Vegan Chocolate Candy Cane Ice Cream (a recipe in progress)

Here’s the scoop. I don’t really like sugar. Sweet things don’t do it for me- I’d take kale chips over fudge any day. However, I do have a thing for chocolate. Exquisitely dark, complicated chocolate, not too sweet, just plain, bitter chocolate. Sometimes I like it with some heat from cayenne, ginger or cinnamon, maybe some peppermint, alcohol and chocolate go swimmingly, of course some nuts stirred in will be fine, and I do have a fondness for tart raspberries with chocolate. But too much sugar, cheap fat or poor flavour really ruin it for me. I like my chocolate like I like my coffee, dark and bitter, maybe with some more chocolate stirred in.
So. That said. Ice cream tends to dilute chocolate just a bit too much for my taste. I know, it’s called “ice cream” not “iced chocolate”- but really, I want iced chocolate… with a creamy texture. How to make this? Coconut milk is a good start, the fats melt seamlessly with dark chocolate without changing its melting point. I want real chocolate, but also some good dark cocoa stirred in to help counter all that coconut milk. A bit of vanilla. And additional dark chocolate shavings stirred in at the last minute. Yes, that will do.
I tried my hand at making chocolate ice cream for the first time tonight, this time with candy canes and peppermint oil stirred in (’tis the season- I used this recipe as a starting point). I tried using chia seeds and a bit of starch to make it a bit thicker. I couldn’t get the chia seeds fine enough in my grinder, though I think they have potential. Instead of starch, I will use custard powder next time. And 3/4c sugar is too much for 3c coconut milk and 1 1/2 c dark chocolate. I only added 1 1/2 T cocoa powder and 1 1/2 c chocolate, and it’s not chocolatey enough. So. More cocoa, I think, and perhaps some chocolate extract. And maybe some shaved chocolate throughout. It will likely take several more tries til I make a recipe worthy of sharing, but rest assured, dear reader, I will produce one! Hopefully I won’t have to eat too many not-quite-right batches of ice cream in the mean time….

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Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Ice Cream

Coconut Bliss Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge

NB: I recently found out that Coconut Bliss was bought out by a dairy farm. I believe the owner’s intentions were good, and that this was what they saw as the best way out of a crappy situation, but you can look at their explanation and decide for yourself!

I know I just admitted that ice cream was the thing I miss least about being vegan. However, there are certain situations where ice cream is called for, and it’s important to have a reasonable substitute to the dairy version. In this case, it was the boy’s birthday. After watching him devour a slab of tiramisu three inches thick, following a dinner of spaghetti doused in cooking oil and poorly prepared vegetables (diced, over-cooked asparagus, anyone? Undercooked white mushrooms?) I needed a treat. A treat that did not involve cooking. That’s where ice cream comes in. It’s such a decadent, once-in-a-while dessert, and done properly, it can make or break an evening.

I had tried other soy and coconut milk ice creams before, and found them lacking- either the texture (too processed or with artificial thickeners), or the flavour (just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I only eat fruit!) was just off. But Luna and Larry have done some kind of wonderful with Coconut Bliss. This stuff reminds me of Baskin Robinns– good, rich, dense, smooth- proper ice cream.

After first seeing it at Planet Organic I was intrigued…. after reading this review, I was compelled… and after PO decided to have a customer appreciation day with a discount on the stuff, I was sold. And I am so glad I was. I would not normally spend money/calories on a dessert- I’d rather spend it on good olives or wine. But this is excellent. Here’s what I¬†recommend:

Coconut Bliss and Brandy (a suggestion, more than a recipe)

1 scoop Coconut Bliss Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Ice Cream
1 ounce good French brandy

Place ice cream in a tea cup or glass of your choosing. Pour brandy over. Swoon.