The best ever vegan cashew and coconut based ice-cream (in my humble opinion anyway). This is a maple and lavender version to celebrate the spring season and to riff on a previous favourite ice-cream flavour from David Leibovitz and his cookbook ‘The Perfect Scoop’. It’s refined sugar free and gluten free, so everyone can enjoy this rich and creamy ice-cream.
“Forget art. Put your trust in ice cream.” ― Charles Baxter
Today I am tired. So very tired. All of this Spring fevering has worn me down and now I just want to sleep for a decade or so. I’m having trouble writing sentences, so thankfully I have extra photos to tell my story today (feat. the best child model ever – my little bro). And a kick ass ice-cream recipe, one that has taken me about a year to perfect.
I started working on this recipe back before I even went vegan. Back when the lactose intolerant part of me could not deal with the sheer amount of dairy that the ice-cream loving part of me kept insisting upon. Sigh. The best of times, the worst of times. Now though, I can eat a whole barrel of ice-cream and not feel sick! Not that I do this…ahem.
Honestly though, not to toot my own horn, but this ice-cream is amazing. A LOT of love and tears have gone into this recipe, and too many nights to count spent on the kitchen floor eating a container full of sub-par ice-cream, hoping with each icy mouthful that the next bite will magically be better than the last. This never worked for me, though I’m not sure why? *scratches head*. It did remove any evidence of my not-so-great ice-cream though and gave me a hell of a stomach ache. So that’s something.
Anyhow I’m rambling. Back to the GOOD ice-cream. This is the creamiest ice-cream I have ever made and it is so full of flavour it’s almost ridiculous. It makes my taste buds oh so happy. I worked on perfecting a basic vanilla bean cashew ice-cream at first, the flavour that I always used to make at home (pre-vegan) to sit in big creamy, melty scoops atop of any warm baked good. Pies, crumbles, cookies, brownies, galettes. Everything. Anything.
My favourite recipe used to be David Lebovitz’s vanilla bean (custard based) ice-cream from his bible/cookbook ‘The Perfect Scoop’. Once I’d successfully veganised that though, I turned to my other favourite flavour from his book: the honey & lavender ice-cream.
I used to make this almost as often as the vanilla bean, it sat happily with so many desserts & was flavourful enough to stand on its own, single (or double, triple?) scoop and a cone, nothing more. Fruit pies sang (blueberry in particular) and rich, dark chocolate tarts hummed when paired with this delicately floral ice-cream. I was lost without it in vegan land. Enter MAPLE SYRUP & lavender.
The maple here is stronger in flavour than David’s soft, honeyed version. You could always reduce the maple and replace it with an equal amount of regular sugar (and probably do the same with the caramelly coconut sugar now I’m thinking on it), if you’d like a softer flavoured ice-cream that will sit well with an assortment of baked things, as David’s version does.
However, I was blown away by the complexity of the caramel flavour of this ice-cream when I first made it and I’m completely in love with it. It tastes like salted caramel that has just been caught before it’s starting to burn, when it’s a deep shade of amber and you high-five your self for catching it at just the perfect moment. It tastes like sticky date pudding (so says my friend Elin, and I 100% agree), rich & dripping with golden butterscotch sauce. If you like any kind of caramelly flavoured thing, then, friend, I welcome you to heaven.
Initially I added the coconut sugar, in place of raw granulated, simply to avoid using a more refined sugar, but actually it adds to much depth to the ice-cream. Do yourself a favour and use a dark coloured maple here if you are looking for a complex mapley, caramelly flavour; the ice-cream benefits so much from it. The lavender adds the most beautiful floral note and it just feels like you have eaten a little part of Spring. It adds brightness and life to anything it touches – it’s perfect here.
I think I’ve talked about ice-cream enough now (Is that really possible though?!). I could go on to explain my recipe in greater detail, but I don’t know that it needs it. It’s enough to say that I have tested and tested and re-retested this recipe with a gazillion different techniques/ingredients/ratios and that this one is finally perfect. I would not have shared it otherwise, I know the frustration of sad ice-cream when all you want is a bowl of creamy, frozen perfection. Ice-cream is serious business after all; the stuff childhood and adult dreams are made of.
Every ingredient and step is there for a reason, follow the recipe and you will be all set, sitting cheerily with a bowl of some of the best vegan ice-cream. There will be many more flavours to come this Spring/Summer based around the same recipe and any suggestions are very welcome!
Vegan Maple + Lavender Cashew Ice-Cream
Yield 1 litre
vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free
Flavour combo inspired by David Lebovitz's Honey & Lavender ice-cream from his book, 'The Perfect Scoop'. Cashew ice-cream base inspired by & adapted over time from multiple recipes including Van Leuuwen's ice-cream cookbook, Minimalist Baker & Serious Eats.
- 1/2 c dark maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. dried or fresh lavender buds
- 3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked overnight in water
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 5 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. refined coconut oil (you can used unrefined however it will have a more pronounced coconut flavour)
- 3/4 cup canned coconut cream (refrigerate can of coconut milk or cream overnight, scoop the thick bit off the top to use in this recipe, leave watery part behind)
- 1/2 tsp. flaky sea salt or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. dried or fresh lavender buds
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
- Gently heat the maple syrup with the 2 Tbsp lavender in a small saucepan. Once warm, remove from heat, cover with a lid & let infuse for 1 hour. Strain out the lavender & set the maple aside.
- Drain the soaked cashews & transfer to a blender with 1 cup water; purée until completely smooth.
- Combine the coconut sugar & 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the coconut oil, coconut cream & salt.
- Heat until the mix begins to simmer & the salt is dissolved, then remove from the heat & add to the blender with the cashew cream. Blend on high for 1 minute (this simmering & blending step is important to avoid a grainy texture from the coconut cream).
- Add the lavender infused maple, 1 tsp lavender buds, vanilla extract & xanthan gum to the blender, then blend on high again for 1–2 minutes until smooth & well blended. Pour into a medium mixing bowl & sit the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with a little ice & water. Stir the mix over the ice bath until cool & then refrigerate until completely chilled (preferably overnight).
- Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn until the ice-cream is thick & has a soft-serve consistency, my cuisinart ice-cream maker takes about 20 minutes to churn. Quickly transfer to an airtight storage container & freeze until set, at least 4 hours (or eat at soft-serve consistency if you prefer!). The ice cream will keep, frozen, for up to 1 week (it will freeze for longer than this however homemade ice-cream becomes icy quite quickly, it really is best eaten in the first 1–2 days!).