it into the bowl of coconut milk on the double boiler.

Now, whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to a custard. This may take several minutes. If it’s getting too hot and starting to scramble, remove from the heat immediately but keep whisking, then return it to the double boiler. Once it has thickened to a custard, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool.

Once the custard is cool enough for you to stick your finger in it and hold it there without burning, whisk in the raw honey. Put the custard base in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight). Freeze in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spoon a small amount of the ice cream into a large, sealable bowl. Then spread a small layer of the fudge sauce onto the ice cream. Spoon more of the ice cream into the bowl, then a layer of caramel, then more ice cream, etc. Keep going, working in layers until all of the ice cream is in the bowl. Now run a butter knife through the ice cream (I found a figure eight worked well, but use whatever motion you'd like - just make sure not to overmix!)

That's it! Okay, I know it seems like a lot of work. But, I promise it's worth it. Especially if you love ice cream but can't have dairy. And it's perfect for kids with dairy allergies who never get to enjoy fun stuff like caramel sauce and hot fudge. My heart aches for their deprived taste buds.

Please, please let me know if you make this or if you're thinking about attempting it and have any questions!