Back when I used to work in Sydney, one of my main jobs in the pastry section was making ice cream. I loved it. Playing with all that sugar, milk, cream and eggs was so much fun. We used two commercial ice cream machines to churn the custard bases, which were always whizzing away under my bench. The freezer was full to the brim with all sorts of flavours; cinnamon, creme fraiche, pistachio, brown sugar and one of my all time favourites... burn honey.
Real, pure, home made ice cream cannot be beaten and for the last 10 years I've been dreaming of owning my very own commercial ice cream maker, but a few other priorities have stood in the way of me and my machine, it seems. Yes I know it's easy to make ice cream without a machine (instructions follow below), but to me the results are not quite as good as with one. And yes I know there are loads of really cheap machines out there, but see, I'm one of those people who would rather wait for years to be able to afford the real deal than to fold and buy a much cheaper and possibly sub-standard model. Yes, I'm a snob. Well that's one way to look at it, that or I'm actually really on-to-it and would rather buy quality that won't break in two seconds? Whatever way you want to look at it I've found a happy medium and am now the proud owner of a not-rubbish-cheap-but-not-break-the-bank ice cream machine! Thankfully for me, cuisinart now make a reasonably priced machine, and although it will never be as good as my dream model with the inbuilt freezer, it does the job okay, so I'll get over it. For now.
The first recipe to christen my new machine was a no brainer, I've been eyeing up David Lebovitz's vegan strawberry ice cream recipe since way back in July last year. We were in the middle of winter when he posted it and I remember thinking how lovely it would've been to be somewhere with berries in season, eating a huge bowlful of ice cream.
He used rice milk as the base for his ice cream and a touch of alcohol to keep the texture softer, but as we don't ever really have a bottle of vodka hanging around the house these days (in the past, yes. But not so much any more) and knowing the kids would love to eat some too, I left that out altogether and used coconut milk in place of rice. The higher fat content helps to keep it ever so slightly softer. This ice cream isn't exactly what most would associate with the name, it's more sorbet-like in texture, light and not overly creamy. The strawberry flavour is dominant, with an undercurrent of vanilla, coconut and orange to keep things exciting. It's lovely eaten like soft-serve straight from the ice cream machine bowl, or pop it into a container and freeze for two hours to firm up further. If like me, you forget about it and leave it for way longer, simply pull it out of the freezer about 20-30 minutes before you are wanting to serve, leaving it to soften enough to roll with a hot scoop. Serve topped with lightly toasted coconut flakes or drizzle with dairy-free chocolate sauce for a real treat!
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.
dairy-free strawberry, vanilla & coconut ice cream
I used grated pure palm sugar, but feel free to use a nice organic raw cane sugar. If you aren't vegan, you could use honey in place of the brown rice syrup (although it will change the final flavour somewhat), or try using agave nectar. I used coconut milk, because that's what I had in the pantry, but would love to try this made using coconut cream for a much richer and consequently smoother ice cream. When buying coconut milk and cream, make sure you read the labels and only buy 100% coconut milk/cream. Many have added preservatives and stabilisers and some contain gluten (I know, what?). I've been using a vanilla bean paste lately, but if preferred use the seeds of 1 scraped vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
makes 1.25 litres
- 700g fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half
- 100g (1/3 cup firmly packed) pure (light) grated palm sugar or 100g (1/2 cup) organic raw cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) pure coconut milk~ see head notes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- a good pinch of fine sea salt
- lightly toasted flaked coconut to serve, optional
Place the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar, brown rice syrup and vanilla bean paste. Mix well and set aside for 1 hour until the sugar dissolves and forms a lovely pink syrup.
Blend strawberries, their syrup, the coconut milk, orange juice and salt in a blender until smooth. At this stage you can pass the mixture through a fine sieve if a totally smooth ice cream is preferred. I wasn't fussed, so left the strawberry seeds in.
Chill the mixture well before churning in an ice cream maker, following your manufacturers instructions. Eat as soft serve straight from the machine, or scoop into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours before serving. This ice cream freezes solid when left any longer than 2 hours in the freezer due to it's high water content and lack of cream and eggs. If left for longer than 2 hours, remove from the freezer 20-30 minutes before serving and use a warm scoop to roll or simply scrape out chunks of ice cream to serve. Top with toasted coconut flakes or dairy-free chocolate sauce for a real treat!
If you don't have a ice cream machine pour the mixture into a shallow freezer-proof container (a loaf tin is perfect), freeze for 1 hour until the edges are starting to freeze, beat with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Return to the freezer and repeat this another 2-3 times before leaving to freeze for 2 hours. The results won't be quite the same, but still delicious!