It’s almost summer here… okay, not really. It’s been raining day in and out and I need a little somethin, somethin that makes me feel like it’s almost summer in Denver. Nothing does that quite as well as ice cream. The thing is, the gluten free, dairy free ice cream at the store is just too darn expensive and even the healthy coconut ice cream at the store still includes ingredients like agave and preservatives that I would rather avoid. The thing is, I want to devour the ice cream, I want it dripping from my chin, I want to practically swim in it and you can’t do that with a little pint carton and you shouldn’t do it with some of the ingredients they add.
That said, I have a secret. A secret that every dairy free, egg free, gluten free food lover should know…. A secret that will make satiating your ice cream needs a snap.
It’s called coconut milk. I’ve made ice cream with just about every nut you can think of and almond milk and cashew milk makes some pretty darn good ice cream, but benefit from adding a thickener like agar agar or kudzu. However, coconut milk gives you that creamy mouth feel that you get from dairy cream, without requiring the thickeners or cooking it. It’s the perfect fat consistency to make perfect ice cream every time–fast, easy and with minimal ingredients.
Yep, I said it. Every time. There is no messing up coconut milk ice cream or if there is it’s a difficult thing to do!
To make your life blissfully easy and decadently rich, get yourself an ice cream maker. I have three: two are Rivals and one is a Krups. And I think each of them cost me about $5 from the thrift store. It appears that making your own ice cream has gone out of style–too much work I guess–silly, fast food, lazy Americans! Just like bread makers, the shelves of thrift stores are filled with them. One of the Rivals is one that you add rock salt to the outside of, which requires a bit more preparation; whereas, the other two have built in liquid that freezes when stored in the freezer. The rock salt one can be stored anywhere; whereas the other two need to be stored in the freezer to be ready for your spur-of-the-moment, midnight ice cream cravings.
Oh, and be forewarned, if you don’t have those spur-of-the-moment cravings now, you will soon, when you learn how easy it is to enjoy delicious ice cream. And just like tattoos, you will find that one just isn’t enough, because what if you want a variety of ice cream flavors? All at once? Well, sweet searching souls, you stock up on your ice cream makers, of course. What’s that song… “31 flavors and then some.”
I don’t measure when I cook, so this is purely an estimate… Use your intuition and play…. Like I said, you aren’t going to mess it up… It’s just that simple to make.
You’ll need for chocolate strawberry ice cream:
An ice cream maker with a frozen canister is the easiest option*
1 pint of strawberries (washed with tops cut out) (1/3 of strawberries diced)****
1 can cold coconut milk**
1/2 cup local, raw honey or coconut syrup or maple syrup***
1 dropperful of stevia***
1 TB vanilla extract
1/2 baking bar or to taste of unsweetened dark chocolate chopped fine****
1 tsp sea salt
Pour the cold coconut milk into the blender. Your ice cream will freeze much faster if you use COLD coconut milk (just keep some in the fridge for these occasions). Add the honey, stevia, vanilla, sea salt, and 2/3 of strawberries. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and frothy with a nice pink tint.
Taste. Adjust sweetness, salt and vanilla to taste. Be aware that freezing the mixture will make it taste LESS sweet, so if it tastes just the right amount of sweetness, you might want to add more to accommodate for the freezing.
Stir in diced strawberries and chocolate. Pour into the frozen ice cream canister and start your machine. Churn until it becomes the consistency of frozen custard.
Serve immediately or freeze to firm up more. Store the remaining ice cream in freezer containers. Soften slightly before serving for best flavor and texture. It often works best to pull it out of the freezer (when it isn’t freshly made anymore) and put it in a food processor to get to the perfect smooth consistency again.
* If you don’t have an ice cream maker just blend as directed and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. When ready to serve, blend the ice cream ice cubes in a food processor until smooth. The texture isn’t as nice and it’s more work, but an ice cream deprived girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do!
** The fuller fat the coconut milk, the creamier your ice cream will be. Lower fat coconut milks like So Delicious make an icier, more sherbet style dessert. I prefer full fat organic coconut milk that you buy in a can (try Native Forest or Thai Kitchen), but I’m a lover of healthy fats! You can also make a raw ice cream with the flesh of baby coconut, which is divine.
***I try to keep all of my desserts low glycemic. I often use stevia in a combination with another sweetener, as in this recipe, so that stevia acts as a booster to make the dessert taste more sweet without adding to the glycemic load and utilizing the other sweetener to prevent a bitter aftertaste that sometimes stevia imparts. I’ve even done two dropperfuls of stevia and no other sweetener and depending on the other flavors in the ice cream, that can taste perfect (works great with unsweetened cocoa powder). If you prefer to not use stevia, just use your sweetener of choice, double it, and taste test before freezing.
****Please don’t stop at chocolate strawberry as a flavor. Instead you could melt the chocolate and pour it into the ice cream maker as it’s running so you have ribbons of melted chocolate. Or you could do a straight chocolate ice cream by blending cocoa powder or carob powder in the blender with your coconut milk. You could replace the strawberries with any seasonal fruit. You can add spices (my favorites are cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and even wasabi). My favorite flavor right now is lavender-peach coconut ice cream. Unless you have an allergy to it, always add plenty of vanilla extract, but you can also add in other extracts for flavor, like hazelnut, coffee, peppermint, orange, etc. Really there is a limitless possibility for all of the ice creams you could make. Go see what’s in season at your farmers’ market or play with savory flavors. And if you get bored of coconut milk (wierdo), than use another nut or seed milk as the base instead. See… that’s why I need more than just three ice cream makers. There are just too many fabulous options to limit myself to one at a time!
As I peer outside through the rain soaked streets of Denver, I know summer is on the way… I can taste it! Please share your favorite ice cream flavor to help inspire others to unleash their inner ice cream genius.
If you are interested in learning to cook without recipes and honing your creativity in the kitchen, please join me in Denver for one or more of my cooking classes.