I know what you’re thinking. Well, maybe I do. If you’re like a certain person I live with, you think it’s completely illogical to make ice cream (or call it ice “cream”) if it’s vegan. I get it. I do. But I’m here to tell you, vegan ice cream is great. Fantastic even. It’s not the same as dairy ice cream, and I won’t pretend that it tastes the same. (Although sometimes it comes so close it’s hard to tell.) I always appreciate a challenge, and I decided I wanted to try to make a vegan ice cream that was also sweetened without sugar. Even crazier, right? Well, this one might change your mind about that!
When I make vegan ice cream, I typically use full fat coconut milk because it more closely mimics heavy cream. It is still a little icier than dairy ice cream, but it provides the rich mouthfeel that makes ice cream so wonderful. Fat really does equal flavor. And I tell people not to bother making low fat ice cream because frankly, it’s not really worth it. You need the fat for the flavor. Bottom line. (No pun intended.)
Up until a little while ago, I would have said there was no way to make vegan ice cream without sugar. Sugar is an essential part to the enjoyment of ice cream like fat is. As someone who is no stranger to making homemade ice cream, I wondered if naturally sweetening this one with dates would be as satisfying. Maybe my palate has changed a lot over the past few years, or maybe it’s something else, I actually liked this better! I couldn’t believe it. I have always had a major sweet tooth, but I’m finding when I cut out sugar, especially refined sugars, I can taste the real flavor of food and the food itself is sweet enough. It turns out dates do a splendid job. Yes, they are still sticky and plenty sweet, but I feel much better eating the equivalent of one date in a scoop of ice cream than a full tablespoon of granulated sugar (or thereabouts.) Look at me telling my sweet tooth who’s boss!
Sigh. This ice cream is simply lovely. I keep finding myself going to the kitchen, pulling out a clean spoon, and heading in the direction of the freezer…just for another little taste. And then another tiny one…or two. Want to hear something crazy? Even my kids like this ice cream. My work here is done.
Fresh peach season has arrived in Boise. We’ve been grilling like crazy. The other night I didn’t want the residual heat to go to waste (we always add too much charcoal!) and decided to throw some peaches on the barbie. I love what grilling does for fruit. I love grilling anyway, but that smoky flavor with the sweet is perfect. Then I gilded the lily a bit by adding some embellishments in the form of chopped dry roasted pistachios, dried rose petals, a few drops of rose water, and the littlest drizzle of pomegranate molasses. It was glorious and I can’t wait to make this over and over again for the rest of the summer. All of those flavors together was truly, utterly incredible. Mind blowing. You just have to try it. You do. Trust me, friends.
- For ice cream:
- 2 (14 ounce) cans full fat coconut milk or cream
- ½ cup soft pitted dates, preferably Medjool
- 2 Tablespoons raw almond butter
- 1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract, optional
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- For grilled peaches:
- One peach per person, pitted
- Optional garnishes for serving - pomegranate molasses, rose water, dried organic rose petals, chopped pistachios
- For ice cream - place 1 can coconut milk, dates, almond butter, vanilla, and sea salt into the jar of a blender. Puree until very smooth. Add the other can and pulse a few times until combined. Place in fridge to chill for 15-20 minutes. It shouldn't be ice cold because the coconut fat will rise to the surface. You want to churn it when it's just slightly chilled.
- Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Transfer to an airtight container. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1 quart.
- For grilled peaches - place the peaches cut side down on a hot grill. Let cook 5 minutes then turn over and let cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.
- To serve - place peach halves on a dessert place and top with a scoop of the ice cream. Garnish, if desired.