Tuesday, September 20, 2011

vegan strawberry chocolate chip ice cream

Dessert in the Desert

Ever since the start of this year's summer fruit season, I'd been waiting impatiently for an opportunity to try a delicious-sounding recipe for vegan strawberry sherbet I'd seen on the blog Gluten-Free Goddess. However, I didn't actually get the time to experiment with it until much closer to the end of the summer. My expectations were high, but unfortunately the sherbet turned out to be disappointing. The vanilla flavor of the store-bought hemp milk I used was a bit off, I don't love the taste of agave syrup, and my ice cream maker was not cold enough to freeze the concoction in the Las Vegas summer heat. All of this resulted in a funny-tasting, strangely-textured dessert in which the strawberry slices and chocolate chips sunk to the bottom. I started to brainstorm ways to improve it and came up with this creamier version. If you're still able to find some fresh strawberries at the supermarket, this recipe is definitely worth a try.

1 pound organic strawberries
3 T. lime juice
3 T. raw honey
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (Make your own! Here's how.)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup cane sugar (a little less is okay too)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chunks

Wash and slice your strawberries, then combine them in a bowl with the lime juice and raw honey. Stirring occasionally, allow the berries to macerate over the span of a few hours in the refrigerator.
In a saucepan, combine your almond milk and sugar. Warm over medium heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add your coconut milk and vanilla extract, stir to combine, then store covered in the fridge for several hours until very cold.
Once your strawberries have had time to break down and gain a syrupy texture, transfer them to your blender and puree until smooth. Store the pureed strawberries in the fridge until you are ready to make the ice cream.
Combine the strawberry puree and the milk mixture. Pour the ingredients into your machine and allow it to work its magic. Add the chocolate chunks when the ice cream starts to solidify, just a few minutes before the churning is complete.

Helpful Hints:
1. You don't have to make your own almond milk. Homemade almond milk is vastly better tasting, but also more time consuming (yet not as difficult as you might think!). Check out our previous post for instructions.
2. Although it sounds like a nice idea, I find that leaving the strawberries in slices makes them get in the way of the ice cream maker's inner workings, and they also detract from your ice cream enjoyment because they freeze as little icy chunks. This is why I suggest the puree method.
3. Put your can of coconut milk in the fridge in advance so it will already be cold, to cut down on your waiting time.
4. WholeFoods sells miniature dark chocolate chunks that are perfect for this use. You can also chop up a chocolate bar instead, or just use regular semi-sweet chips.
5. If it's 110 degrees in the desert summer heat and 84 in your kitchen, your ice cream may have trouble freezing (just hypothetically speaking, of course...). My recommendation: Set your freezer to a few degrees colder than usual while you're freezing your ice cream maker canister (-2 Celsius / 28.5 Fahrenheit). Make sure your ingredients are ice cold and work quickly once they're out of the fridge.
6. Don't have an ice cream maker? It's not as extravagant as it might sound. Bed Bath & Beyond sells a simple Cuisinart model for $59, and if you use one of those ubiquitous 20% off coupons they're always sending in the mail (which NEVER expire, by the way, despite the date marked on the bottom), that's $47. Amazon sells them for $49 with free shipping.