Today my guy turns thirty, which I know isn’t really a big deal. Its just a number on an infinite scale and the older I get, the more I realise how little numbers define us. But here I am nearly 5000 km away, unable to share this special return around the sun with him, and I wish I could be there. My parents always tell the cutest stories about what they did for each other on their thirtieths; where they ate and what special gift then chose each other. For us, this story will be more akin to “remember that time you were in New York having a blast, while I was hopelessly apartment hunting…..”. Not nearly as romantic, but I know overtime will look back and laugh.
Anyways, as I wasn’t’ around to make him is usual birthday cake, I made something I wanted (classic Sophie) – So happy birthday to you! I made myself ice cream!!!
This isn’t your typical ice cream as it is free of dairy, eggs, and granulated sugar. I’m sure some of you will be thinking, ‘how can this possibly be good?” But believe me, it’s aaaaamazing!In the past I’ve had problems with homemade vegan ice cream (other than banana ice cream which is the best invention since the wheel). Sometimes I’ve found homemade coconut milk ice cream it too icy, or not rich enough, or not nearly as creamy as the kind I normally buy at the grocery store. And then there is the issue of how its made. Often recipes call for both things like cornstarch and an ice cream maker to remedy these issues. But for me, these aren’t always an option. So instead, I turned to my favourite ice cream parlour in the city, Van Leeuwen, for inspiration and found the answer in the form of cashew milk.
Cashew milk adds a thickness and creaminess that resembles a custard based ice cream. It is rich and smooth on the tongue, definitely not icy, and oh so good. Dare I say, the best vegan ice cream! And best of all, you can make it without an ice cream maker!
While I added salt and cacao nibs to my ice cream, you could easily stir in some fresh fruit (like cherries) at the end, or add some peppermint extract and cacao nibs to make a batch of good ol’ fashion chocolate chip mint.
When they say chocolate is good for you, they don’t mean those peanut butter cups from the grocery store check out, sorry guys. Instead, most of the goodness comes from what makes up the chocolate, the cocoa. Chocolate can be made out of two different components, cocoa powder and raw cacao powder. While the words look very similar, the products themselves are incredibly different. Raw cacao powder is made through cold pressing cacao beans (to separate the cacao butter from the powder), while cocoa powder has been roasted at a high temperature once extracted. Unfortunately, the heating of the beans often breaks down the good enzymes and destroys much of the nutritional benefits of the raw product. If you can’t find raw cacao, look for natural cocoa, which is closest to raw, as opposed to the Dutch-Processed variety which has been washed with potassium carbonate to alkalize the pH and reduce acidity.
Health Benefits of Cacao
- Flavonoids: Funny word, I know. But these guys are the antioxidants found in favourites such as green tea, berries, and red grapes.
- Magnesium: Cacao beans are one of the best sources of magnesium which is essential in the functioning of healthy muscles and nerves
- Iron: One ounce of cacao nibs has more than triple your daily intake of recommended iron. Take that, spinach!
Recipe: (Serves 4) Print it Here
3/4 Cup Cashews, soaked for at least 8 hours
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbsp. Water
3 Tbsp. Melted Coconut Oil
1 Cup Coconut Creme
6 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener (Honey, Agave, Maple Syrup)
1/2 tsp. High Quality Flaky Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
5 Tbsp. Raw Cacao Powder (or Cocoa Powder)
2- 4 Tbsp. Cacao Nibs
1. Drain the cashews and combine them with a splash of the fresh water in a high-speed blender. Begin to puree, slowly adding the water, until a smooth milk has been made.
2. Add the melted Coconut Oil, Coconut Creme, Sweetener, salt, vanilla, and Cacao. Puree just until mixed.
3. Place the ice cream mixture in a metal bowl and pop it into the freezer. After a few hours give it a stir and return it to the freezer. Stir it every once in a while until its reached pudding consistency. Then stir in the cacao nibs and place in a sealed container to set fully.
4. Let soften up prior to serving. Garnish with more cacao nibs, or if you’re feeling crazy, maybe some Maldon!