I know I have mentioned this on the blog before, but I will say it again. I was a strange kid. Or at least, I had strange taste buds. For a kid. Looking back, I like to think my non-kid friendly eating habits were a reflection of a more sophisticated palate. I loved chocolate, but as far as things kids are “supposed” to like, that was about it. I didn’t like ketchup, mayonnaise, most sugary cereals, pretty much any candy that wasn’t chocolate, cotton candy, un-cooked marshmallows, cold pizza, McDonald’s cheeseburgers (#chickennuggest4life) or Peeps. I did not like Peeps. Unfortunately for my waistline, as an adult I developed a taste for most of these things. I still am not overly fond of any mayonnaise based salad (should it really be called a salad if it contains mayonnaise?), but I will eat mayonnaise on a sandwich, if it comes that way. I would never seek out most ketchups, but Trader Joe’s ketchup is a different food all together. It is delicious and I could eat in on basically anything. And I’m not really sure what I was thinking on the cereal front because kid cereals are incredible! Although I would never in a million years let a kid actually eat that for breakfast-said the person who has no human children. (Remind me I said that in 5-10 years!). Read more
In case you haven’t been following along, this is installment number 3 in my Best Dairy Free Ice Cream Series. So far we have tried ice cream made with almond milk and coconut milk. This week we’re using cashews.
Let me start this post by saying I DO NOT HAVE A VITAMIX! Oh-the horror! It is on my 10-mile long wedding registry, but I am not holding my breath waiting for one of my beloved friends or relatives to show up at our wedding with a $500 gift. After our wedding, I will have to decide if I want to shell out for one. On the one hand, I do make smoothies almost daily. But, on the other hand, my Nutri-Bullet is still going strong and doesn’t cost much to replace. I don’t really have a lot of other blending needs, but maybe the Vitamix will be like my Kitchenaid mixer-once I got one, I found uses for it almost daily. Tell me readers, do I need a Vitamix?
Well, you definitely need a Vitamix for this recipe. You may possibly be able to get by with an actual food processor-I don’t have one of those either. Instead I rely on the food processor attachment to my immersion blender, which has failed me before and on this recipe failed me again.
So before I get to the review and recipe, let me explain what I previously alluded to: This ice cream was chunky. As in, the cashews did not fully blend so the texture was overall gritty and occasionally you might eat a whole cashew. Secondly, I did not add my beloved gelatin at exactly the right time, which resulted in additional (more gross-tasting) chunks. Now, given all those issues, I was amazed with how the recipe came out. Read on:
Mouthfeel (does it feel like ice cream in your mouth?): without the chunks, this is a 5/5; with the chunks more like a 3/5
Ice Cream Taste (how much does it taste like “real” ice cream): 4/5
Overall Taste: 4/5
Would you eat it again? Yes, even with the chunks, it was that good.
Would it pass as real ice cream? Without chunks, yes.
The taste tester proclaimed this was by far the best of all the dairy free options and tasted the most like real ice cream. In spite of the chunks, we still finished the entire batch. However, the chunks really prevent this from achieving “real ice cream” status and I would never feel comfortable serving this to other people.
If you have a Vitamix or great food processor, this is probably the recipe for you. If not, maybe try one of the others.
- 1 1/2 cups cashews plus water to cover
- 2 1/2 cups almond milk (Califia recommended, I find it to be extra-creamy)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 T coconut oil
- 1 T gelatin
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 1 T brandy (or other liquor, or omit)
- Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or all day while you are at work.
- When ready to prepare your ice cream, heat almond milk, sugar, and coconut oil in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat, stir in gelatin until dissolved. If it won't dissolve, heat it back up for a few minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and brandy.
- Place all ingredients, including the (drained) cashews, in a blender. You probably want to put the cashews in first.
- Blend until everything is very, very, very smooth. For extra smooth ice cream, run everything through a fine mesh strainer (NOTE: I did this and still had chunks!)
- Process according to your ice cream maker's directions.
Second in the search for the best dairy-free ice cream, I tried a coconut milk based recipe inspired by Heartbeet Kitchen. For the sake of science, I decided to keep all these recipes plan vanilla, but her salty honey version looks divine and I will be trying it after I crown a winner!
The best part about this recipe? No eggs!! This recipe gets plenty of fat from the coconut milk, so no need for those pesky egg yolks. Egg-free recipes not only make your ice cream vegan in addition to dairy free, but they are all around much simpler. If you are new to the homemade ice cream game, I would definitely recommend starting with an egg free recipe, there are plenty out there. The eggs are what really complicate things and make for a lot of additional cooking/stirring/prepping.
This recipe comes together in a snap and, once again, I was quite pleasantly surprised!
Mouthfeel: 3/5, not as creamy as the almond milk version, but definitely the texture of real ice cream
Taste (like ice cream): 4/5, a slight coconut flavor, but it definitely captures the texture and flavor of regular dairy ice cream
Taste (overall): 3/5, I just liked the other version better, not for any particular reason
Would you eat this again? Yes, definitely. I honestly can’t believe how many delicious dairy-free ice cream recipes are out there and I definitely want to try the salted honey version that inspired this recipe!
The Taste Tester (and his friend):
The Taste Tester happened to have a friend over watching the hockey game, so I actually had two taste testers for this one!
Both liked it very much and the taste tester ate the entire bowl, which was supposed to be for us to share. I wanted to get opinions without telling our friend that it was made from coconut milk, but the taste tester blew the lid off that one. Neither of them felt it tasted overly coconut-y, although when we ate it a few days later the taste tester reported that he thought the coconut flavor was stronger after a few days in the freezer. The taste tester also claimed he tasted whey protein powder (which to him is a good taste, somehow), but I did not get this flavor at all. I am guessing it was the vanilla that prompted this response. Maybe?
Originally, the taste tester liked this one better than last week’s almond milk ice cream, but during the second tasting (a few days later), picked the almond milk as the better flavor. If anything, I think this shows how close the two are in flavor and texture.
- 1 T. gelatin
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 1/2 t. vanilla
- 1 T. vodka
- Combine gelatin with 1/4 cup coconut milk in a small bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining coconut milk and sugar until bowling.
- Add milk/gelatin mixture, boil for 1.5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add vanilla and vodka.
- Chill and churn according to your ice cream maker's directions.