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.