Since moving to our new apartment, I’ve been loving having the space to store all of my kitchen appliances in easy to get to places, in turn getting me to use them more. In our last place they were all jammed-in on a big wire rack, so I vowed in the new place I’d keep commonly used appliances out on the countertop for easy access (sorry Marie Kondo). The one appliance I’ve been using like crazy has been my Vitamix, especially for homemade nut milks. Seriously, why do I ever buy preservative packed nut milks from the store? Cashew milk is SO easy to make.
I had such a sweet tooth the other night, so it only seemed fitting to make a chocolatey dessert and put my Vitamix to work. I’ve always made my vegan ice cream from coconut cream. Since I’ve been making cashew milk so much lately, I figured I’d try making a cashew based ice cream instead. Per usual, I decided to do this completely last minute, so I didn’t have cashews presoaked. (On that note, I need to start planning my cooking escapades a bit more, at least on the cashew front.) Instead, I flash soaked mine using hot water, a technique I often take advantage of. To do this I warm up water in my kettle to cover and soak my cashews in. Then, I cover my (raw) cashews completely with the warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes on my countertop. Once ready, I drain and rinse them. Personally, I like to buy the raw cashew bits and pieces from Trader Joes to keep on hand for occasions like this (because their cheap and TJs rocks). I love storing them in mason jars, like all my other nuts, alternative flours and superfoods, for easy and clean accessing.
The problem with the flash soaking method is that you’ll have to let your mixture cool down before pouring it into your ice cream machine as the warm water will heat up the cashews. I ended up making my mixture and storing in the fridge to use the next day. On the plus side, I poured out a little to drink like hot chocolate immediately that night before storing it. Jesse was quite thrilled with that part.
This recipe does use an ice cream maker, but the good news is they are relatively cheap nowadays and SO worth having for those yummy, additive free vegan dessert nights. I will admit, I’m personally eyeing an upgrade now that I finally have a Kitchen Aid standing mixer (how did I ever survive with out it?).
It’s actually crazy how much you can do with the ice cream maker. I’ve even turned basic smoothies into healthy soft serve using it. Blend some dates, coconut cream, and fruit and get vegan nice cream. The options are endless! But anyway, on to what you’ll need.
- High powered blender or powerful food processor (Vitamix or Ninja both make great products on either side of the price spectrum. We have and use both.)
- Ice cream maker (I use this one by Cuisinart, but there are cheaper options out there!)
With these two items, this recipe is about as easy as it gets. After you have your soaked almonds, throw that in the blender with the water and other remaining ingredients (water, vanilla, cacao powder, and maple syrup) and blend on high until completely combined and liquified.
At this point you can spice it up if you choose by changing up the flavors: sub strawberries for cacao powder, add in maca or another favorite super food etc. For any solid items you want incorporated but not blended in (like chocolate chunks or brownie bits etc.), you’ll want to add those in towards the end of your churning process, not into the blender. This will ensure they don’t get blended up or end up at the bottom of your ice cream maker bowl.
Once done, add the mixture to your ice cream maker and let it work it’s magic. For my blender it’s a simple flick of an on switch once the top is secured on with the churning mechanism in the bowl. Serve with vegan chocolate chips, cacao nibs, or your favorite fruit! I loved the cashew route this time around. You can definitely taste the coconut milk when you use it in vegan milks, and sometimes that can be a bit overpowering (or just not the flavor you’re going for). Let me know what fun concoctions you end up making!
Easy Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream
A healthy, chocolatey, dairy-free ice cream alternative
- 1 cup raw cashews (plus water for soaking)
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (sub dates if desired)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pre-soak the cashews by covering them in water and leaving them on your counter for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can “flash” soak them by covering them in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the cashews and rinse them well.
- Add the cashews with 2 cups of filtered water (room temperature or cooler) and all other ingredients to your high powered blender and blend on high until well combined (about 1 – 1.5 minutes).
- If you flash soaked your cashews, you’ll need to put your mixture in the fridge to cool down before using your ice cream maker.
- Once the mixture is combined and cooled (at least to room temperature) add the mixture to your ice cream maker to churn and follow your ice cream makers instructions for making the ice cream.
- Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!