vegan mint cookies + creme ice cream


Alright: in this household, we're not really ones to go ga-ga crazy once all the seasonal items start hitting the shelves. I once saw a gentleman in Trader Joe's with an entire cart full of one type of chocolate truffles. I've rolled my eyes at the hordes of crazy-eyes people holding pumpkin-spice nonsense in mid-August.

Oh, please, I'd think to myself. Isn't everyone just going nuts because it (whatever it is) is dressed up in festive packaging with a smiling reindeer and a bow on top?

Maybe. And then we discovered candy cane sandwich creme cookies from Whole Foods. These are not the harsh toothpaste-like Oreos you had when you were a kid. And while there's not a single virtuous thing about them nutritionally, the fact is they taste like the best chocolate-peppermint combo you've ever had in your life, only better. Times a million, forever.

We waited until a respectable time of year to buy four boxes at once (I believe sometime in mid-October) and I have since been scheming for the right way (thought could there be a wrong way?) to incorporate these naturally-vegan treats into a seasonal frozen treat.  So I thought, why not kick up the mint madness another notch and make a mint take on the classic cookies and cream?

Yes, I am a genius. Sure, this flavor's been done before. They all have, right? But vegan? Has it been vegan? Maybe. Probably. But have the cookies themselves also been mint? HAVE THEY?

Okay, yes, probably that, too. Either way, for this recipe you will need:

2 15-ounce cans of coconut milk (1 full fat, 1 light)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 medium-large bunch mint leaves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
1-2 cups, depending on your preference, of candy cane sandwich cremes (or your cookie of choice), crushed or chopped

Start by adding your coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to a medium stockpot over medium heat. Whisk together until the sugar has melted (or no longer feels gritty). Remove your mint leaves from the stem (any mint variety will do; I went with spearmint) and add to the mixture on the stovetop.

Spoon out a few tablespoons of your warm base into a separate 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. During this hour, the mint flavor should get deeply infused in the base. After an hour, taste the base and see if the flavor is present enough for your taste.

After you've achieved the right dose of mint flavor for your palette, transfer your mixture to a medium sized bowl and refrigerate for four hours or up to overnight. I actually ended up leaving my mint in the mixture while it chilled. It will start to steep less as the mixture cools down, but the subtly of the spearmint prompted me to go for a longer steeping time. 

Once completely chilled, strain out the mint leaves and 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.

After your base has churned (it will take about 20-30 minutes to achieve the right texture), transfer to a freezer safe container. Between layers, sprinkle in your crushed cookies and fold together, repeating as you continue to add more of your ice cream or until all of the cookie bits have been added. Put back in the back of your freezer until completely firm, about four hours or up to overnight.

Serve and enjoy for a perfectly cool, refreshing and dairy-free winter-y dessert: brr!