Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lychee-Vanilla Coconut Cooler

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Fresh lychees have been very plentiful this summer, and I've been eating them a few times a week by the handfuls. Even though they've become a familiar fixture in my kitchen, they still have a slightly exotic and indulgent quality to them. Encased around a thin but tough leathery skin, lychees reveal a plump and subtly sweet fruit inside that tastes best as is—simple, fresh and whole.

However, as I was cleaning out my refrigerator this weekend, I came across some leftover coconut milk and decided to puree them with some of the fresh lychees, and then transferred the mixture into some popsicle molds. After they had chilled overnight in the freezer, I wasn't able to get them to cleanly separate from their molds, and they came out in very jagged and unphotogenic clumps. So I decided to salvage them by creating an ice-cold cooler instead, and threw in some black tapioca pearls before serving for some contrasting texture. Just like fresh lychees, this cooler was simple, slightly exotic and perfectly refreshing.

10-12 fresh lychees, peeled
2 cups coconut milk
1 1/4 cups almond or hemp milk
pinch of salt
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 to 3/4 cup black tapioca pearls

Bring four cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Throw in the tapioca pearls and boil for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from the water and place into a container. Cover with fresh water and place a lid on it and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. 

Combine all of the other ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a container and place in the refrigerator to chill. About an hour before serving, place it in the freezer. Add some of the tapioca pearls to the cooler before serving. 


  1. yes, lychees! love these little gems. i introduced dw to rambutanns a couple of weeks ago and they're fantastical. lychees tho are not available here, and unless i want him to try the canned version, i will have to hold off until we're in SE asia.

    i would never have thought to pair lychees with coconut milk, how refreshing.

    1. The first time I saw rambutans, I had no idea what they were, and the sign above them was in Chinese, so I scooped up a few cups, then started googling to figure out what the heck they were.

      I think its almost a sin to mush up the lychees like this, but the flavor is definitely amazing!

  2. this looks so delicious!! i've never had a lychee before, but i'm going to have to seek them out now. the tapioca pearls are a beautiful contrast of color.

  3. this is such a great idea! like your own bubble tea :) i love lychees!

  4. i pick up lychees when i can from the asian store. i miss the big basketfulls we used to get back home! love the refreshing cooler

  5. There's a farmer's market not far from my house in Atlanta where I like to take friends to sample fresh lychees for the first time. (Too often they've only had them canned, in non-vegan jelly candies (ick!), or not at all.) The store has a policy wherein you can try whatever you like before you buy. The lychees are always the favorite, though I also adore mangosteen and rambutan.


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