Vegan Ice-cream in Africa

Posted on March 21, 2013

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It doesn’t exist. At least not anywhere within probably a 2000 mile radius. I figure if it is not here in Nairobi (largest urban area in sub saharan Africa, apart from South Africa), then in all likelihood I have to get on a plane to find it.

Going dairy free in the US didn’t rob me of my beloved ice-cream. Almond Dream, Rice-Dream, and all other manner of dairy-free ice creams kept me satisfied (if you have not yet tried Trader Joes Soy ice cream, go there now. Buy it!) Then we moved to Kenya. Thankfully they have many options for Dairy-free milks…but ice-cream? Sadly, no.

Enter Ice-cream maker. Wahoo! Best invention ever for satisfying cravings for sweet, cold, creamy substances. (Parenthetical thanks to the Bares for giving us the one we now have!) However, making dairy free ice cream is still not easy here. Many recipes call for soy creamer (not available here) or coconut milk (which I VERY unfortunately cannot have; however, to anyone else wanting to get into making dairy free ice-cream, I highly recommend it; it is exceedingly creamy and delicious). Also, many recipes call for frozen banana, which makes a very easy, tasty ice cream (see here or here). However, there are times when I just don’t want my ice-cream to taste like banana. So my ice-cream adventures begin.

I could bore you with all the trials and failures, but let’s just suffice it to say that I have found an AMAZING recipe for chocolate ice-cream….drumroll…….Hot Chocolate Ice Cream. I didn’t have the Maca powder, so I omitted that, but followed everything else and it was SOOO good. Don’t skip the arrowroot, it is necessary for creaminess. Rich and decadent, a mere half cup (ok 3/4 cup) was plenty because it was so rich. I am not ashamed to say that I think about making this at least twice a week.

Onto Vanilla. This is a bit trickier, because when you are working with “other” substances besides plain old milk and cream, those other substances often carry their own flavors which may or may not be desirable. With vanilla, you are not really adding much to cover up these other flavors, so it can be tricky. Anyway, after perusing about a zillion recipes, I took the plunge and made up my own! And miracle of miracles, it actually turned out great. Though because I used maple flavoring, it is not technically vanilla. I would have used pure maple syrup instead, but it is about a billion dollars for 8 oz here in Nairobi, so we treat the stuff like gold (you know, hiding it under our mattress and stuff). So here it is —a vanilla-ish vegan ice-cream.

First, you will need Cashew Sweet Cream. It is super easy to make: Just throw soaked cashews, dates, a bit of vanilla and some water in a blender and blend like crazy. Result: creamy non-dairy goodness. This stuff is seriously “lick-the-inside-of-the-blender-good.” I was worried that my dates were too small so I doubled the amount, too. Here’s the recipe: Cashew Sweet Cream.

Maple Pecan Vegan Ice-Cream

Makes 2 moderate portions

On stove top stirring occasionally in small saucepan heat

  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk (though I am sure almond or coconut milk would be ok, too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or a bit less if you want it not super sweet, use probably half this if your milk is already quite sweet)

In small mug dissolve

  • 1 TB arrowroot powder
  • 2 TB water or soymilk

When soymilk/sugar mixture is nearly boiling, stir in

Return to gently boil, stirring continually for about 30 seconds. Allow to cool to room temperature, (0r if you are impatient like me, speed up cooling process by setting pot in an ice-bath). Then pour in ice cream maker, and turn on. While the machine is doing its thing, dry roast on med high in skillet for about 4 min

  • handful of roughly chopped pecans

When machine is done,  scoop out ice cream into bowls and scatter with toasted pecans. YUM!

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Posted in: Clarissa, Epicurious