Of course the obvious question on our minds was: what to make first? So many endless possibilities before us (not to mention that I've been dying to find the perfect coffee ice cream and have still come up short) and so many fresh ingredients available from herbs to fruits, nuts, chocolate chips. But remembering that half of our cute family is attempting to fully avoid dairy for the time being (not it), I decided to go with something we could both enjoy: a vegan version of pumpkin ice cream.
Vegan? Ice cream? I know. I KNOW. It's totally insane and totally nonsensical, and yet, all the times I've encountered such a rare treat I've thought: this is so good. Too good, almost. Good enough to make me unaware that I'm eating a bowlful of something completely cream, milk and egg-free. It can be done, people. It can be done.
The possibilities on how it can be done are surprisingly pretty varied. From coconut, nuts, rice milk, frozen bananas and even avocados, there are a number of ways to achieve a creamy "ice-cream-ish" texture without the traditional ice cream base. For this particular attempt, inspired by Post Punk Kitchen (a completely vegan blog and now cookbook 100% worth checking out) the base was rooted in puréed cashews and rice milk. For the rest of the ingredients, see below:
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup of unsweetened rice milk
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Note that this is a recipe best done when you've got a day to spend at home, maybe on the weekend, since there are a few steps that take a little bit of patience. To begin set a medium size pot on the stove and bring about 4 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add your cashews and allow to boil for thirty minutes. Check the water often to make sure it doesn't get to low/disappear entirely, as it did for me in about fifteen or so minutes. You also might notice a rather interesting lilac purple color develop on your cashews during their steam: don't worry. Though I initially had no idea what was happening, a quick online research session assured me that this was 1. totally normal and 2. the purple stuff would rinse right off. Which it did. Whew. Carrying on.
Drain your cashews and add them to a blender or food processor. Blend until as fine as possible, which should happen in about a minute. Add the remainder of the ingredients and blend/pulse until smooth, about three minutes. Don't stop the blender before this time is up: the mixture will appear smooth, but the cashews or sugar still take a little while to break down. Cover the base tightly and refrigerate for about an hour or until completely chilled.
Now comes the fun part. The part with the ice cream mixer attachment! Or, any ice cream maker you have will do, I think. In fact, yes, any is fine. (Isa of Post Punk Kitchen is head over heels for her Breville Smart Scoop, though I'm going to go ahead and stay partial to this guy.) If you're using the KitchenAid version too, continue to follow the recipe ahead. If not, follow the instructions included with your particular appliance and cross your fingers for spectacular results.
Get your mixer churning using the "Stir" setting. It's important to get the motion started first to avoid completely freezing your mixture before the paddle gets going. Slowly pour in your ice cream base (this will be messy, but hey, that's half the fun) and allow to churn for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too hard and slow down the machine. Note: not a huge issue with the vegan varieties, as the dairy-based ice creams tend to freeze up a lot faster. Still, not a bad idea to stay nearby, if for no other reason than watching the process can be pretty darn cool ... get it? I know, I hate myself, too.
Once this process is complete, and if you can stand to wait any longer, place your ice cream in a freezer safe container, seal tightly and freeze for 24 hours. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS? ISA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO US. Someone out there seriously has a crossed wire about my level of willpower and restraint. I made it about 45 minutes before I had a taste and ohhh my goodness. Full of flavor, super pumpkin-y and somehow, magically creamy.
Next time, maybe salted caramel pretzel ice cream. Or classic mint chocolate chip: Made it! Go here! Or coffee gelato. Vegan-schmegan. I just may go ice cream crazy.