Happy 2017, Friends! (It’s not too late to say that right?)
I hope your January has been a fantastic kickoff for the year ahead — that you’ve fully recovered from your holiday withdrawals, that you’re sticking to your resolutions, and that your 2017 outlook is bright and shiny!
As many of us do, I’ve been focusing on health this month. Specifically, resetting my definition of “moderation” after indulging without abandon for the entirety of December. Whoops.
One of my major focuses has been eating more plant-based foods. That’s a tall order for a girl with a blog called Butterlust, but one I’m happy I committed to because it’s opened my eyes and tastebuds to a whole new world of desserts.
Admittedly, in the past I’ve often brushed over recipes with the word vegan in the title, giving them little consideration if any at all. There are so many techniques and recipes to master in the world of classic pastries, adding another layer of complexity to a recipe by eliminating traditional ingredients can be, well, daunting. But, the new year brings new challenges (including fitting into a wedding dress!) and this year I decided to rise to the occasion. It’s good to mix things up, right?
As I was researching vegan dessert recipes, I discovered that many dairy-free ice cream recipes depend on cashews for their creamy texture. I’d been experimenting with making almond milk at home for months, and I can attest to how absolutely rich and delicious homemade nut milks are. Knowing this, combined with the fact that homemade ice cream is one of my all-time favorite treats, I decided to start there.
This Vegan Mint Mocha Chip Ice Cream features an intensely smooth ice cream base made with a combination of coconut milk, coconut cream and raw cashews. It’s rich and creamy in an almost buttery way that you don’t get with a cow’s milk ice cream. For the mint flavor, it’s spiked with both fresh mint leaves and mint extract for a classic minty blast with a fresh, herbal twist.
And then there’s the mocha. I’m a sucker for chocolate covered espresso beans. On more than one drowsy morning, my fiancé has caught me sneaking a handful to snack on alongside my cup of coffee for a little extra pick-me-up. Breakfast indulgences aside, they’re perfection in this vegan mint ice cream. The earthy espresso beans add the perfect amount of bitter crunch, while the chocolate pieces melt slowly on your tongue, creating a wintery fresh ice cream experience that’s out of this world.
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum (optional)
1/4 cup vegan chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped
2 oz. vegan dark chocolate, chopped
The night before preparing the ice cream
Place the bowl of your ice cream maker into the freezer to thoroughly chill.
Place one can of coconut milk in the refrigerator. Make sure not to disturb it too much, as you will use only the cream the rises to the top in the ice cream.
Place your cashews in a bowl of water to soak. You can also do this day-of, but they need at least 4 hours.
When you're ready to make the ice cream
Place the second can of coconut milk and one half of the fresh mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the mixture come to room temperature.
Once cooled strain the infused coconut milk into the blender and discard the cooked mint leaves. Remove the chilled can of coconut milk from the refrigerator and carefully open it. Skim the thick white coconut cream from the top and add to the blender. Discard the rest of the liquid.
Add the drained cashews, remaining 1/4 cup fresh mint, peppermint extract, melted coconut oil, sugar and xantham gum to the blender. Blend on high until creamy and smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the mixture to your chilled ice cream bowl and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, anywhere from 25-45 minutes.
Once thick and frozen, mix in the chopped espresso beans and chocolate, then transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and freeze until firm.
The ice cream will freeze very hard, so let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes before scooping to serve.
This recipe works best with a high-powered blender like a Vitamix. If you're using a regular blender, make sure to soak the cashews for a full 8 hours so they are soft enough to liquify.
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