There’s nothing better than homemade ice cream. It’s not only the tastiest thing you could make at home, the fact that you are making the ice cream at home means that you have control over the amount of sugar you can add.
You can also leave sugar out of the recipe completely, and you get to use actual vegan ingredients. But what’s the deal with vegan ice cream? Is it as tasty as dairy ice cream? What makes vegan ice cream?
Vegan ice cream refers to the ice cream that’s made without dairy products. However, the absence of dairy doesn’t make the non-dairy ice cream less tasty, with some of the vegan ice creams being tastier than the non-vegan ice cream.
Wondering how? Well, it all has to do with the ingredients used – in this case, coconut milk, creamy, full-fat creamy coconut milk, to be specific.
While you could make vegan ice cream using soy milk or almond milk, the full-fat coconut milk option tastes better than the others, as it bursts with creaminess and the best texture.
So, regardless of what your diet is made of, you want to stick to the full-fat version of coconut milk to make the best vegan ice cream.
Using the coconut milk as your base, you can add any other flavors and ingredients to make the ice cream that matches your palate. For example, you could add bananas, peanut butter, cookies, berries, or chocolates.
Is Vegan Ice Cream Healthy?
Before we look at how to make the perfect vegan ice cream, is vegan ice cream healthy?
Well, the truth is that vegan ice cream is, for the most part, regarded as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream. The primary reason for this is that vegan ice cream recipes tend to use healthier sugar substitutes like coconut sugar and maple syrup.
But even with the healthier ingredients, you need to remember that the vegan ice cream, just like the dairy ice cream is a sweet treat that should be enjoyed in moderation.
Ice cream is still dessert, regardless of the number of ingredients or the kind of ingredients in it, and that means that you cannot overindulge and not expect effects.
Is it all gloom in ice cream town? No. You could make a nice and healthy breakfast cream with frozen bananas.
So, there’s that! Keep in mind that if you are looking for healthier ice cream options that are vegan-friendly, you’d want to look out for the recipes that use frozen bananas or sorbets made of real fruits, as the base.
Making Vegan Ice Cream
The truth is that there are many ways of making vegan ice cream. Some recipes call for the use of an ice cream maker; others don’t.
However, here’s a general recipe for making vegan ice cream:
Use the right base. In this case, the right base is creamy, full-fat coconut milk. Pour the coconut milk in the ice cream maker.
But without an ice cream maker, you can still make good ice cream. All you need to do is to blend all your ingredients in a powerful, high-speed blender. After blending, transfer your blended mixture to a loaf pan and then freeze your mixture.
Note that you can make your ice cream creamier by stirring it in the freezer every 20 minutes. Without the occasional stirring, your ice cream could turn out icy and crunchy due to ice crystallization.
That said, here’s a simple vegan ice cream recipe you could use.
Vegan Ice Cream Recipe (Serves 6-8)
2 cans of full-fat coconut milk
¼ teaspoon salt
½ sweetener (agave syrup, cane sugar, maple syrup, or turbinado sugar)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or 1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch)
5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Mix-ins – chocolate chips, nuts, fruit puree, or cacao nibs
Glass/ plastic dish to cool the base
Ice cream machine
Freezer container like a pint container or a loaf pan
Parchment/ wax paper
First, freeze your ice cream machine’s bowl for at least 24 hours; keep it in the freezer for it to freeze. Now take that the bowl is frozen, you can tell its frozen if there is no liquid sloshing inside when you shake the bowl.
Now, take your coconut milk and shake it. Shaking the cans of coconut milk should bring together/ incorporate the layers of your coconut milk since the milk separates into a thick and a creamy layer with a thin watery layer when sitting on the shelf.
Therefore, shaking is important before you open the cans.
Set aside half a cup of the coconut milk in a small bowl
Pour the remaining coconut milk (1 ½ cups) into the 2qt saucepan
Add salt and sweeter.
Warm the coconut milk on medium-to-low heat, while occasionally stirring, until the added sweeter dissolved in the coconut milk completely. This should take between 1 and 2 minutes.
Prepare the cornstarch mix: Next, whisk in the starch into the ½ cups of reserved coconut milk. Add the starch into the coconut milk reserve and then whisk it until the starch is completely dissolved in the milk.
Add your cornstarch mixture into the coconut milk. As you whisk the coconut milk, salt, sweetener mixture, pour in the cornstarch mixture to the warm coconut milk mixture and continue whisking gently. This forms the ice cream base.
Let the base thicken: Heat this ice cream base until it’s completely thickened just like yogurt. You might want to increase the heat for this – but to medium, not high.
Cook as you stir the base occasionally until your ice cream thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon – this should take between 6 and 8 minutes. However, you must be very careful not to let the base boil or come close to boiling.
Stir in the vanilla extract: Now that the desired thickness has been achieved, remove the ice cream base from the beat and then stir in the vanilla extract.
Chill your ice cream base: Pour the ice cream base into a shallow container and then let the base sit and cool slightly on the kitchen counter – you don’t want it to be too hot when you put it in the refrigerator. Also, before you refrigerate the base, you should press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface.
Even though the coconut milk base will not form a skim as badly as the non-vegan milk-and-egg ice cream base, it doesn’t hurt to do it. Next, cover the container and then refrigerate your base for a minimum of 4 hours or a maximum of 3 days.
For the best results, consider waiting 45 minutes before removing the base from the freezer to scrape off any ice crystals that could have formed. Repeat this after 30 minutes, and until the mixture is frozen.
Start churning: By now, your base is completely chilled, and it has a pudding-like texture. So, take the chilled base and pour it in the ice cream machine then begin churning.
Right Consistency: Keep churning your ice cream base until it attains a thick consistency for soft-serving. Note that churning could take 10-20 minutes, depending on the machine used. But this doesn’t mean that you should keep the machine unattended. Keep an eye out. Also, this is the best time to add extras to your ice cream base. So, add the extras then let them churn for a few seconds or until they are incorporated in the base fully.
Transfer your ice cream to the freezer container. To transfer the ice cream to a freezer container, you have to scrape the ice cream off the ice cream machine bowl into the freezer container. Now, press a parchment paper against the surface of the ice cream to prevent the formation of ice crystals. Then seal the freezer container.
Keep your ice cream frozen for at least 4 hours – 4 hours allows hardening of the ice cream.
Warm the ice cream, albeit slightly before you serve it, especially if the ice cream is too hard to scoop. Remember that warming the ice cream means leaving it on the ice cream counter for some minutes.
Also, homemade ice cream melts faster than the dairy ice creams, so you shouldn’t let the ice cream sit for too long before enjoying it.
Tips for Making the Best Vegan Ice Cream
Use the right milk, such as the high-fat, full-cream canned coconut milk or almond milk if you don’t like coconut milk
Invest in the best ice cream maker from a renowned brand
Add your mix-ins carefully. Don’t toss in all your vegan chocolate chips at once, add them in layers. Otherwise, tossing everything in at once leaves some of the mix-ins settled at the bottom. Also, you should use a wide spatula to fold in the mixture carefully.
Add some booze (if you like) to give your ice cream a flavor boost. Try dark rum or bourbon, but don’t get too boozy!
Get creative with recipes
Don’t rush the process. You cannot rush the perfect sweet treat.