I am a huge ice cream lover. HUGE. When I was a little girl chocolate ice cream was my favorite treat. I used to eat as much as I could until my belly hurt.
To this day, I still love ice cream. However I am not a huge fan of how I feel after eating dairy. This past month since JonPaul and I have been eating clean, I haven’t had any dairy at all and I feel great. So great that it got me thinking about switching out some of my favorite “go-to” foods with healthier, dairy-free options. One of those being ice cream.
Now I am NOT a vegan chef, and I am definitely not vegan. So this is not my area of expertise. But I still wanted to give it a try.
Since I am new to this whole dairy-free ice cream making world, I did a little searching on the superweb and played around with some recipes. I was definitely a little skeptical at first (especially when I was soaking cashews and dates on a Saturday night). But low and behold to my surprise, I was blown away. The texture is outstanding, and the flavors are rich, deep and decadent.
My favorite recipe that I came across was from Dana over at The Minimalist Baker (you can find her original post here). It uses coconut milk, cashews and maple syrup, then she adds this beautiful salted caramel made from dates. It’s not overly sweet, has a silky rich texture and just a hint of salt (and plus I’m kind of obsessed with her mad food photography skills). An easy introduction for anyone wanting to give dairy-free ice cream a try.
The beauty that I’m finding with dairy-free ice creams is that it’s really only two steps. Blending all the ingredients together, and then placing it in an ice cream machine. That’s it! There is no heating up a base, or making a custard. So from my experience, I actually found making this dairy free version easier than making traditional ice cream.
I also added a little honey to my version and loved how it paired with the nuttiness of the ice cream. However if you want a truly “vegan” ice cream, feel free to skip the honey and replace it with agave or maple syrup.
To serve I added a few crumbles of granola for a little crunch and a touch more of the caramel sauce. It was the perfect dessert to finish off the weekend. Light, sweet, silky and oh yeah…..kept my tummy happy!
- For the ice cream
- 1½ cups raw cashews (soaked at least 6 hours, or overnight)
- 1 15 oz. can of coconut milk (not light)
- 3 tbsp. of melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup of maple syrup
- ¼ cup of honey (or skip, and use ½ cup of maple syrup instead of ¼)
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 1 tbsp of vodka (helps prevent crystals forming, but can skip if you'd like)
- pinch of sea salt
- For the salted date caramel
- 14 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- ½ tsp of of sea salt
- 3 tbsp of warm water (add more if needed to thin out sauce)
- 1 tbsp of bourbon (feel free to skip)
- for the Ice Cream
- the night before, be sure to place your ice cream churn in the freezer to properly freeze all the way. Also be sure to soak your cashews overnight
- Add soaked, drained cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, honey, vanilla and salt in a high speed blender. Blend on high until you have a rich, smooth consistency.
- Pour the ice cream base into a bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours (the longer you let it chill, the better it will churn)
- Add chilled ice cream base into your ice cream maker and churn according to manufactures directions (most likely 30-40 minutes).
- Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce
- Add dates, water, sea salt and bourbon to a high-speed blender. Blend until a smooth creamy consistency, adding more water as needed to create a consistency you like.
- Once the ice cream is done churning, transfer half of the ice cream to a freezer safe container, and add 3 tbsp of the caramel sauce as well as a sprinkle of sea sat. Add remaining ice cream on top and again cover with caramel sauce and a pink of sea salt. Slowly use a knife, to run ribbons of caramel through the ice cream
- Smooth, cover well and freeze for 4-6 hours, or until firm.
- To serve, remove from the freezer and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Scoop out into individual bowls and top with granola or toppings of your choice.
Have you ever made dairy-free ice cream before?? If so, any helpful suggestions for me for next time? Share any recipes you love!! I can’t wait to keep my ice cream maker busy churning away!