For this recipe I’ve used full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream to make a dairy-free, vegan version. You may have seen, or even tried to make coconut milk ice cream in the past. It’s always perfectly delicious right out of the ice cream maker, with that silky soft-serve texture but then it always seems to freeze into a rock and form crunchy ice crystals. And no one wants ice cream with ice crystals in it. For this reason I’ve been testing a base recipe for ice crystal free and slightly softer vegan ice cream. The trick is in the arrowroot starch, liquid sweetener, and vodka. Make this recipe as is, or throw in your favorite mix-ins. —Ashley McLaughlin
6 to 8
vanilla beans, from 1 to 2 scraped vanilla bean pods -- reserve pods
cans full-fat coconut milk
brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
pure cane sugar
In This Recipe
Freeze your ice cream maker canister for at least 24 hours before starting this recipe. Do not skip this step!
With a sharp knife trim the ends of your vanilla bean pod and slice down the center lengthwise cutting through only the top layer. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod with a dull edge, such as a butter-knife. Measure 1/4 teaspoon or a tad more and set aside. (You may need 2 vanilla bean pods depending on the size of your pods.) Reserve the scraped pods.
To prepare the ice bath: Find two large heat-safe (glass and plastic are not recommended) mixing bowls that can nest together and fill the larger of the two about 1/3 full of ice. Place the other bowl on top. Set aside.
Empty entire contents of both coconut milk cans into a medium-sized pot.
Remove a few tablespoons of the coconut milk liquid and place in a small bowl along with the arrowroot starch. Whisk thoroughly until combined.
Pour entire starch mixture into the pot along with the brown rice syrup, cane sugar, and vanilla beans.
Heat over medium and whisk the ingredients until fully combined.
Once combined add the vanilla bean pods to the pot and bring to a low boil, whisking every minute or so.
Let boil for about 1 1/2 minutes and slowly stir with the whisk.
Pour entire mixture into the top bowl of your ice bath.
Whisk in the vodka and let the mixture sit until ice cold, whisking every so often. It will take at least 1 1/2 hours to fully chill. Waiting for the mixture to fully chill is a must!
Once cold, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and turn on. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and remove ice cream into a 8- x 4-inch bread pan or plastic container once complete. (I have a Cuisinart brand and it takes just over 20 minutes before it’s the consistency of a thick soft serve.) Serve immediately if you are after a soft serve texture.
Pack ice cream into your container and spread evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream and press lightly so it’s fully stuck to the top.
Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving for a traditional ice cream texture. Let sit for a few minutes then scoop, serve, and top however you’d like. Place your parchment paper securely on the surface of the ice cream to help avoid ice crystals forming and store in the freezer.
NOTES: If you do not want to use the ice bath method, you can instead pour the hot mixture into a heat-safe bowl, whisk in the vodka, and then place in the refrigerator until fully chilled. Whisking the mixture will help speed the cooling process.
*The vodka is a necessary ingredient to help the ice cream not turn rock hard. If you want an even softer ice cream use 1 1/2 tablespoons.
*The arrowroot starch and liquid sweetener help the texture and also avoid ice crystallization.
*For sweeter ice cream add 2 more tablespoons of pure cane sugar to the mixture before heating.