Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {vegan}

It’s beginning to feel like summer around here.  We’ve finally had a few hot days and by hot I mean, peaking at around 72.5 degrees! I decided it was time for some ice cream, since after all, ice cream is best on a hot day! This Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib is a delightful way to cool off!  
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com Before I started making this recipe, I had never made non dairy and egg free ice cream. It’s not that I didn’t want to try it, it’s just that when I had store bought, I just didn’t like how it tasted.  So I assumed homemade would taste similar. I should have known better.

What’s so fantastic about this ice cream is that it is rich, creamy, crunchy, and wholesome, save the sugar.  The other bonus is that it makes a small batch, perfect for two to four, depending on scoop size. This recipe calls for an ice cream maker, so if you have one, great!  If not, read on and either borrow one or put one on your list. Mine is borrowed, often.

  Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com Rob, a very skeptical eater, eats everything I make, even if he initially turns his nose up. He often likes regular stuff; his word. I’m not sure I know what regular is after all these years, but even he likes this ice cream, and by all accounts, it’s not regular.  The only thing he took exception with was the cocoa nibs. He’s a texture guy, and wasn’t thrilled about all those little crunchy inclusions in his ice cream.  I ended up decreasing the nibs to 1/8 C, but if you want more, you should have them. I’ve added up to 1/4 C and it worked fine. I love the added crunch!

I am delighted by how smooth and creamy this ice cream is, despite my homemade almond milk being made without a nut bag; this yields a not so perfectly smooth nut milk. Although I was a little apprehensive at first about using the almond milk in this state, it works, and somehow, all the ingredients transform in this machine.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com I usually make this ice cream over a two-day period, making the cashew cream and base on day one, chill overnight and churn the next morning. It only takes 30 minutes to churn the ice cream, but then requires at least an hour or two in the freezer post churn, so plan accordingly.

I was hoping to put this delicious cream in waffle cones, but I couldn’t find anyone with a waffle cone iron to borrow from and I didn’t want to buy one as my cottage sized kitchen will not hold any more plug-ins.  So off to the store I went. After looking at multiple boxed options, I decided against all of them. Not surprising, there were all kinds of preservatives and palm oil in the ingredients. Palm oil is an automatic deal breaker for me. I did start thinking about tuiles, however…

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {Vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com To this recipe, I’ve added espresso powder simply because coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate. If espresso powder is not on hand or available, you can use espresso or strong coffee. If you prefer to leave the coffee flavor out, your ice cream will still taste delicious.

Arrowroot, an ingredient in this recipe, is a plant-based thickening agent. It comes from the root-stock of several different types of tropical plants. It’s a perfect partner for ice cream because it inhibits ice crystal formation and while we want some ice crystal formation, we don’t want too much or the mouth feel is off. I buy arrowroot from my local Co-Op in the bulk section in small portions because a little goes a long way. Bob’s Red Mill sells arrowroot in a larger quantity, which can be found here.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {Vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com

Dark chocolate is my favorite ice cream. Well, really, anything dark chocolate is my favorite. Not that there aren’t plenty of other flavors out there that make me shake my grove thing.

I am curious to know, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

5.0 from 2 reviews
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {vegan}
Prep time
Total time
A creamy, rich, decadent ice cream awaits! Perfect for anyone who loves ice cream!
Serves: 4
  • 1 C Raw Cashews, soaked in water overnight or in very hot water for one hour and rinsed
  • ⅔ C Water
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ C + 2 Tbs Maple Syrup (3 oz)
  • ½ C Almond Milk, unsweetened (4 oz)
  • ¼ C Granulated Sugar, ground (1¾ oz)
  • 2½ Tbs Dutch Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ tsp Arrowroot
  • 1½ tsp Espresso Powder or Strong Espresso (optional)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • ⅛ C Cocoa Nibs (1/2 oz)
  • Mint Leaves for Garnish (Optional)
Day One
  1. Place cashews, water, extract, maple syrup, almond milk, sugar, cocoa, arrowroot, espresso and sea salt into a high-speed blender like this one. Blend for 1 minute on med-high speed. Scrape down the inside of the pitcher and blend for 30 more seconds on med-high speed.
  2. Pour into a container, cover and chill in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. This helps develop flavor.
  3. Now is a good time to put your ice cream maker freezer bowl into the freezer.
Day Two
To Churn the Ice Cream
  1. When you are ready to churn the ice cream, place the container (I use a loaf pan) you'll be storing the ice cream in in the freezer so it's nice and chilled when you transfer the ice cream from the machine. Line the container with parchment paper and clip the sides as to hold them in place (optional).
  2. Churn the ice cream according to the manufacture's instructions (I churned mine for 30 min on low).
  3. Add the cocoa nibs to the ice cream during the last few minutes of the churn. The goal is to evenly distribute the nibs throughout the ice cream.
  4. Transfer the ice cream to the storage container, place parchment or plastic wrap right on the surface of the ice cream (this will prevent ice crystals from forming) and cover tightly. Freeze for at least an hour to an hour and a half in the covered container.
  5. When you're ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let set at room temperature for at least 5 minutes. This will allow it to become a bit softer and ready for scooping.
  6. Enjoy within a week.
Arrowroot can be found in bulk at your local Co-Op or 'health food store.' It can also be found at Amazon.com from Bob's Red Mill.

Recipe adapted from Vegan Chocolate.

Total time above does not include the time it takes to churn and freeze the ice cream. Churning and freezing is dependent on individual ice cream maker and freezer temperature.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib {Vegan} | VanillaAndBean.com

If you make this recipe, or any others on Vanilla And Bean, be sure to post it toInstagram and tag #VanillaAndBean!  I’d love to see what you’ve made!  Also, if you like my content, please consider sharing it with three friends and/or family.  Thank you!



  1. says

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  2. says

    Hi Traci!
    This is my first visit to Vanilla and Bean. Your site is very elegant and the recipes look delightful. I would be honored if I could have your permission to repost part of the recipe with a link back to Vanilla and Bean. I look forward to reading more of your posts and drooling over the amazing food you’ve created.
    Pepper Culpepper

  3. says

    So I made this little gem yesterday and I absolutely loved it! The only thing I did different was instead of arrowroot powder I used guar gum powder and I put the sugar in the blender with all the other ingredients instead of using the food processor. But I have a Vitamix blender that pretty much pulverizes anything so it worked out very well.

    Oh and I also didn’t have that cocoa powder so I use raw cacao powder instead. Was the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life and I love the fact that it’s vegan especially since I can’t have eggs.


    • Traci says

      WooT Woot, Amber! This is great news! Finally, an ice cream you can enjoy. Thanks for the tip on the sugar and vita mix. That saves a step for sure!

      • says

        I ate another bowl tonight. Wow I’m just amazed I made this and it’s so yummy. Super simple recipe and just the best chocolate ice cream ever!

        • Traci says

          SO glad you’re enjoying the deliciousness! I’m working on another vegan ice cream recipe (you’re going to love this one too!) so my freezer is full, but that doesn’t mean I’m not craving THE dark chocolate ice cream! It is just simply so good!

  4. says

    I’m a fan of ANY flavor of ice cream, though I am partial to dark chocolate and strawberry, if I’ve got the choice. 😉

    This looks and sounds absolutely DELICIOUS, and I love that you made a cashew cream for the ice cream base… and made this dairy free! Definitely something I’m going to try soon once I get my hands on an ice cream maker.

    • Traci says

      Hi Erin! Hummm… dark chocolate and strawberry?! You’ve got me thinking about another go with my ice cream machine! I hope you get your hands on a machine soon… perhaps I’ll see a post soon on The Speckled Palate of your favorite?!

  5. says

    I’m starting this recipe tonight and finishing up tomorrow!!! I can’t wait to taste. I have all the ingredients except espresso powder. Do you think it will taste much different without it? What about finely ground espresso beans ? Wouldn’t that be a substitute for espresso powder? OMG…just looks amazing and your pics are beautiful lady!

    • Traci says

      Hi Am! Ooooh I’m so excited you’re making this! The ice cream will taste different without an espresso addition, but it will still taste delicious. There is some debate regarding the use of finely ground coffee beans vs espresso powder. The Kitchn has a short read on it http://www.thekitchn.com/dont-have-espresso-powder-try-134785. Just brew some espresso and use that. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of time watching used ground espresso dry up while you’re dreaming about your ice cream! Can’t wait to hear how it turns out! WooT!

    • Traci says

      Thanks Thalia! Oh yeah, the cocoa nibs. They just really add a deeper dimension of richness to this ice cream! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. Michelle Moran says

    Is there anything I can use to replace the cashew cream? My son is allergic to many nuts, including cashews; except for almonds. How about coconut cream? I just bought some coconut cream from Teopical Traditions. This recipe looks fantastic. I would love to make it!

  7. says

    Traci – your photos are gorgeous – especially the shots of the ice-cream in the glasses with the mint – really great shot! I don’t have an ice-cream maker and never thought of borrow one – great idea – will ask my work buddy if I can borrow his. Adding this to my list of must try recipes! Pinning as well.

    • Traci says

      Aaw, thank you Geraldine! Ice cream is not a very cooperative subject when attempting to photograph it, but it sure is a tasty treat in the end! I hope you can borrow that ice cream maker. I usually pay for my borrow in ice cream – the owner is a willing participant!

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