Monday, June 21, 2010

Creamy Soy Ice Cream

Yes, it is freezing in Swaziland.  Frost blankets the landscape in the early morning, even after the first light has peeked over the top of the mountains.  Leaving the house without a coat and gloves is not an option.  In fact, even being inside the house without a coat and gloves is not a smart move, as the lack of central heating makes indoors just as cold, if not colder, than outdoors.

However, not even this can overcome my love of ice cream.  It is probably what I have missed eating most for the last 13 months here in Swaziland, as there are absolutely no commercial gluten- and/or dairy-free options available.  Watching crowds spilling out of KFC during the summer months clutching flaky cones stacked high with deliciously creamy vanilla ice cream was like torture, knowing that I was still months away from enjoying any sort of frozen treat.  I usually averted my eyes, mouth watering, and wanting nothing more than a big bowl of Trader Joe's So Creamy or Purely Decadent.

Recently, the small health food store in town let me borrow a cookbook for allergies and food intolerance, and when I found this recipe, I marched immediately to my kitchen and set to work.  I made vanilla and chocolate chip to begin with, and then later experimented with mint chip and maple flavors.  You can take this basic recipe and turn it into any flavor you want.  I used only one can of coconut cream (165 ml) instead of two to reduce the fat content, and while what I ended up with was not as creamy as regular ice cream, it was still delicious.  Still, if you're after a creamier texture, add that second can of coconut cream and see what happens.

I can guarantee one thing: While it may not be as convincing as some of the commercial brands in the U.S., if you are ice cream-deprived, this will definitely satisfy that craving.  Darryn and I sat shivering in our sweatshirts, under a huge blanket, next to the heater, with hot tea in front of us for damage control, enjoying every last bite of this ice cream.

Creamy Soy Ice Cream (Adapted from "The South African Cookbook for Allergies and Food Intolerance")

1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 medium egg, beaten
1 - 2 tsp. vanilla essence or 2 packets vanilla sugar
1 or 2 165-ml cans (1 1/3 cups) Shogun (or other brand) Coconut Cream OR 1 cup Cool Whip

Mix the sugar, cornflour, salt and a little soy milk until smooth.  Bring the remaining soy milk to the boil.  Stir in the sugar mixture.  Cook, stirring, over low heat for 1 – 2 minutes, until thick.

Stir some of the hot mixture into the beaten egg, then return to remaining mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in the essence.  Allow to cool. 

Stir coconut cream or Orley Whip into cooled mixture. Chill until ice cold. 

Churn in an ice-cream maker or freeze in a bowl in the freezer.  If you follow the second method, beat the mixture twice to break up the ice crystals before freezing until firm.

Serve topped with chocolate syrup, crushed gluten-free cookies, sprinkles, caramel, whipped topping, and a cherry!

You can substitute another type of dairy-free milk for the soy milk if you are avoiding soy; I'd recommend a thicker one like hemp milk or almond milk, but rice milk could work as well.

Some suggestions for delicious routes to take with this base of vanilla ice cream:

Coffee ice cream:  Mix 1 tbsp. strong instant coffee powder with 1 tbsp. boiling water.  Add to the cooked ice cream mixture after adding the essence.

Maple ice cream:  Mix 2 - 3 tsp. maple extract into the cooked ice cream mixture after adding the vanilla essence.

Chocolate ice cream:  Mix 4 tbsp. cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth.  Stir into cooked custard mixture after adding the essence.

Orange ice cream;  Add 1 cup orange juice and 2 tsp. finely grated fresh orange rind just before adding cream to the cooked mixture.  Omit vanilla essence.

Mint chocolate chip ice cream:  Add 1 - 3 tsp. mint essence (to taste) to the mixture in place of the vanilla.  Place in the freezer to cool for 10 - 20 minutes before adding chocolate pieces.  Take ½ dark chocolate bar and cut into small chips or pieces and add to the mixture, stirring well.

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