Friday, March 9, 2012

Cookies n Cream Ice Cream

Ever since I eliminated dairy from my diet, I have been trying to find a great dairy free ice cream alternative. I've tried soy based ice creams (expensive and so nasty), Toffuti (hard to find and expensive, but pretty good) and rice cream (ick), but they all made me long for something that didn't leave a horrible aftertaste in my mouth and a dent in my wallet. When it came time to register for wedding gifts two years ago, I knew that an ice cream machine had to be on there. Luckily when we opened our gifts, someone generously gave us one. Four days after our wedding I made my first batch of ice cream and I've been going strong ever since!

I have experimented with many different recipe variations in the two years since getting my ice cream machine. I tried the recipe that came with the Cuisinart machine, ones from online, a great one from Cooks Illustrated, but they were all written to be made with milk and real cream. Substituting soy milk for all of the dairy simply didn't make a rich and creamy ice cream. It often froze to a solid chunk of ice, and although that was delicious, it just wasn't right. One thing that didn't change through my experiments was to whip eggs yolks with sugar to help add thickness to the ice cream. The addition of egg yolks is very important in creating a creamy ice cream base. I also add two and a half tablespoons of corn starch to help thicken the base even more. By researching the ingredients of readily available ice creams, I noticed that almost all of them had a thickening ingredient added. Since I wasn't going to go buy xantham gum, I decided to try the only thickener I had in my house, corn starch, and was pleased with the results.

After many recipes I found that a mixture of coconut milk and almond milk made for an ice cream that didn't have a weird colour or aftertaste. The coconut milk adds enough fat to keep the ice cream from freezing into a solid chunk and it is also pretty mild, so the ice cream doesn't taste like coconuts.

I've made this ice cream recipe many times and I've been able to turn this ice cream base into many different variations. From this one base I have made chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, mint chocolate chip, mint fudgeeo, vanilla chocolate chip, moose tracks, toffee crunch and candy cane (a holiday favourite!). I will be posting these recipes as I make them throughout the year.

Below is a recipe for a vanilla base that I add crushed Oreos to to make Cookies n Cream ice cream. Oreos are dairy free in Canada (not sure about the U.S), so I can happily make Cookies n Cream, which was one of my favourite flavours as a kid. Making your own ice cream allows you to add as many cookies as you'd like. Nothing is worse than having a scoop of Cookies n Cream and not getting a good chunk of cookie!

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can put the cooled ice cream base into a container and place it in the freezer and stir it every half hour until you get the consistency you desire. I'm not sure how long this recipe will keep, since it doesn't seem to last in our house more than two days! This is the first recipe that I can say is entirely my own!
1 1/2 cups almond milk (regular or unsweetened)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or 1 regular sized can)
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out using the back of a knife
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 Oreo cookies, crushed.
1. In a medium bowl, whip egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar with a whisk until light yellow (think the colour of margarine or butter). Set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan, combine almond milk, coconut milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, corn starch, vanilla bean and vanilla seeds.
3. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it reaches 175 F, or until steam rises from the surface, stirring frequently. Do not allow to boil.
4. Once the mixture reaches 175F, remove from heat. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the eggs to temper it. Repeat this until half of the milk mixture has been incorporated into the eggs.
5. Place the pot over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. Stir continuously until the mixture reaches 180-185F. Do not let it boil, as this will cause it to curdle.
6. Pour the ice cream base through a fine mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl.
7. Allow the base to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or in the freezer for 2 hours.
8. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour the base in an ice cream maker and follow the machine's directions.
9. During the last 5 minutes of mixing, add the cookie chunks. If your machine can't handle solid chunks, stir by hand. The mixture will resemble soft serve at this point.
10. Scoop ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least two hours.
11. Enjoy ice cream like you did before without the horrible feeling afterwards!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Banana Bread

After a long and unnecessary (re: lazy) hiatus from posting, I am back with a new light set up and new recipes! I have been experimenting with lots of ice cream recipes lately, and I'm excited to post them for all those who cannot stomach regular ice cream!
The banana bread recipe that I am using is the one that my family has been making forever. It comes from an old food processor cookbook and it is different from most recipes that I've seen. It's pretty simple to make and it is all made in the food processor, so it is easy to clean up afterwards. The recipe is baked in a low oven for a long time, which is torture since your house is filled with the yummy smell of banana bread for hours before you can eat it! To make this recipe dairy free I use almond milk soured with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to simulate buttermilk or soured milk. This works very well, but I find that it makes the bread spill over the top of the loaf pan, so bake it on a sheet pan to save yourself from cleaning baked on bread from the bottom of your oven.
This recipe makes one loaf and it freezes very well.
3 medium, ripe bananas
1 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking soda
dash of salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup soured almond milk.
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
2. Process banana until pureed, 15-20 seconds.
3. Add sugar, salt and baking soda and process for 30 seconds.
4. Add eggs and oil and process until blended, about 10 seconds.
5. Pour flour over banana mixture and then add soured almond milk. Process until smooth, 8-10 seconds.
6. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, or until tooth pick comes out clean.