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! 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 (I know, I know) that homemade would taste similar. I should have known better. What is so fantastic about this ice cream is that it is smooth, rich, creamy, crunchy, and wholesome (minus the sugar!). The other bonus is that it makes a small batch, perfect or two to four (depending on scoop size). This recipe does call 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 (and often!). Rob, a very skeptical eater, eats everything I make, even if he initially turns his nose up. He often likes regular stuff; his description. I’m not sure I know what regular is after all these years of marriage, 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 with 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 little machine. I usually make this ice cream over a two day period. I make 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 the 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… 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 I use 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 is my favorite ice cream. Well, really, anything dark chocolate is my favorite. It’s just hard to beat. Not that there aren’t plenty of other flavors out there that make me shake my grove thing. I am curious to know, what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
- 1 C Raw Cashews, soaked in water overnight and rinsed
- ⅔ C Water
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ¼ C Maple Syrup (2 oz)
- 1½ C Cashew Cream (12⅛ oz)
- ½ C Almond Milk, unsweetened (4 oz)
- ¼ C Granulated Sugar, ground (1¾ oz)
- 2 Tbs Maple Syrup
- 2½ Tbs Dutch Cocoa Powder
- ¼ tsp Arrowroot
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1½ tsp Espresso Powder or Strong Espresso (optional)
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- ⅛ C Cocoa Nibs (1/2 oz)
- Mint Leaves for Garnish (Optional)
- Place 1 C of soaked and rinsed cashews into a high-speed blender like this one. Add the water, vanilla extract and maple syrup to the cashews. 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. This will yield 1½ C of cashew cream, the exact amount you'll need for the ice cream.
- Place the sugar in a food processor and grind until fine. It will get dusty so hold your hand over the opening of food processor while processing. Process for about 30-45 seconds. You want fine grains of sugar, but not powder. I use organic sugar and the crystals are large, this is why I grind my sugar down. It will help make your ice cream extra creamy. Set aside.
- To the cashew cream in the high speed blender, add the almond milk, ground sugar, maple syrup, cocoa powder, arrowroot, vanilla extract, espresso powder and sea salt. Process on med-high for 30-45 seconds, or until smooth.
- Pour into a container, cover and chill in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
- Now is a good time to put your ice cream maker freezer bowl into the freezer.
- When you are ready to churn the ice cream, place the container 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.
- Churn the ice cream according to the manufacture's instructions (I churned mine for 30 min on low).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enjoy within a week.
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.
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