Hi friends, I write this post with a heart filled with heaviness and sadness, yet also filled with so much love. I so badly want to talk about this vegan mint chip ice cream that is amazingly delicious, creamy, and that doesn’t taste like it’s vegan one bit. And we will get to all of that in a moment but first I must speak what’s in my heart.
I am not usually one to publicly share my opinions on what’s happening in the world, or to even share my grief. I prefer to look at the brighter side of things and do my best to bring a little extra joy in the world. But sometimes that’s not how life goes and sometimes I need to let flow what’s inside of me otherwise it feels forced and fake and I know you can feel that too.
Almost a week ago from the day that I am writing this (8/17/17) something terrible and hateful happened in Charlottsville Virginia – I won’t go into the details of it because you all can read the news. The tragedy of hate and violence took over and that’s not okay. I am baffled that there are people act this way – it literally makes my heart hurt. I don’t want to get into my views or opinions about it all – I only want to tell you that it’s okay to be sad and scared about all of this. BUT at the same time we need to feel the love, the joy, and the happiness that’s always around us. Find the little things in life and be grateful for them, like delicious ice cream, or the green grass, a purring kitten, a hug from a loved one. Friends, we must keep that love, that joy strong no matter how hard it is, we must share it with the world. Because THAT is what keeps love stronger than hate. Keep shining your light by doing whatever it is that you do.
Not only has this tragedy of Charlottesville hit me hard, but this morning I found out Paul’s Aunt passed away the night before and that my mom’s cat that I’ve known since college had to be put to sleep this morning. With all of this sadness I couldn’t fake that I was super excited and happy to write this post today. Instead, I decided to embrace it. Of course I don’t want to bring you down with me, but at the same time I was a writer before I was a recipe creator or a food photographer – it’s how I worked through difficult things most of my life – I hope to somehow help to bring comfort and maybe a little peace in that process by sharing this with you.
And through all of this writing about vegan mint chip ice cream seems pointless. What good am I even doing right now? The truth is that making healthier desserts to share with you – ones that almost anyone with almost any allergy can enjoy is how I shine my light. It’s my way of spreading a little good, a little joy and love in the world. To me, that is making an impact – it is one that is worth getting up in the morning with a smile on my face.
In a lot of ways it is right that this vegan mint chip ice cream is the recipe I am sharing today because ice cream is the food we often turn to when we need a little extra pick me up – or at least I do. I can’t change the circle of life, how the world works, or that some people are filled with hate – but I can make a really delicious, slightly healthier vegan mint chip ice cream and share with with you here on the blog. As small as that is it has to be worth something. This mint chip ice cream is my way of giving a hug to anyone and everyone needing it today. My only hope is that you pass it along.
It’s hard to make the decision to be true to what’s in my heart right now, it’s easier to pretend to be 100% happy – but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right. Either way I do want to tell you all about this vegan mint chip ice cream and how amazing it is.
Whenever I make ice cream I prefer to make it vegan, because if I can make it taste as good as traditional dairy ice cream then why the heck not?! Besides why not enjoy a healthier dessert that’s made from ingredients that come from the earth? (<- vegan wanna be right here!). Besides this way anyone who is sensitive to dairy can enjoy a little ice cream.
My favorite part about this vegan mint chip ice cream is that beautiful, light green color was not achieved by using chemical food dyes. Nope, my friends, we made it using spinach blended with water! I mean how amazing is food that we can make non toxic dyes just like that?! That kind of thing truly makes me happy!
Don’t worry, you can’t taste the spinach at all. We actually strain the pulp out so we only have spinach water and there is such a little amount that you won’t taste that spinach one bit. Of course this step is totally optional – probably I wouldn’t bother when making this vegan mint chip ice cream for just me. BUT it is fun to dye food with plants, don’t you agree?!
Mint chip ice cream is one of my favorite ice cream flavors – my only complaint is that the chocolate is usually lacking, well for me anyways. I didn’t want to use mini chocolate chips, I’ve done that before and the chocolate becomes too frozen and hurts your teeth. I wanted the chocolate to melt in your mouth – so I made my own. All it is some cocoa powder, agave nectar, and coconut oil mixed together. Then we pour it onto a baking sheet, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden and then break it up into chunks. Just like that we have large chocolate chunks that melt into your mouth. Coconut oil, you are the BEST!
The base of this vegan mint chip ice cream is a combo of full fat coconut milk and soaked cashews. The cashews are in play to keep this ice cream from having a strong coconut-y flavor. The only issue with cashew based ice cream is that there is this weird foamy mouth feel when it melts that’s off putting to me. Friends, I have found the perfect coconut milk to cashew ratio that doesn’t taste too coconut-y and doesn’t have that weird texture thing going on.
I know you will love this vegan mint chip ice cream. It’s rich, creamy, bursting with peppermint-y goodness and studded with the perfect amount of melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate chunks! It’s truly one of the best hugs food can give. Sending out all the love to you everyday, but especially today. Be the light. Thanks for being here. 🙂
- Mint Ice cream Base
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked 6 to 8 hours or for 1 hour in very hot liquid)
- 1 15 ounce can full fat coconut milk + ½ cup + 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
- ½ cup mint leaves, divided
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ⅛th teaspoon salt
- ½ cup raw organic sugar*
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Optional: 3 tablespoons 40% proof gluten free vodka**
- ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- Natural green food coloring (optional step)
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- ¼ cup water
- Chocolate Chunks
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup agave nectar (or to taste)
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- The night before making your ice cream place the bowl of your ice cream maker in your freezer and soak your cashews.
- Steep the mint leaves: Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, set aside. To a small sauce pot add the coconut milk, half of the mint leaves, and the coconut oil. Bring to a simmer and shut off the heat. Muddle the mint leaves to release their oils and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
- Make the natural green food coloring (optional step): To a blender add the spinach leaves and water. Blend until smooth. Pass the spinach juice through a fine mesh siv lined with cheese cloth or a thing tea towel. Discard the pulp and set the reserved food dye aside. Rinse out the blender really well, set aside.
- Blend the ice cream base: To the rinsed blender add the soaked and drained cashews. Strain the steeped mint leaves from the coconut mixture into the blender. Add the salt, remainder of the reserved mint leaves, sugar, agave nectar, vanilla, vodka, and peppermint extract to the blender, plus ¼ cup + 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spinach juice. Blend on high until everything is smooth. Taste and adjust as needed. Put the lid on the blender and transfer the blender to the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, or until the ice cream is well chilled. Note: You can skip the chilling step and put it right into your ice cream maker but I have read that allowing the fat to rest results in a creamier ice cream. Plus it takes less time to churn.
- Make the ice cream: Follow your ice cream maker's insturctions on making ice cream. Allow the ice cream to churn for 20 to 40 mintues, or until the ice cream is cold and thick, like the consicentvly of soft serve.
- Make the chocolate chunks: While the ice cream is churning line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Whisk the cocoa powder, agave nectar, and coconut oil together in a medium bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate out in a fairly thing layer, it doesn't need to be super even. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for 10 minutes, or until he chocolate has hardened. Use your hands to break up the chocolate into bite sized chunks. They can be varying in size - I like some to be small and some to be larger.
- Add the chocolate chunks to the ice cream: Once the ice cream is almost done churning add the chocolate chunks to the ice cream so that the mixer stirs it in.
- Freeze ice cream : Once the chocolate chunks have been stirred in you can either serve the ice cream immediately for a soft serve consistency. Or you can transfer it to an air tight container and freeze it for another 4 to 6 hours. Before serving allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it has softened enough to scoop. Soak your ice cream scoop in warm water for easier scooping. Store the ice cream in the freezer for up to a month.
** I always add alcohol to my frozen desserts to prevent ice crystals from forming which results in a better texture.I chose vodka for a neutral flavor but any 40% proof alcohol will do, but you may taste it if it has a strong flavor, like whiskey or rum. If you decide to leave the alcohol out try adding more vanilla extract (it has alcohol in it) to counter balance it. However I highly recommend using the alcohol for the best results. Besides you're using very little alcohol to amount of ice cream so you won't get drunk off it ;).
You will have spinach juice leftover. You can either discard it, save it for a smoothie, or save it to use as a food dye in future recipes. I imagine it would work well in frostings.
Prep time and cook time does not include hands off time required for freezing, chilling, or while the ice cream is churning.