“Central heating, French rubber goods and cookbooks are three amazing proofs of man’s ingenuity in transforming necessity into art, and, of these, cookbooks are perhaps most lastingly delightful.”
— MFK Fisher
There’s no need for central heating in the NYC region lately. Walking outside feels like stepping into a sauna. The heat index–is this a new thing? I don’t remember this existing in my childhood–the other day was 109 degrees. It was so hot I saw a seagull walking around with its tongue sticking out, like a thirsty man in a desert.
What this means, of course, is that it’s ice cream weather. But for those of us who are lactose intolerant or vegan, it can be harder (and more expensive) to find frozen treats. Our regular spot in the East Village is Van Leeuwen. They do both vegan and regular ice cream and, while I can’t vouch for the regular, the vegan is delicious. Don’t bother with the extra $.50 for the sprinkles. They’re round and crunchy instead of the waxy, sugary goodness that nature intended.
But we don’t live in NYC and a vegan ice cream habit can bankrupt a girl, so what else to do but try to make my own? Not having the fortitude to venture out in the blazing sun, I referenced several recipes (like this one from Serious Eats, this one from Van Leeuwen, and this one from the Minimalist Baker) and concocted my own using what I had on hand. My partner does not love the flavor of coconut and I had a container of Silk Chocolate Cashew Milk, so I decided to make chocolate ice cream using the already chocolate milk as a base with more cocoa added.
A couple tips for success.
First, I wouldn’t try this without an ice cream maker. Mine is a hand-me-down simple affair, basically a bucket with a motor to spin it that looks a lot like the picture at the left. If you’re going to bother making ice cream at home, it’s best to invest in an ice cream maker. But don’t let it overchurn! That can make the ice cream icy. Secondly, the trick with vegan ice cream is getting the texture right. Regular ice cream is made with cream and milk, giving it a fat content of between 10% and 16%. Using this formula, I made sure that my recipe would come in around 14-15%. That required combining cashew milk, coconut milk (the kind for cooking that comes in a can, not the drinking kind in a milk container), and cocoa butter. Together this gave it a nice, creamy mouthfeel. No cocoa butter? I’d sub in coconut cream (the thick stuff on the top of the coconut milk) or, maybe some coconut oil. The key thing is doing just a little math to get the fat percentage right. Finally, corn syrup is your friend. While corn syrup may be the devil in massive quantities, in the small amounts used in a recipe like this, it helps to ensure that creamy, smooth texture.
Vegan Whiskey Chocolate Ice Cream
(serves an unknown amount of people depending on their gluttony)
- 1 C Silk Chocolate Cashew Milk
- 1 can coconut milk (not lite!)
- 4 T light corn syrup
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1/2 C cocoa butter
- 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (higher quality will have a richer flavor)
- pinch salt
- 1 T whiskey
Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Add the cashew and coconut milks slowly, whisking them into the powder till combined. Add the corn syrup and cocoa butter and heat until the cocoa butter melts. Don’t let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in salt and whiskey. The liquor gives it a warm background flavor and helps it not to freeze too hard. Chill for several hours or overnight. Pour into ice cream maker and voila. Vegan ice cream.