For our wedding registry, we were pretty practical. We had just purchased a house and did our best to keep it to the items we really really needed. (OK, he kept me from going overboard on all the kitchen things.) But afterwards, we decided to buy ourselves something totally fun and frivolous: an ice cream maker.
Guys, it was 1000% worth it. I’m obsessed. In heaven. Dairy-free unprocessed ice cream heaven. There are fluffy ice cream clouds all around me all the time.
Even before I really started developing allergies several years ago, I could tell that ice cream didn’t agree with me, which is SO sad because it’s probably one of my favourite foods. Something about the cold heavy cream and all that sugar makes me instantly congested. And for anyone with lactose intolerance, ice cream is a surefire trigger for a night of indigestion. Who knows what I’m talking about?
I have been trying so many different combinations to get the perfectly creamy ice cream, which is no small feat when you’re avoiding dairy, eggs, refined sugars and more. It can turn into a solid block that takes 20-plus minutes to thaw. A lot of ice creams use egg yolks or gelatin to ensure a creamy scoopable texture, but once you’re making a dairy-free dessert, why not go vegan and make all your friends happy, right?
There are a few key elements to this recipe:
- A caramel-y date paste because, for whatever reason, dates don’t freeze.
- A baked sweet potato; I used the white ones with the purple skin, which are often called Japanese sweet potatoes, but I’ve seen other names, too. The starchiness seems to keep things a little more pudding-like and creamy than straight-up coconut milk. I haven’t tried other kinds, but please let me know if you do.
- Coconut cream i.e. the highest-fat coconut milk you can find in the can. The one I use has 130 calories per ¼ cup serving, but because you’re mixing it with sweet potato, there’s a nice balance that keeps it from tasting overly rich.
This ice cream flavour is ideal for northern summers—i.e. a mix of hot days with cool rainy ones that require some extra warmth (hey, Toronto!)—because it’s ice cream, which is always great for summer, but the gingerbread flavour is still very cozy and comforting on a chilly night. I really love this ginger; it has a nice deep flavour and just enough zing.
If you’re like my husband (or maybe you have picky ones at home) and prefer a more classic ice cream flavours, this can be easily tweaked to satisfy the basic need for chocolate. Simply leave out the spices and blend in ⅓ cup cocoa or cacao powder. For double chocolate—because obviously—add in a handful of cacao nibs or chocolate chips in the last few minutes of churning.
Note that this recipe makes 4-5 servings; for a crowd, you can double up and it will still fit in your at-home ice cream maker. I use this one (and it’s on sale right now!).
Gingerbread ice cream
- Soak the dates for 10 minutes in hot water.
- Drain the dates (you don’t need to squeeze the water out; a little is OK) and combine with a bit of the liquid from the coconut cream can in a high speed blender. Blend until it becomes a caramel-like sauce. You will likely need to scrape down the sides once or twice.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours to cool it down.
- Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to your machine’s instructions.
- Spread into a chilled metal loaf pan (put it in the freezer while you’re churning the ice cream) with a rubber spatula and freeze 4 hours before serving.
- Top with molasses and/or your favourite summer fruit; I recommend peaches!