Vegan Mixed Berry “Ice Cream” (#60-D/E)

12 07 2013

Apologies!  I realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a new recipe.  But now that we’re into July and there’s nothing in the forecast but sunshine, it’s definitely time to kick up ice cream consumption into high gear.

Environment Canada weather forescast

Nothing but sunshine in Vancouver’s summer weather forecast!

There’s nothing better than a huge bowl of creamy goodness when it’s 27 degrees out.  Except if you have a dairy or egg allergy or if you are vegan.

That’s where alternative frozen treats come in.  Walk into any grocery store and dairy-free and egg-free options abound — there’s rice milk ice cream, nut milk ice cream, soy milk ice cream, and coconut milk ice cream.  But personally, I’ve been pretty disappointed with alternative ice creams.  The taste seems artificial and the texture far too gummy.  And brands that pass the taste and texture test are usually pretty pricey, up to $9.00 a pint.  Solution?  Make your own, of course!

There are two routes for making dairy-free/egg-free/vegan ice cream at home:

  1. Use a non-dairy milk as the base (e.g. rice, nut, soy, or coconut milk)
  2. Use frozen banana as the base.

I’ve explored the first option (check out my recipes for Banana Bread Ice Cream, which has the option of using soy milk, and Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream, which uses both soy and coconut milk), so I figured it’s time to start exploring the latter.  The method is super simple and you don’t even need to have an ice cream maker!  For this particular recipe, it was just a matter of whirling up frozen, ripe bananas and mixed berries.  Done.  Ripe bananas are so sweet that you don’t even need to add any extra sugar, which is a bonus.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Vegan Mixed Berry Ice Cream (Makes about 1 L)

4 very ripe bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen overnight
2 cups of mixed berries, frozen overnight (I used a combination of blueberries and strawberries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vodka

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Huffington Post’s and 52 Scoops’ Best Summer Ice Cream Flavours – Top Picks for 2013

15 06 2013

The Huffington Post recently posted its editors’ top 10 picks for best summer ice cream flavours.  With the exception of one pint of Ben & Jerry’s, all others were small-batch, artisanal companies.  The line up of flavours looks AMAZING.  But the trouble is you might have a hard time finding these brands in your local supermarket.  And even though several companies offer online sales, I doubt many of you will actually do that.

So what do you do if you have your heart set on one of these gourmet ice cream flavours and you can’t find it locally?  You make your own, of course!  That’s the beauty of having your own ice cream maker.

Here’s the line-up of Huff Post’s Top 10 picks, paired with a 52 Scoops recipe that might do the trick when that ice cream craving hits.

#1 Craving Coffee?

cinnamon coffee ice cream

Huff Post’s #1:  Steve’s Cold Brewed Cinnamon Coffee Ice Cream (Photo Credit: Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post)

The Official Taster says: "This is perfect for my coffee addiction!"

The Official Taster says: “Try 52 Scoops’ Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

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#2 Want a Hit of Cinnamon?

Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream

Huff Post’s #2: Snoqualmie’s Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream (Photo Credit: Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post)

Oatmeal Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches

The Official Taster says: “Make Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches!  Or, just make the ice cream.”

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#3 Need a Pucker?

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, lemon curd ice cream

Huff Post’s #3: Jeni’s Juniper & Lemon Curd Ice Cream (Photo Credit: Damon Dahlen/The Huffington Post)

Lemon ricotta ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Pucker up with Lemon Ricotta Ice Cream!

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Wild Blackberry Ice Cream (#25)

30 08 2012

I have a secret berry patch near my work.  Over the past few weeks during my lunch hour, I would head down the street, around the corner, and then along a country lane.  At the end, I would find a tangly mess of thorny bushes loaded with sun-warmed berries.

country lane

A lunch hour stroll along a country lane…

blackberry bushes

Wild blackberries galore!

I am never prepared for berry picking.  Protective long-sleeved top and long pants?  No.  Sturdy shoes for stepping on and over thorny branches?  No.  Heavy duty gardening gloves, mega garden shears, and a stack of plastic buckets?  No, no, no.  Office clothes, open-toe shoes, and two pint-sized Ziploc bags tucked in my back pocket?  Why, yes!  That’s me.  But so far, I’ve emerged from the bushes unscathed (except for the odd little scratch here and there), and my clothes are still free of berry stains.

As with Week #19’s Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, this recipe requires the berries to be pureed and strained of its seeds, which are full of bitter tannins.  The puree is then gently simmered until its volume is reduced by one-half, reducing its water content and intensifying the sweet blackberry flavour.  Enjoy the last days of summer with some berry picking and this simple, four-ingredient ice cream recipe!

Wild Blackberry Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained blackberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
3 cups half-and-half cream

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Pour the puree into a saucepan.  Bring the puree to a simmer over medium heat and let the puree reduce in volume by one-half, stirring occasionally.  This should take 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When cool, whisk in the blackberry puree.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
blackberry ice cream

The Official Taster says: “The North Shore black bears would love this!”





Caramelized Apricot and Brandy Ice Cream (#24)

23 08 2012

The Official Taster has declared that he gets extra ice cream this week — payback for when I bashed him in the leg with my unicycle.  I’ve been trying to learn to ride a unicycle for quite some time now, and I really ought to stop practicing in the hallway as I’m waiting for the elevator.  Last week I almost accidentally pulled the fire alarm when I tried to steady myself.  This week, the unicycle slipped from underneath me and went flying into the O.T.’s legs.  Big bruise and a scratch.  Ooops.  But an extra large bowl of ice cream can fix that.

Apricots are the star of the show this week.  With soft, velvety skins, apricots also rank quite highly on the Fruit Cuteness scale, just behind the soft and fuzzy peaches that were featured in last week’s light, airy Peaches and Cream Ice Cream.

fresh apricots

Fresh BC apricots basking in the sunshine on Commercial Drive

This week’s ice cream recipe involves more complex flavours: deeply caramelized apricots, warming brandy, and toasted almonds.  There’s a hint of fall just around the corner.

When preparing the apricots, be sure to cook the butter and sugar until the mixture turns a light caramel colour before adding the apricots.  That way, you will achieve a deep amber colour and caramel-ly taste.  During the first round in the test kitchen, I made the mistake of combining the butter, sugar, and apricots in the pan all at once.  Because of the high water content in the apricots, the mixture never caramelized, and what I ended up with was a bright orange apricot compote — sweet and delicious, but not quite what I wanted.  I also mixed 1/2 cup of chopped and toasted almonds into the ice cream, but the texture of the nuts seemed a bit too coarse when paired with the soft, brandy-infused apricots.  I would suggest garnishing the ice cream with toasted sliced almonds instead, as these have a much lighter texture.

Caramelized Apricot and Brandy Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream: (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons brandy
Toasted sliced almonds (optional garnish)

Caramelized Apricots:

2 1/2 cups chopped apricots
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon brandy

For the Ice Cream:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  2. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.  Stir in the brandy.
  5. Chill overnight in the fridge.

For the Caramelized Apricots:

  1. While the ice cream is chilling, prepare the caramelized apricots.
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Swirl occasionally and let the mixture turn a light caramel colour, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped apricots.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots turn a gorgeous dark caramel colour.   This should take another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.
  5. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.

To Finish

  1. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the final stages of churning, add the caramelized apricots and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.
  3. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds if desired.
caramelized apricot and brandy ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Payback tastes GOOD.”





Peaches and Cream Ice Cream (#23)

17 08 2012

I’m itching for September!  September usually means a weekend getaway with my parents and my sister to the Okanagan and Similkameen for some wine tasting, a couple of decadent winery brunches and dinners, and, of course, a mandatory stop at the roadside produce stands in Keremeos to buy freshly harvested fruits and veggies.  Peaches.  I’m always after peaches.

Peaches are one of my favourite summertime fruits.  They’re juicy, sweet, and oh so enjoyable on their own.  They’re also rather versatile in the kitchen, making their way into salsas and sauces, jams and chutneys, and desserts.  And then there’s the cuteness factor — how many fruits out there are soft and fuzzy?!  Our trip this year is still a few weeks away, so in the meantime, I’ve been buying pounds and pounds of peaches from my local produce shop.

ripe peaches

Cute, aren’t they?

Peaches and cream are a classic flavour combination, and this simple ice cream recipe is intended to let those soft, delicate flavours shine — no caramelizing or grilling the fruit, no boozy additions, no nutty bits and pieces.  (I’m saving all of that for next week!)  If you are chilling the ice cream for more than a few hours, be sure to let it warm up and soften slightly before scooping and enjoying.  That way, you’ll really taste the flavour of the peaches.

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

4 ripe peaches (or enough to yield 2 1/2 cups of puree)
Juice of one lemon
2 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup white sugar (depends on how sweet your peaches are; adjust to taste)
3 cups half-and-half cream
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Peel and pit the peaches.  Place the peaches and the lemon juice into a blender and puree until smooth.  You should have 2 1/2 cups of silky peach puree.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  3. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  5. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  6. When cool, whisk in the peach puree and the vanilla.
  7. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
peaches and cream ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Refreshing!”





Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream (#20)

26 07 2012

I was hoping to get this post up earlier, but I ran into some technical difficulties a couple of days ago: I discovered that my Donvier Chillfast cylinder, which I normally store in the freezer, wasn’t frozen solid and icy cold, but was melty and sloshing around!  How could that be?!  I had turned down the freezer to its coldest setting the night before to make sure the cylinder would be as cold as possible.  Was my freezer on the fritz?  The cylinder itself?  Luckily, it was neither.  It turned out that the Official Taster was in a pinch to quickly chill two kegs of beer and had grabbed the Chillfast cylinder and submerged it in a tubful of water, along with the kegs and a couple bags of ice cubes.  Official Taster, you owe me some extra dish washing for thisSurely the ice cubes alone would have been sufficient!  So, this set me back half a day while I re-froze the cylinder.  On the upside though, my custard had some extra time to “age” in the fridge.

Week #20’s flavour came to me when I was shopping at my local produce store.  Blueberries!  Only $1.89/lb!  That’s about as cheap as U-pick, with all the picking done for you!  Blueberries pair well with so many different flavours – cinnamon, cardamom, basil, thyme, orange, and lemon to name a few.  I had a hard time deciding between blueberry-basil and blueberry-lemon, so I figured I’d develop an ice cream recipe containing all three.  So here we have Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream: blueberry compote infused with lemon and basil, dolloped between layers of lemon basil ice cream.

jar of blueberry compote

The blueberry compote, along with a big spoonful of ricotta cheese, would be a great topping for waffles!

Alternating layers of ice cream with random dollops of compote creates a marbled effect that allows the creamy yellow colour of the ice cream to be retained.  Marbling also lets you enjoy the subtle flavours of the lemon basil ice cream on its own as well as with the occasional mouthful of blueberry goodness.  Another option is to swirl the blueberry compote into the ice cream in the final stages of churning, similar to Week 13’s Rhubarb Ginger Ice Cream and Week 16’s Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream.  This would result in a purple-blue ice cream with berries evenly distributed throughout.  Either way, Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream makes for a perfect summer treat!

blueberry lemon basil ice cream

Blueberry compote marbled into lemon basil ice cream.

Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups half-and-half cream

Blueberry Compote (makes about 1.5 cups)

2 1/2 cups of blueberries, divided
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

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Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (#19-E)

19 07 2012

Since I come from a family that LOVES food and cooking, I started playing around in the kitchen at quite an early age.  One of my earliest memories of “baking” was mixing together random amounts of butter, flour, milk, and baking powder, forming a few crude biscuits, popping them in the oven (a REAL oven, not an Easy Bake), and excitedly offering them to my dad when he came home from work.  And yes, he ate them (thanks Dad!)… even though I’m sure they were dense little pucks with a flakiness rating of zero.  Luckily, with some guidance from my parents, my baking skills steadily progressed and by grade 6, I could make some pretty mean cheesecakes — double chocolate, pumpkin, citrus, rocky road, and raspberry to name a few.  Raspberry cheesecake was probably my favourite.  With raspberry season in full swing, I thought it’d be the perfect time to reinvent one of my favourite childhood desserts into an egg-free ice cream recipe.

fresh raspberries

Fresh raspberries at Granville Island Market

Raspberries might look sweet and delicate, but they have surprisingly bitter seeds.  For this recipe, be sure to strain out the seeds from the raspberry puree.  I admit I had a moment of laziness in the test kitchen.  I neglected this step and used 2 cups of raspberry puree that included seeds.  The resultant ice cream was okay but it seemed to lack berry flavour and had somewhat of a bitter aftertaste.  I was more diligent during Round #2 of testing, whirling the berries in a blender at low speed to break them up, and then pressing the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  I realized I needed almost twice as many berries than I had previously used in order to get two cups of seedless puree — half the volume of the berry puree was, in fact, those pesky bitter seeds!  This explained the lacklustre, tannic flavour of the first batch of ice cream.  So I will emphasize again: strain out the seeds for ultra berry-liciousness!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is absolutely perfect for summer — sweet, tangy, refreshing, and PINK!  Enjoy and eat often!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained raspberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
250 g cream cheese, softened
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
2 cups half-and-half cream
Graham cracker crumbs for garnish (optional)

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Place the cream cheese in the (now empty) blender.  Add half of the raspberry puree and blend at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the remaining raspberry puree and blend some more.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. If desired, garnish with graham cracker crumbs.
bowl of raspberry cheesecake ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Should I say something cheesy?”








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