Try Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream to celebrate July

photo Kristie Stargell shares her ice cream cone with her daughter Kayleigh Stargell at the Incline Railway Station in St. Elmo in Chattanooga.

July is National Ice Cream Month, established in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan. Ice cream earned a place in American history when it was served by Dolly Madison at her husband's inaugural ball in 1813. In the 18th and 19th centuries, ice cream socials were the social event of the year. In the 20th century, getting an ice cream soda was a standard first date for many young couples. Today, more than 90 percent of the U.S. population regularly eats the creamy dairy delight.

This recipe for Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream is from Nielsen-Massey, makers of pure vanilla extract. It's topped with aromatic toasted coconut for extra texture and taste.

Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup caster or baker's sugar (see note)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 (13.5-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (garnish)

In a small bowl, whisk cream, sugar and vanilla extract until combined; set aside. Pour coconut milk into a large glass measuring cup; add cream/sugar mixture, and stir.

Assemble ice cream maker, and pour ice cream mixture through filling hole. Follow manufacturer's directions to make the ice cream. Be sure to have the ice and coarse salt your ice cream maker requires for operation.

While ice cream is churning, toast the coconut. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a small rimmed baking sheet, evenly spread coconut; place in oven and toast, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, as coconut will toast quickly. Cool and store until ready to use as garnish on ice cream.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts.

Note: Caster sugar, also known as baker's sugar, can be difficult to find. To make a superfine sugar, add granulated sugar to a mini food processor bowl, and pulse until sugar is a superfine but not a powdery consistency.