Ice Cream for Dad

It’s June, and that means two things* – Father’s Day and the (un)official beginning of Homemade Ice Cream Season.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Granted, I only have one man to judge this by, but if my dad is any indicator, homemade ice cream makes dads very happy.

When I was a girl, we used one of those big ol’ five quart electric churns that sat out in the yard, whining away, while we fed it chunks of ice and rock salt.  Those churns are still available.  I got a spiffy purple one three years ago.  It only cost about $20 and it works great.  The thing is, I don’t throw enough parties to make big batches of ice cream very often, so that churn spends most of its time in the basement, waiting for its next trip to a potluck.  (We didn’t throw many parties when I was a kid, either, but with three kids, two ice-cream lovin’ adults, and the occasional neighbor dropping by and challenging Dad to an ice cream eating contest, ice cream rarely went to waste.  If we had leftovers, we just left them in the churn on ice until supper time.)

Last year I broke down and bought a fun double-barreled “indoor” ice cream maker.  I can make one or two quarts and/or flavors at a time.  I got it from a re-seller on eBay, and it was about $50.  I have a large freezer to keep the gel-filled “sleeves” in, so I just leave them in there all the time, in freezer bags to help protect them from picking up any “off” odors.  I’ve found that if you pre-chill the ice cream mix for 40 minutes in the freezer or overnight in the refrigerator, you can make the full two quarts very quickly.  If you’re like me and prefer to do things on the spur of the moment, you can make a pint in each side without pre-chilling.  (The mix should be no warmer than room temperature, however.)

For this article, I wanted to stick with very quick and easy ice creams that you can make without a lot of planning.  I got a new book recently called Vice Cream, by Jeff Rogers.  Rogers uses a lot of cashews and coconut milk to make his vegan ice creams or “vice creams”.  Half of the recipes in the book are raw.  I learned from him that some raw foodists won’t use mechanically-hulled raw cashews because they have been heat-treated to make them easier to shell.  Most of his “raw” creations involve other nuts or fresh coconut milk.  The other nuts have to be pre-soaked to be made into “milk”, so I won’t include them here.  If you’re a raw foodist, though, and don’t mind a little pre-planning, I think you’ll enjoy them.

Rogers uses a lot of maple syrup in his “vice creams”.  Two problems here – for me the recipes were too sweet, so I’ve cut the sweetener from 1 cup to 3/4 cup in most of the recipes.  I also find that maple syrup has a very recognizable flavor.  In some contexts, it works really well (with chocolate, or toasted nuts), but for subtle flavors like vanilla, the maple syrup can be overwhelming.  I tried agave nectar as a replacement, but it was cloying and gave me a weird sensation on my tongue, like the one I get from honey.  So, I tried the time-tested sweetener, unbleached cane sugar, and it worked great.  Rogers uses honey dates in his raw “vice creams”.  I couldn’t find honey dates, so I tried medjool dates in the cranberry ice and they worked just fine.  You can use whatever sweetener you prefer.  They all produce a nicely textured “cream”.

Rogers also advises you to stay away from alcohol-based flavor extracts because they slow the freezing process.  This is true up to a point.  If you are going to serve your ice cream right away, you might want to stick with alcohol-free “flavors” (like the ones Frontier makes).  If, however, you plan to save any of your ice cream to eat later, adding a tablespoon or two of a liqueur or alcohol-based extract will add a delicious flavor and keep the ice cream from freezing rock hard.  I had several liqueurs and a bit of rum sitting around collecting dust and I put them to good use while testing these recipes.

One more note – Rogers uses plain cocoa powder in his “chocolate” recipes.  I tried it and found it makes a chalky “chocolate”.  I tried the same recipes with Dutched cocoa powder and they were wonderful – very dark and smooth and velvety.  “Dutched” cocoa is processed with an alkalizing agent to make it less acidic and more smooth-flavored.  I can’t find any negative health information for Dutched cocoa (everything I’ve read says it’s fine), but since it is not a “natural” product, you will have to get Dutched cocoa at a mainstream supermarket.

I’m giving you a basic vanilla cashew “vice cream” with variations, a coconut milk version with variations and, for the raw foodists out there, I’m sending along a cranberry ice recipe.

Three years ago, I wrote an article on homemade vegan ice cream that used a lot of soy and involved making cooked bases for “gelato” style ice cream.  That article and all my archived articles are now available online at my website, http://www.organicgoddess.com/ .

*June also mean weddings and graduations, but never fear – you can serve homemade ice cream at them, too.

Vanilla Cashew “Vice Cream”
Any of the variations below will work with this base, or the coconut milk base, and vice versa (so to speak).
Recipe adapted from Vice Cream by Jeff Rogers
Makes about 1 quart
Preparation Time: 10 minutes to mix, 30-40 minutes to freeze

2 cups raw cashews or cashew pieces
2 cups water
3/4 cup sweetener of your choice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or alchohol-free flavor (or 2 vanilla beans)

Grind cashews in a blender.  (If using vanilla beans, break them into small pieces and grind with cashews).  Add water and your favorite sweetener (and extract, if using) and blend until perfectly smooth.  (Let the blender run for at least 1 full minute, or 2-3 if your blender isn’t very powerful.)  Pre-chill mixture for 1 hour in the freezer or for several hours in the refrigerator if you have time.  Freeze according to your ice cream freezer’s directions.  Enjoy!
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Variations:
Add 1- 2 teaspoons of any flavor of your choice (peppermint, almond, etc.) or 1-2 tablespoons of any liqueur of your choice

Add 1 cup chopped fruit to blender for a smooth fruit ice cream,

Or add 1 cup of fruit chunks after freezing is almost complete.  (If you are using frozen fruit, allow it to thaw first and reserve the juices, then add thawed fruit and juice at the end.  Frozen chunks of fruit tend to be icy and ruin the texture.)

Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped, toasted nuts or toasted coconut after freezing is almost complete.

Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup Dutched cocoa powder to blender mix for Chocolate Vice Cream.

Black Forest – Add 1/2 cup Dutched cocoa to blender mix, then add 1 cup chopped and pitted cherries and 1 cup toasted, chopped almonds after freezing is almost complete.   2 tablespoons of Frangelica liqueur is a nice addition, or 1 teaspoon of almond extract.

Fresh Lemon – omit vanilla and add 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or Santa Cruz Organic bottled lemon juice).  You might need to add additional sweetener.

Carrot Cake – use 2 cups carrot juice in place of water.  Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice to blender mix, freeze, then add 1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans.  A tablespoon of Frangelico or a teaspoon of almond extract is a nice addition.

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Vanilla Coconut Milk Vice Cream
The coconut milk-based “vice creams” don’t get quite as hard in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from Vice Cream by Jeff Rogers
Makes about 1 quart
Preparation Time: 5 minutes to mix, 30 – 40 minutes to freeze

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (Thai Kitchen makes a nice organic one)
3/4 cup sweetener of your choice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blend ingredients.  Pre-chill mixture for 1 hour in the freezer or for several hours in the refrigerator if you have time.  Freeze as directed.
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Variations:
Banana – add 1 cup very ripe banana (can be frozen) to blender.

Chocolate – add 1/2 cup Dutched Cocoa to blender.

Jalapeno Heaven  – add 1 teaspoon (super-mild) to 2 tablespoons (hot!) of finely chopped jalapeno pepper to blender.

Tropical Delight – add any or all of the following –  1 cup very ripe banana, 1 cup crushed pineapple, 1 or 2 diced mangoes to blender mix, and  2 tablespoons of toasted coconut and 1 tablespoon of rum when freezing is almost complete. (Note that this will make up to 6 cups, so you’ll need a bigger freezer.)

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(Raw) Cranberry Banana Ice

Recipe adapted from Jeff Rogers, Vice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
Preparation Time: 10 minutes to prep, 30 – 40 minutes to freeze

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups water
1/2 cup packed pitted dates (honey or medjool)
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas

Blend all ingredients until very smooth.  Pre-chill mixture for 1 hour in the freezer or for several hours in the refrigerator if you have time.  Freeze as directed.
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Notes:    This is tangy and a little icy.  Adding an extra banana or two would help make it creamier.