Joyful Almond

I once had a brief conversation with a former co-worker who informed me that he just didn’t think homemade ice cream could be worth the trouble or that it could possibly taste as good as what you can get at the store.  The conversation was brief because this statement made me think he was an idiot lacking taste but in hind sight there was a valid point in there about time and effort verses grocery store convenience.    There are some good brand out there so why make your own?

Well here are three reasons to make your own ice cream and one recipe to prove it.

1. I have yet to come across a dairy-free brand of ice cream that comes even close to this recipe.  Problem number one is that if you want creamy but dairy-free (or vegan), you are presented with rice or soy ice cream.  And while I want to like them, they often lack that mouth-feel that cream gives you in ice cream.  Rice and soy are often grainy in texture as well.

2.  There are brand out there who use only coconut milk or cream, the basis for my recipe below but I do have another point of contention and this holds true for rice, soy, coconut and even dairy commercial brands.  Sugar.  They use far too much sweetener and the actual flavors get lost.

3.  And here we come to the third point.  Flavors.  When you make your own ice cream, you control the flavors.  You control the quality of chocolate, the amount of sugar, you toast the almonds to bring out the nuttiness and you use the best local berries or fruit at the peak of their season.

The below ice cream tastes wonderful and if you use a mild coconut cream (I use Kara brand – it doesn’t have an overpowering coconut taste like some other brands can) and good chocolate, you’ll mostly taste chocolate.  I fed this to a houseful of non-vegan, dairy-happy folks and everyone loved it.  My coconut-wary, dairy-happy and chocolate-loving husband informed me that it was like eating a candy bar.

Chocolate Coconut Toasted Almond Ice Cream (Joyful Almond)
1 c toasted and chopped blanched almonds (I used slivers but I imagine it’d be awesome with slices)
8 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate (use a good quality chocolate since you’ll really taste it here- I like Trader Joe’s huge Belgium bars or Scharffen Berger brand)
1 small can coconut milk (5.something fl oz – about a cup)
2 c coconut cream (unsweetened and natural – watch the ingredients list!)
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
pinch of salt

Heat coconut milk, sugar and salt until hot.  Add this to the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.  Stir in coconut cream and extract if using.  Cool and then chill in the fridge.

Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker.  At the end or when it is churned (this totally depends on the type of ice cream maker you have), stir in the chopped almonds.  Put in freezer until set.  Eat and think of candy bars!

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