Yes, desserts can be healthy and delicious at the same time. There is no more need to deprive yourself of your favorite treats just because you cannot find healthier alternatives that satisfy your taste buds. This ice cream is decadent, sophisticated and insanely delicious, and yet it is vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free.
The common problem with vegan ice creams is that they are too light, fluffy and often icy, and that they lack creaminess and smoothness. I wanted to create a vegan ice cream which would taste as close as possible to the real one, but without gluten, refined sugar or other inflammatory ingredients. Having a right base is the key to a creamy, smooth, scoopable ice cream. I used a combination of full fat coconut milk, almond milk, xanthan gum, maple syrup and raw coconut nectar. This prevents the formation of large crystals and produces the smooth and creamy texture.
The next challenge was to achieve a perfect balance between creamy and crunchy textures, and bitter, sweet and salty tastes. Toasted almonds work best here in combination with raw cacao nibs. To balance the bitterness of raw cacao powder I had to add a little more sweetener, but using maple syrup alone resulted in a kind of flat taste. Using half of maple syrup and half of raw coconut nectar added complexity, depth and somewhat smokey flavor, and just a bit of black sea salt rounded it all up, creating a perfectly balanced sophisticated dessert.
We used raw organic cacao powder for this ice cream because of its amazing health benefits. Raw cacao has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries, is the highest plant-based source of iron, full of magnesium for a healthy heart and brain, has more calcium than cow's milk, and is a natural mood elevator and anti-depressant (from the article Cacao: 5 Little Known Benefits of this Amazonian Superfood). So feel free to enjoy your chocolate fix and feel good about it. One thing to be aware of though is that cacao contains caffeine, so if you are sensitive to it, avoid this ice cream in the afternoon.
Other recipes added this week: