*Before you feel sad that you don’t own an ice cream maker – don’t despair! This recipe can also be made using ice cube trays and a blender or food processor. Keep reading.
I’ve mentioned before that I used to be an ice cream junkie. I actually don’t indulge all that often anymore, unless you count frozen banana soft-serve, in which case, yes – I indulge several times a week. For the most part, though, extra thick smoothies have replaced my once nightly ice cream (or frozen yogurt) habit.
Every so often, however, I get a craving for one of my old favorites: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
The giant chunks of chocolate, the big pieces of sweet cherries…eating that ice cream was like digging for gold, except I came up rich with every spoonful. You would not have wanted to share a pint with me, unless you enjoyed smooshed around vanilla ice cream. I am a mix-ins hog and I selfishly have no plans to reform my chocolate and cherry-loving ways.
Since Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t make a non-dairy Cherry Garcia (yet!), I made my own. And I made some for you too.
I used a combination of decadent full-fat coconut and rich, homemade cashew milks as the base. These are slightly sweet on their own, and I decided to play up that natural sweetness with medjool dates in place of sugar. It might seem overly healthy, but not to worry – I made up for that with lots and lots of chocolate chunks and slivers. I was heavy-handed with the cherries too, making sure each bite would have plenty of both.
Really, there’s no need to go digging for cherries and chocolate in this ice cream.
I’ve got you covered.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3½ cups filtered water
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1½ cups homemade cashew milk
- 7 pitted medjool dates, soaked for an hour & drained
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries, roughly chopped
- ½ cup vegan dark chocolate chunks (or chips), divided
- Prepare the cashew milk by soaking the cashews in filtered water for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator (overnight is okay too).
- Once soaked, drain and rinse the cashews.
- Add the cashews, water, and salt to a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute, or until the cashews are broken into very fine pieces.
- Reserve 1½ cups of the cashew milk for the ice cream recipe, and store the remaining milk in a covered container in the fridge.
- You can add more water to the remaining milk for a less rich consistency. Homemade cashew milk should keep for 2-3 days. In the future, feel free to play around with the ratio of water to cashews. I typically use 1 cup cashews: 4 cups water, but I wanted a creamier texture for the ice cream.
- Next, make the ice cream by adding the coconut milk, cashew milk, dates, vanilla, and sea salt to the blender and process until very smooth.
- Pour the milk mixture into an ice cream maker* (see note at the end of the post for an alternative) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the texture resembles soft-serve.
- While you're waiting for the ice cream, chop ¼ cup of the chocolate chunks to create smaller slivers. You want a mix of small chocolate pieces and chunks in the final product.
- Once the ice cream resembles soft-serve, fold in the chocolate and cherries until they’re evenly incorporated into the ice cream.
- Enjoy immediately, or place the ice cream in a freezer-safe container and allow to firm up in the freezer for a couple of hours or overnight.
I used an ice cream maker to make mine, but I know this can be prohibitive for a lot of people. Alternatively, you can make ice cream using ice cube trays and a blender or food processor. Here’s how:
Instead of pouring the milk mixture into an ice cream maker (step 7 in the recipe instructions), simply pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for two or three hours until it’s mostly solid (not rock hard). Next, place the ice cream cubes into your blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the ice cream base to a large bowl and fold in the chocolate and cherries. Grab a spoon and dig in, or allow it to firm up a little more in the freezer!
Ice cream confession time: are you guilty of eating all the mix-ins and putting a container of plain ice cream back in the freezer? Aaron loves when I do this.