BASIC CUSTARD & MEXICAN CHOCOLATE ICECREAM

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It finally happened. After a few years of contemplation on whether I *really* needed an ice cream maker with a compressor, I decided the answer was yes. Especially since the plant based options for frosty snacks are somewhat sparse (but increasing) and heinously expensive.

You may have gathered that my vegan food style is somewhat American diner meets no-kill-grill meets comfort. And what better fit that than ice cream into that mix. My first batch was an awesome Mexican chocolate, paired with a soft taco dinner,  the perfect finisher. Chili, chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon with a touch of maple bourbon. Adult dessert heaven.

Before I posted about it, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t freak beginners luck. So I embarked on a vanilla apricot ripple, capitalising on a bumper crop of apricots that had been turned into a thick puree of sweet goodness. There are a couple of things to know when making a plant based ice cream without cream or eggs. To avoid ending up with an icy disappointing mass, you need fats, no way round it. The best way to do this is to use a coconut cream custard base. Yes, there is a mild coconut taste, but this pairs well with lots of other flavours, and mouth feel trumps essence of coconut in my book.

Traditional ice cream is an egg based custard with cream and milk and sugar, flavoured and churned until it is frozen. The plant based alternative is a similar process. There are lots of different methods on the Internets, from coconut to cashew cream, and it is worth checking out a few recipes to find your groove. I decided on purchasing an ice cream machine with a compressor vs those removable bowls you keep in the freezer as I had always had terrible sloppy results, and the limitation of only being able to do one batch every 24 hours seemed cray cray. Yes, the compressor version is much more expensive, but it is a legit piece of kit designed for heavy use, and the price reflects that. These machines make about 1.5 litres per batch, continuously which is a decent quantity for max scoopage.

I’ve settled on a Basic Custard recipe as follows:

1 can full fat coconut cream

1 can full fat coconut milk

1TBSP coconut oil

¼ - ½ cup maple syrup or corn syrup or agave syrup (let me explain…)

2 TBSP custard powder (check box to make sure it is dairy free)

1TBSP vodka (more explaining...)

So there are a few things to explain about the base before we move to the method. To get the mouth feel that is smooth and non granular, you need to have high fat ingredients. Using a sugar element that is liquid helps to create this mouthfeel. If you get the hebejeebs just by seeing the word corn syrup I understand. My position on this is that if you lead a healthy vegan lifestyle with minimal processed foods, and limited sugar, then a little corn syrup isn’t the work of the devil. All sugars have consequences, but as this is an ice cream recipe, lets take that as a given, and moderation is the key. Agave syrup or maple are both great too, and bring their own flavour profiles. Taste your own path. The vodka is used to stop the icecream being icy when it freezes and helps with the smoothness. If you want to omit alcohol for any reason, no problem.

All the base custard ingredients need to be heated on the stove or in a Thermomix style device and once the mixture has reaching boiling point, simmered for 2 mins then emulsified in the machine or with a stick blender to make sure when the churning happens, the custard is smooth with no small lumps of coconut cream or fat that will snowball and become grainy when frozen.

I use the custard powder as it adds an element of thickness, and as most custard powder is gluten free, it is good for all diets. If you want to omit that element its not problem, but I like it. Once these steps are complete, leave this custard to cool now. When cool, its into the ice cream machine for the churn cycle before heading to the freezer.

To make the apricot swirl version featured here, I added 3 TBSP of quality vanilla extract with seeds to the custard, my machine churns this mix for about 40 minutes and it is soft set, ready for the apricot to be swirled through then into the freezer. Take it out a little before serving so it scoops to perfection.

For the Mexican Chocolate version

1 quantity basic custard

1TBSP Maple Bourbon or Spiced Rum

½ cup dairy free dark chocolate buttons or block broken into the mix

1TBSP cinnamon

2TBSP vanilla essence

1t chili powder or 1 birdseye chilli split and steeped in the hot custard (remove before churning)

Oh my. The taste of summer and every other season 24/7, right there.

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