Yesterday was my dad’s birthday, and this year I thought it’d be fun to re-create one of his favorite ice cream flavors. Growing up, I used to love visiting the near-by ice cream stand, or whippy dip as it we called it. Like most establishments of its kind, it was only open from late spring until Labor Day, so you had a limited time to enjoy all those swirly soft serve and hand-dipped cones. Whenever I’d go with my parents, my mom would usually choose something involving chocolate, while my dad would almost always choose black cherry ice cream. I’d often pick something neon colored or outrageously flavored or doused in rainbow sprinkles, and while it would always seem like a good idea at the time, I’d ineviteably ask my dad if I could try some of his cherry ice cream. It was a classic.
Perfectly re-creating that dark sweet cherry flavor and creamy texture turned out being quite the challenge. I’ve sort of lost count, but I believe I’ve made and tweaked, and re-made this recipe about 6 times. Eventually I learned that the more cherries, the better, and that it’s possible to make ice cream too creamy. Yes, really. One of my first tries was soooo rich and creamy, that it had a mouth-feel reminiscent of cheesecake. Delicious, but not ice cream. A combination of raw cashews, coconut cream, and dairy free milk produced the creamiest result, with a touch of frostiness, for a truly delicious frozen treat.
This ice cream is refined sugar free, sweetened mostly with dates, and just a smidge of maple syrup. I like to use dates in homemade ice cream, not only because they’re a fantastic natural sweetener, but also because they help keep the ice cream from becoming too icy. Using very dark, ripe sweet cherries will also help yield the yummiest results. Finally, a touch of almond extract (not too much) is the other secret to that classic black cherry ice cream flavor.
Homemade ice cream is one of our favorite things to make around here during those hottest days of summer, so don’t be surprised if I share another flavor very soon!
Vegan Black Cherry Ice Cream
- 3 cups of ripe sweet cherries, pitted (1 cup should be cut into quarters) or use frozen
- 8 large medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked about 4 hours then drained and rinsed
- 1 cup coconut cream (the amount scooped from 1 can of coconut cream, or about 2 cans of full fat coconut milk. Don’t use the liquid at the bottom of the can)
- 1 cup dairy-free milk (I used Macadamia milk)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
Make sure the bowl from your ice cream maker is frozen (for about 24-48 hours in the freezer). In a high-speed blender, blend 2 cups of the pitted cherries, plus the remaining ingredients. Let it chill in the fridge for about 2 hours, stir in the 1 cup of quartered cherries, then run it through your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can eat it right away, or scrape it into a freezer safe container and smooth the top. Cover and freeze for another hour or two until firm enough to scoop. Tastes best if eaten within a few days. If left to freeze over night, simply set out on the counter for about 15 minutes before scooping. I also like to dip my ice cream scoop in hot water before scooping.
Notes and Variations:
If you don’t have a high speed blender, try subbing the cashews with 1/4 cup of raw cashew butter or 1/2 cup more coconut cream.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, but you do have a high speed blender, like a Vitamix, try freezing the blended mixture in a silicone ice cube tray. Once they are *just* frozen, pop them out into the blender and use the tamper to “churn” the cubes into ice cream in your blender. Use a spatula to scrape it into a container and stir in the cherry pieces. Smooth the top and cover. Freeze for a couple hours or until firm enough to scoop.
If you don’t have a high speed blender, or ice cream maker, you can make these into delicious popsicles, just be sure to use cashew butter in place of the cashews, or you could even try subbing a half cup more of coconut cream. Blend and then pour into popsicle molds and freeze until firm.
I’d love to know if you give this ice cream a try! Let me know in the comments, and be sure to tag your pictures #feedingyourbeauty on Instagram!