vegan thyme-lime ice cream


Okay, so this ice cream recipe was inspired by my favorite ice cream place of all time, The Bent Spoon in Princeton, New Jersey. I'm inspired flavor-wise (and I guess life-wise) pretty much every time I go there (ricotta ice cream and rhubarb sorbet combo, anyone?), but one particular evening we decided to brave the long line (perhaps the only excessive line that I can say with complete sincerity is totally worth the wait) before seeing a movie. I got bananas foster (good) and ... thyme lime: GREAT. INSANITY IN A CONE.

Now, I know bananas foster and thyme lime don't sound like the smartest combo together, but Bent Spoon has never, no, not ever, done me wrong no matter what I choose. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

For as many amazing flavors that I've had there, and there have been many, thyme lime was definitely one of the most unique and most memorable. They do a lot of fresh herb flavors in the summertime (basil ice cream? with raspberry sorbet? hold me now), but I never ventured into the thyme side of things - I do admit to feeling mildly hesitant. That is, until the very first bite. The thyme was a light, fresh hint of flavor, and the burst of crazy-lime goodness paired so great with the traditional ice cream base. I originally assumed this would be better as a sorbet, but once I tried it, I immediately reformed. SO good.

I knew I had to recreate this flavor for this guy. Livin' that dairy free life ain't easy, and I knew that he would really love this one, so I went back to my coconut milk ice cream making roots and came up with the following recipe.

You will need:

2 15-ounce cans of coconut milk (1 full fat, 1 light)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 of fresh lime juice, strained
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium-large bunch fresh thyme, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot

Start by adding your coconut milk, sugar, lime juice and vanilla extract to a medium stockpot over medium heat. Whisk together until the sugar has melted (or no longer feels gritty), then add your thyme. Spoon out a few tablespoons of your warm base into a small bowl. Stir in your arrowroot until smooth. Bring your mixture to a gentle, barely-there simmer, whisk in your arrowroot mixture and then remove your stockpot from the heat. Cover and let sit for one hour. This is so that the thyme flavor can get seriously infused. If you're looking for a gentler first taste, start with steeping for 30 minutes and then taste your mixture. The intensity will also depend on the freshness of your thyme and the size bunch you decide to use. Of course, when I say "intensity" I don't mean to scare you off. The flavor is fresh and bright, but also a bit unexpected in a wonderful way.

After you've achieved the right dose of thyme flavor for your palette, transfer your mixture to a medium sized bowl and refrigerate for four hours or up to overnight. Once completely chilled, transfer to your ice cream maker of choice and churn until airy and about doubled in size. Which is totally fun to watch happen, by the way.

Transfer to a freezer safe container and put in the back of your freezer until completely firm.

I really, really liked how this came out. So very close to the original, and even with the same creaminess despite having no dairy at all. It almost tastes like an herbaceous key lime pie, minus the graham cracker. So what I'm saying is: next time, toasted graham cracker crumbs on top?! Add thyme in your key lime pie? It would all work. Seriously: trust The Bent Spoon.