Monday, January 25, 2016

Coconut Chai Ice Cream

Yum. This ice is cream delicious and creamy. We’ve been on a homemade ice cream kick at our house. So far we’ve made eggnog (for Christmas eve), chocolate, and plain old vanilla.

Simple. Classic. Delicious. 

But, it was time to step outside the box and try something new. I wanted to try a cashew and coconut based ice cream rather than the traditional cream + egg recipe (which, IS amazing but the way). I loathe “heathy” ice cream recipes that have an icy texture and weird ingredients. Keeping true to my nutritional philosophy, I wanted to make a recipe that was tasty using REAL ingredients. No fake stuff. Or processed stuff. So here is my first attempt. There is room for improvement, but I can say that the resulting product was pretty tasty and creamy. 

Lately I've been obsessed with Flora Rooibos Chai Tea. It's been my go to mid-morning pick me up. A touch of milk, a touch of honey. Perfection! So I had to incorporate this delicious spicy, sweet flavor into ice cream. It was meant to be!

As I mentioned, I wanted to make an out-of-the-box ice cream recipe. Since vegan, nut-based recipes are all the rage right now, I decided to create my own. I love the creamy texture of cashews, so I paired them with the creamy goodness of coconut milk. The trick to non-dairy ice cream is to include FAT. This recipe is not low-fat at all, it has plenty of creamy texture from the cashews and coconut milk. That's why it tastes good. But, unlike regular ice cream, this recipe also packs added nutritional benefits. 

For the sweetener I decided to use a mix of maple syrup and dates. Mostly because I love the taste of maple syrup. Especially paired with the chai! For a thicker texture I used half dates (1/4 c of each) to create the consistency I was looking for. I think any sweetener of choice would work here.

Finally I needed something to add a little more sustenance. My first attempt at this recipes resulted in a bit "chalky" flavor, as described by Zach. No good. The second time around I adjusted the ratios and added in a banana. MUCH better. I also added cacao nibs for some crunch, which I would highly recommend!

Another important note- I used freshly ground spices. It's not hard to grind your own and it's SO SO worth the effort. The fragrance of freshly ground spices is hard to beat. All you need is a grater (cheese grater can work) and mortar and pestle (or bowl and spoon in a pinch). 

To prepare the ice cream, just blend all ingredients and add to an ice cream maker. It mixes just like a dairy based ice cream, so follow the instructions of the manufacturer.

The finished product is delicious. A topping of chocolate salt and drizzle of maple syrup doesn't hurt either!

Vegan Coconut Chai Ice Cream

by Stephanie Howe
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Keywords: dessert vegan ice-cream
  • 2 c raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 c chai tea (see NOTE)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 c maple syrup or 1/2 c packed dates (pitted and soaked for a few min)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-5 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 t fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t sea salt (I used chocolate salt)
  • 1/3 c Cacao nibs (optional)
Prepare the Cashews
Soak cashews in water overnight to soften.
Prepare the Chai
Add 1 Flora Rooibos Chai Tea bag to 1/4 c of boiling water. Steep for 5 min, then remove tea bag and squeeze out excess liquid. Store tea in the fridge until ready to use.
For the Spices
Break apart green cardamom pods and discard the pods. Use a mortar and pestle to finely smash the cardamom until a fine dust. For the cinnamon and nutmeg, freshly grate and set aside
To prepare the Ice Cream
Add cashews, banana, coconut milk, spices, salt, maple syrup/dates, and tea to a blender. Turn on and process until smooth. Transfer to an ice cream maker and follow instructions (about 20 minutes). In the last 5 min add the cacao nibs. Store in freezer. To serve, allow to warm for 3-5 min before scooping.
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