About seven years ago, I had to cut dairy and gluten out of my diet for a number of reasons.
Unfortunately, this was right around the time when I discovered how much I loved baking, so I started to experiment with gluten-free and dairy-free baking (I even had my own baking business for a while). While I could have viewed this dietary shift as a “loss,” I instead turned it into a baking adventure. I made vegan truffles, raw pies, almond flour-based cakes and muffins (all recipes I intend to share, by the way).
But I had not yet made ice cream. Until today.
Because summertime means ice cream time.
I just tested out my new KitchenAid ice cream maker for the first time since last November when I received it as a birthday gift from my mother. This glorious ice cream maker had remained unopened in its box all this time! The heat of summer and my recent impetus to exercise daily motivated me to finally open the box, read the instructions and put the mixing bowl in the freezer as directed for the requisite 15 hours before making the ice cream.
The next part was mouth-wateringly fun and exciting—reading my dairy-free ice cream recipe book for options. Rocky road. Chai. Chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. White chocolate goji berry. Blueberry lavender. Swiss almond. And of course—good old fashioned vanilla. This has been the best experiment in “baking” I have had in a long, long time.
For my first ice cream, I started with the basics. There are so many incredible and more complicated recipes as mentioned above, but for my first try, I thought I’d keep it simple. I made an incredible dairy-free (actually, vegan!) chocolate ice cream (using coconut milk) with the intention of feeding it to my boyfriend who named chocolate as his favorite flavor. I will give him some this weekend, but I do confess to already having eaten two amazing bowls of this incredible substance immediately after making it. In fact, I stopped the mixer five minutes earlier than planned and just got right in there, eating straight out of the still frosty mixing bowl.
And—of course, I had to lick the beater.
While I did follow a recipe out of an amazing dairy-free ice cream recipe book, like all good chefs, I had to improvise and make some variations (admittedly because I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed, but like most experiments of this nature, it turned out great, and this can often serve as inspiration for experimenting). So, I will share with you here what I wound up putting into this miraculous alchemical concoction of melty-cold crystalline chocolatey goodness:
- 13.5 oz full-fat coconut milk
- 5 Medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 oz coconut milk mixed with 4 oz water
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
Step one: Buy an ice cream machine.
Step two: Read all of the instructions on the ice cream maker before getting started—each kind is different. I thought I could get started right away and then realized I had to freeze the mixing bowl for 15 hours—that was a long wait indeed!
Step three: Make sure you have all of the ingredients at home—or, be ready to experiment with what you have and just have fun with it!
Step four: Blend the coconut milk and dates in the blender until smooth.
Step five: Add the other ingredients one at a time with the blender running.
Step six: Freeze your ice cream mixture for about an hour just to get it cooled down and congealing.
Step seven: Get your ice cream maker running and pour your ice cream liquid into the bowl. If you have a different type of ice cream maker than me, there may be a different way to do this step, so consult “step two” above and be sure to read the instructions on your ice cream maker!
My mixer suggested 20-30 minutes for the ice cream making time. I set my timer to 25 minutes, but as I mentioned earlier, I only made it to about 20 minutes—I couldn’t stand the wait any longer, and the amazing chocolate ice cream looked (and tasted!) perfect to me. Use your best and tastiest judgment and see what happens.
Even better than ice cream (well, maybe equally good)—this first experiment with making ice cream has also led to my first food blog (which you are reading right now), which I have been intending to do for years. And it’s about time!
You’ve gotta love starting the summer day with a morning hike and finishing it off with some amazing homemade dairy-free chocolate ice cream.
So, thank you ice-cream maker—you are my hero—and currently my greatest motivator to date.
Author: Rachel Leber
Photo: Author’s Own
Editor: Renée Picard / Apprentice editor: CC Trigos