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Have you ever been asked the ‘if you could only bring one food to a desert island’ question? I’m sure you have. What was your answer?
If we’re talking sweet foods, there’s no doubt in my mind that the one and only answer for me would be ‘ice cream’. Even if it were the North Pole I was being exiled to. Don’t care.
I don’t care about pies, tarts, lava cakes, layered cakes, macarons or pastries. You can keep ‘em. What I love to eat the most on this planet is luscious gelato – digging my spoon and collect a scoop of creamy, cold deliciousness that instantly melts my your mouth in an explosion of flavors is one of those life pleasures I like to indulge in every now and again.
I also like my ice cream to be organic, made with local ingredients, and low in sugar. Because I have at least three organic gelaterie very close to home that abide to all these rules,I always had very little wish to make my own gelato. And, because it is my guilty pleasure and because I know my trustworthy gelateria makes their own gelato with top notch ingredients, I never really cared about avoiding it because of dairy. If I really feel like going dairy free that day, I’ll just have a combo of coconut milk and cinnamon pear flavors (the cinnamon pear flavor is as amazing as it sounds).
The only attempt I made at trying proper vegan ice cream was when, last time I was in New York, I looked for Lula’s Apothecary, only to find it closed much to my disappointment. After that episode, I resorted to Victory Garden instead and never thought about vegan ice cream again – especially after eating freshly churned bourbon vanilla ice cream with brownie bits from Ample Hills Creamery, which we had churned ourselves by means of an old-fashioned churner powered by a bike at the Brooklyn Smorgasborg.
Until the ’N’Ice Cream’ book came into my life.
Virpi from the blog Vanelja and Tuulia Talvio, who both have AMAZING blogs, created a book of icy wonders. I had never tried vegan ice cream before, but if it s only half as good as the one that I was able to make with their recipe I might not even need my beloved ricotta flavor anymore.
Reminiscent of that wonderful Bourbon vanilla ice cream I had from Ample Hills Creamery, and never having tried vegan ice cream before, I decided to go with their basic Creamy Vanilla N’Ice Cream, made out of cashews and coconut milk. The recipe also has a sub-recipe to make your own coconut milk, which I made before and am in love with.
With the leftover pulp from making coconut milk, I made a sort of vegan lemon crinkle cookies, which turned out much yummier than I expected considering that I kinda eyeballed them, and that I decided to crumble into the ice cream. Need I say more?
Everything was so delicious – I am really trying to control myself to avoid eating the whole batch, in spite of the fact that I used much less sugar/sweetener than called for in recipes. I’ll mention the adjustments i made, but it is up to youth decide what is bestir your needs. Either way, you cannot go wrong with this recipe. I even made it without an ice cream maker!
I also got some sugar cones and covered them in super dark chocolate and pistachios, more for prettiness than for taste.
I was sort of thinking of making a berry sauce to go with it, but it really doesn’t need it. Instead, I used the leftover chocolate from the cones to make a sort of magic shell sauce. You could also mix it into the ice cream to make stracciatella, and that would really bring this ice cream over the top.
The only downside to making this without an ice cream maker is that once it’s frozen solid it’s…well, frozen solid. You might need to take it out the freezer some 15-20 mins earlier, and maybe re-blend it to break the ice crystals. I think it is best enjoyed when half-frozen, so calculate your timing accordingly.
For serving, you can go crazy with your favorite toppings! With vanilla ice cream, my faves are dark chocolate or berry compote (or both). Or stir in peanut butter, make a sundae with fruit and granola, or what have you. It’s so good you won’t believe it’s healthy(even though I’d still keep it for a workout day, ha)!
FOR THE CONES + MAGIC CHOCOLATE SHELL:
1 oz / 30 g extra dark chocolate (70% to 90% cocoa mass), broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
4 sugar cones (gluten-free if needed)
A handful of finely chopped pistachios
Just melt the chocolate with the coconut oil in the microwave or over a bain marie, and dip the cones in. Dust with chopped pistachios and let set in the fridge. Put them in a glass so that they stand up straight.
- The meat from 2 coconuts
- 3 cups water
- ¾ cup / 100g cashew nuts, soaked overnight
- 3 ~ 4 tablespoons maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
- 400 ml (1 standard can) coconut milk, or 2 scant cups homemade coconut milk
- 1 whole vanilla bean (or sub a couple teaspoons vanilla extract or powder)
- 150 g leftover coconut pulp
- 50 g brown rice flour
- 50 g coconut flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 50g to 100g whole brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 flax egg, made with 1 tablespoon ground flax and 2 tablespoons water
- ⅓ cup / 80 ml melted virgin coconut oil
- The zest and juice from one lemon (leave out and sub with 1 tsp cinnamon or vanilla to change flavors)
- Icing sugar for coating
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pierce one of the eyes of the coconut and pour the water into a blender. To break the coconut, I like to wrap it in a towel or resistant plastic bag, then think of something I'd like to smash in the face and smash it on outdoors as if I'm smashing a hammer on an anvil, because it feels nice. If you're less hardcore, a hammer on a wooden board will do.
- Break the coconut meat into pieces and add to the blender along with the water. I prefer to keep it plain, but you can add vanilla or other spices you like. Blend blend blend. It will be quite thick.
- Line a bowl with muslin or cheesecloth, pour in the pureed meat, and wash the blender with an extra scant half cup water, swirling it to catch all the leftover meat. Pour that water in as well, wrap the cloth and squeeze the milk, squeezing out as much as you can. When done, transfer to a wide mouth jar.
- I recommend making the milk the night before. That way, the fatties part will separate to the surface and you'll be able to use it for the ice cream.
- Drain the soaked cashews and add to a blender along with the coconut milk (if using homemade, use the top part, scooping up all the fat), the sweetener and the vanilla. I added the whole bean, not just the seeds!
- Process / blend until as smooth as possible. Pour into a tray with tall edges - metal will make the freezing process faster. To make this without an ice cream maker, stir your ice cream with a fork for two times for the first hour (every 30 minutes). If you wand to add any add-ins, this is the time.
- Then, fluff the ice cream every 20 minutes for another hour or two, until set. The more often you fluff it with the fork, the better it will be. You could even blend it again and briefly freeze it a second time to set before serving to make it super smooth.
- Add the coconut pulp to a bowl along with the rice flour, coconut flour, lemon zest (or cinnamon), sugar and baking powder, and mix with your hands to break up any lumps and make a smooth mix.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flax meal with the water and set aside for 5 minutes to make the flax egg. Add the melted coconut oil, lemon juice (leave out if making other flavors) and vanilla, mix and pour into the dry mix. Mix with your hand until you come up with a sort of 'sandy' dough, make it into a ball and leave in the fridge for 20 ~ 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F˚ / 180 C˚.
- When ready, roll the dough into 20 ~ 25 small balls, and roll them in the icing sugar. Slightly flatten them, and lino on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for about 30 minutes, until slightly golden. Turn off the oven and let them stand 5 minutes, then take them out and wait for them to completely cool before eating or crumbling into the ice cream.
MAKE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
When making the cookies, make larger balls and flatten them to obtain 3 inch disks. Make a sandwich by stuffing them with a scoop of ice cream, then dip them in the magic shell and into the chopped pistachios. Lay them on a griddle with a tray below it to catch any chocolate drippings, and let set in the freezer for a few minutes before enjoying!
MAKE A VEGAN SUNDAE / PARFAIT
Add a scoop of ice cream to a glass cup (the pretty ones specifically for parfaits if you want to be fancy), top with chocolate or berry sauce, chopped pistachios, and crumble in a cookie. Repeat, and finish with more topping and, why not, with a cherry on top for prettiness (here’s a recipe for Spiced Cherries Preserves in Sweet Spirits if you don’t know what to do with them now that they are plentiful).
Thank you Vanelja and Tuulia! I will be making lots more!
PS: if you have recommendations for vegan ice cream in NY (or for vegan eats in general), let me know!
I lived in NY, that’s true, but both myself and the city have changed a lot in the time I’ve been gone, so I need to know what I’ve been missing!