Homemade vegan strawberry ice cream with coconut milk, maple syrup, and roasted strawberries. A healthy and delicious treat for summer!
Roasted Strawberry Homemade Ice Cream!
You guys won’t mind if I post nothing but dessert recipes for the rest of summer, will you?
Better stock up on coconut milk and maple syrup, because 92% of what I’ve been making lately includes both.
Ever since summer hit, I’ve been much more interested in making desserts than savory food. Maybe because it’s summer and all it takes is me thinking about turning on the stove top to prompt the on-call beads of sweat to spring to action and start dripping down my face.
…Or perhaps I’ve just been feeling a surge of creativity in the dessert department.
…Or maybe I’m finally accepting the full force of my sweet tooth and have decided to feed the need.
Whatever this phase is, I’ve been making alllll the desserts lately, and I’m loving it!
Let’s talk about fruit chunks.
Hunks of fruit in my ice cream used to give me the heebie jeebies. Like nails-down-a-chalkboard, lemon-juice-in-a-paper-cut, someone-tailgating-me-when-I’m-already-driving-15-MPH-over-the-speed-limit shudder status. It took me a good long while to absolve myself of the fear of fruit chunks in my yogurt and ice cream. In fact, I’m still a picky pickster about it. Like, I have to be the one to insert them into my yogurt or ice cream, or else: no dice. Call it a control thing, call it lack of trust of the fruit chunk industry, call it a character flaw, call it what you want, this girl’s got standards.
Howeves, fresh ripe roasted strawberries in my coconut milk ice cream? Natural sweetness on my tongue? Yes, puh-lease!
Roasting the strawberries with a smidge of balsamic vinegar and pure maple syrup enhances their flavor. You can’t taste the vinegar in the ice cream…just a little tangy richness to contrast all the sweet. I also roasted the strawberries in a little coconut oil helps keep them soft once frozen.
This creamsicle dreamsicle ice cream gives the store-bought version a run for its money. The sweetness is scaled back (just how I like my ice creams), there’s all the strawberry flavor, and as a whole, the treat is nice and refreshing. I’m loving this roasted fruit ice cream idea so much that I’m thinking I’ll be making a roasted cherry and roasted peach version before the end of summer.
Tips For Keeping Your Ice Cream Soft
You know how homemade ice cream tends to be rock solid and requires a million years to thaw? I thought I’d share a few tips on how to keep it soft. Here they be:
Fat content: using non-fat or low-fat milks will result in an icy consistency. Fat has a low freezing temperature, which helps it stay nice and creamy. I like to use full-fat coconut milk, coconut oil, and/or coconut cream to help in the fat department. Similarly, many people use egg yolks to give ice cream rich flavor and more of a gelato-like texture. I don’t use egg yolks only because tempering them (followed by chilling the ice cream base) is an extra step and I like to keep all the things in life simple. You can use half & half or heavy whipping cream if you aren’t sensitive to dairy. Trust me, light coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk do not work by any stretch of the imagination.
Alcohol: As we remember from our college days, liquor doesn’t freeze. Adding a tablespoon or two helps keep ice cream soft, and you won’t even taste it. Unless you want to taste it, in which case you can add between 1/4 and 1/3 cup to a batch. I always have bourbon, tequila, and rum (both white and dark) on hand, so I choose one of those depending on what else is going into the ice cream. For chocolatey ice creams, I like using bourbon or dark rum. For fruity ice creams (like this one), I go with tequila or white rum.
Liquid sweeteners: Sugar doesn’t freeze, and liquid sweeteners add to the gooey consistency moreso than granulated sugar. Plus, natural liquid sweeteners (we’re talking maple syrup, honey or agave, not high fructose corn syrup) are lower on the glycemic index than cane sugar. You also need less liquid sweetener than granulated sugar since they’re sweeter per volume, so there are bonuses all around for selecting liquid v. crystallized.
Churn v. No Churn: While you can definitely make ice cream without an ice cream maker, the purpose of churning ice cream is to inject it with air, thereby making it fluffy. Because the ice cream makers we use at home churn at a much lower speed than commercial ice cream makers, this contributes to the hardness of homemade ice cream. Thawing homemade ice cream for 15-ish minutes allows it to loosen back up. So basically, patience is a virtue.
Add ins: What you use for flavoring your ice cream (fruit v. chocolate v. peanut butter v. coffee) impacts the softness quite a bit. For instance, adding melted chocolate to your ice cream base or mixing in nut butters results in a far creamier consistency than ice creams with fruit. Fruit contains water, and water freezes, giving a slightly icier texture.
Fruit that has been heated (through roasting or sauteing) stays softer in ice cream than raw fruit, because some of the water evaporates through the cooking process. You can also add oil (I used coconut oil when roasting the strawberries) in order to lube your fruit in fat to keep it from getting rock solid.
I’ve also noticed hunks of chocolate and nuts freeze to be rock solid in the homemade ice cream world (not sure how ice cream companies keep theirs soft), so I tend to avoid adding anything solid.
Etc.: I’ve read some people use gelatin, corn starch, tapioca flour, or other stabilizers in ice cream. I’ve never experimented with these so I can’t speak to their effectiveness first-hand, but I’d like to try using gelatin or tapioca flour since both are healthful and would lend to a softer, creamier consistency.
Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Vegan)
Balsamic Roasted Strawberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add the chopped strawberries, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and coconut oil to a small casserole dish and toss to combine. Roast for 20 minutes, until juices are thick but strawberries still hold their form. Remove from oven and allow strawberries to cool completely to room temperature (Note: you can speed up the process by refrigerating the strawberries but if you leave them in the refrigerator for too long, the coconut oil will harden).
Combine all of the ingredients for the coconut milk ice cream in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker, following your ice cream maker’s instructions (many ice cream makers require you to freeze the bowl overnight). Allow ice cream to churn until very thick, then pour the roasted strawberries (including juices) into the ice cream maker. Continue to churn until ice cream is well-combined and maker begins to bog down.
Serve ice cream fresh out of the ice cream maker for a soft serve consistency, or transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze 2 to 3 hours, until hard. After frozen, allow ice cream to thaw 15 minutes before scooping into bowls and serving.