Ok… so what is a tiger nut?
Tiger nut is a small vegetable in the tuber family. I know, right? Not what the name lends us to believe. This tuber is loaded with prebiotic fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and fat (the good kind). Tiger nuts were once a staple of the human diet and are still grown in many parts of the wold. It’s a main ingredient for Spanish horchata, for example - and when you taste the tiger nut milk, you can really see why it pairs with cinnamon so well.
I had been hearing about this ingredient for some time, but had yet to try it until early this summer. It was foreign to me and definitely felt mysterious. But no need to fear. This tuber is delicious! When made into a milk, it’s slightly sweet, earthy, nutty, and super creamy. I add it to my coffee, tea, make tapioca pudding with it, and a number of other things. You can also bake with tiger nut flour which is reminiscent of the nuttiness of coconut. Some people eat the tuber whole after soaking for a day, having it as a snack.
But, back to the task at hand - ice cream. This ice cream recipe is super simple with minimal ingredients. It’s creamy and the spices really come through. The possibilities are endless: pair it with an apple crisp, place a scoop on top of baked fruit, or make the mixture into popsicles. I’ve topped mine with roasted figs and a little maple syrup. All in all though, this ice cream doesn’t need any pairing, it’s satisfying all on its own.
The final note is that this ice cream is sorta… good for you. It’s sweetened with dates which are a great source of fiber, b vitamins (especially b3 &6), magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and folic acid. Cashews are a great source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Cardamom is anti-carcinogenic, supports a healthy cardiovascular system, is thought to have anti-depressant properties, and is used in Ayurveda for gastrointestinal conditions. Cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory food, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, supports a healthy heart, promotes optimal insulin sensitivity (helps to regulate blood sugar) and it therefore anti-diabetic, and has a positive impact on neurological health. There’s not one ingredient in here that doesn’t have a positive impact on your health, which is a beautiful thing!
Happy ice cream-making!
Tiger Nut Milk:
1 cup tiger nuts, soaked for 24 hours
4 cups fresh water
2 cup tiger nut milk
2/3 cup cashews, soaked
2/3 c dates, soaked
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey, more to taste
Tiger Nut Milk:
1. Soak the tiger nuts for 24 hours (make sure there’s plenty of water covering them). Drain and rinse well; add to a high speed blender. Pour in 4 cups of fresh water. Gradually increase the blender speed, eventually set on high. Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds.
2. Place a nut bag (or cheese cloth over a strainer) into a larger bowl. Pour the milk into the nut bag (or cheese cloth), twist the top of the bag and squeeze until all milk has been extracted. You should yield 4 cups. The ice cream recipe calls for 2 cups, so use the extra milk in your coffee, hot cacao drink, pour over oatmeal, or however you prefer your milk! I find it goes rather quickly.
1. The day or two before: Place your ice cream bowl in the freezer and begin to soak the tiger nuts.
2. Soak the cashews for ~4 hours; soak the dates for 30 minutes.
3. In a food processor add the dates and blend until it turns into a smooth paste. You’ll need to scrape down the sides every few seconds.
*I like to turn the dates into a paste before I add them to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like doing this, no problem. Simply add the dates to the blender whole (but do soak!). Blend the dates and 1 cup of the milk together first before adding in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Drain and rinse the cashews, add them to the blender along with the date paste, tiger nut milk, spices, honey, vanilla, and sea salt. Gradually increase the blender’s speed - blend on high until smooth. Taste and make any desired adjustments.
Notes: Because this mixture will be frozen when eaten, you want the flavors to really stand out when tasting at room temperature. I like my desserts on the low end of the sweetness spectrum, so if you know you’re the opposite, right away you can increase the amount of dates to 1 full cup or increase the honey portion.
5. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour, or until cool.
6. Remove the ice cream bowl from the freezer and set up your ice cream maker. Follow the maker’s directions. About 20 minutes later you’ll have a nice creamy cold **almost** ice cream. Taste again, because why not? Scrape the contents into a container and place in the freezer. Depending on your patience, I like to wait a few hours before eating (or enjoy the following day).
To Serve: Like many vegan ice creams, this one needs to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving. To serve, I’ve roasted figs in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes sprinkled with coconut sugar. Let the figs come to room temperature before topping your scoops! A drizzle of honey or maple syrup is also encouraged. Or simple serve as is.
For more information on tiger nuts here’s a few links to check out: