Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty certain ice cream brings a smile to any and every face - it’s creamy, sweet, and nostalgic. But, I know what you’re thinking, and I totally agree.
The majority of ice cream on the market is filled with artificial flavors, colors, made from poorly treated cows, and has a crazy amount of sugar. What’s awesome about that? Not a whole lot. Yes, there are some companies far and few between using organic dairy or are completely dairy and sugar free like Jönes Gourmet Gelato < so yummy! But, with a little time, a few appliances, and some amazing ingredients, you can have delicious no-crap-added ice cream made fresh at home.
This recipe is vegan and made from all natural ingredients. The ice cream is made with cashews, coconut milk, coconut sugar, and coffee. The coconut sugar’s rich golden color is what gives the ice cream it’s coffee-like color. The cashews gives a creaminess that feels most similar to dairy-based ice creams. The cookies are made with a base of dates, hazelnuts, and cacao. This dessert is not overly (or conventionally) sweet so if you do like things to be on the sweeter end, go for the higher suggested coconut sugar portion and add maple syrup to the cookie.
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1 can coconut milk
1/2 - 3/4 cup coconut sugar, finely ground
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, organic and fair trade
pinch of salt
1 cup hazelnuts, soaked and toasted
1/2 cup dates. soaked
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp maple syrup, optional
a few pinches of Maldon sea salt flakes, for garnish
1. The night before: Soak the hazelnuts and place the ice cream machine bowl in the freezer.
2. Toast the hazelnuts. Preheat oven to the lowest temperature possible (most likely around 175-200°) or use a dehydrator (150°). The toasting/dehydrating time will depend on the temperature. In the oven I’ve found it takes about 5-7 hours; a dehydrator may take up to 18 hours. Occasionally toss them. They’re ready when they become aromatic and the skins start to easily peel off.
If you haven’t soaked the hazelnuts or are short on time, toast them at 300° for 30-35 minutes. Toss them every 5 minutes are so.
3. Brew the coffee. Use the method that you like best. I tend to use a chemex or single drip filter. Make sure that the coffee is strong and not too diluted to yield a stronger tasting coffee ice cream.
Now is a good time to grind the coconut sugar. A coffee or spice grinder will do. You want to yield a fine sugar so that it will readily dissolve.
4. Make the ice cream base. In a sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and coffee; whisk until thoroughly mixed. Strain the cashews. Add the cashews and liquid mixture to a blender. Blend, blend blend! Blend on high for at least a few minutes, making to sure to obtain a silky smooth consistency. Taste and make any adjustments. You may want your ice cream to be sweeter, etc.
Place in an airtight container and let it come to room temperature (but do not place in the refrigerator). I let mine sit for a solid 3 hours.
5. Finish the ice cream* in an ice cream maker. Follow manufacturer instructions.
Take the ice cream bowl out of the freezer, turn the machine on, add the ice cream base, then let it go for about 20-30 minutes or until it becomes the consistency of soft serve. Place the ice cream in an airtight container and put in the freezer.
6. Make the cookies. Soak the dates for 10-15 minutes in warm water. Strain and blend in a food processor for a minute or two. Add the hazelnuts (with the skins), blend for 5-7 minutes or until it becomes the consistency of a nut butter. This will require a spatula to scrape down the sides every few minutes. Then, add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and well mixed. Taste, make any adjustments. It should be a thick dough-like consistency.
I’ve made these cookies with and without the maple syrup, it’s definitely not necessary, but sometimes is a nice addition. It’s your call. None of this dessert will be overly sweet, but I’ve found that we all have our own sweet-intensity preferences!
7. Press the cookies. Prepare a baking sheet with two sheets of parchment paper. With a spoon scoop a small portion of dough from the food processor. Roll the dough in your palms, creating a ball. All the cookies should be more or less uniform in size. With the second sheet of parchment between you and the cookie, press the cookies flat with your palm on the baking sheet. Each cookie should be about 2 1/2 - 3 inches wide and 2-4 centimeters thick. I found that a thinner cookie works best for this ice cream sandwich. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
You should yield 12-14 cookies, depending on the size.
8. Make your sandwich! Remove the ice cream and cookies from the freezer (ok, go ahead, have a spoon full!). If the ice cream has been in the freezer for more than a few hours, you may need it to thaw out for 10 minutes or so (as with most vegan ice creams). With a hearty spoon or ice cream scoop, form a scoop for your sandwich. Place it between two cookies, gently press together. Sprinkle the top of each sandwich with Maldon sea salt flakes, gently press into the cookie.
Enjoy immediately or wrap in parchment (or saran wrap), place in the freezer, and enjoy later! You will have extra ice cream (oh, what a shame).
*Check notes section at the bottom of this post
The process of making this recipe will take a few days. Soaking the hazelnuts, toasting or dehydrating them, and making sure your ice cream maker bowl is well frozen.
Here’s an example schedule of executing it: On a Friday night soak your hazelnuts and place the ice cream bowl in the freezer. Saturday morning place the nuts in the oven to let them toast for a good portion of the day. A few hours later, start making the ice cream and in the evening make the cookies. You could also toast the nuts one day and finish the recipe the following day.
Don’t have an ice cream maker? If you don’t have an ice cream maker, cool the mixture to room temperature, place in an airtight container and put in the freezer. Every hour whisk the mixture until the desired texture is met.