Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vanilla Swiss Almond Ice Cream and... It's Aliveeee!

Today you're in for a treat, a double post, woohoo! I'm kicking off a new segment, It's Aliveeeeeee! (okay, so there are only four 'e's), Sprouts Edition! I'm trying out growing some sprouts and documenting the process and their progress. :)

Oooh, a double feature!

It's Aliveeee! Sprouts Edition!: Episode 1, The Soaking Seeds

Sprouts are a great way to eat beans and legumes (and even grains!) without having to cook them. They're also a raw and live food, which many people believe are extra healthy. They're also packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins - even more than the original seeds before the sprouting process.

Despite being relatively expensive in stores, sprouting seeds is pretty darned easy to do at home, and the ingredients and materials are really cheap! All you need are some whole dried beans, lentils, or grains, a few glass jars, some cloth or mesh, and water.
I'm starting up three batches of sprouts - one with mung beans, one with green lentils, and one with French lentils (from left to right)!

Let the sprouting begin!
Step 1: Rinse 1/3 cup of beans/lentils and put in a clean glass jar (mine are ~24 and 36 oz jars). Fill the jar the rest of the way with water and cover. Leave overnight to soak (preferably in a cool, dark place)!

That's all for now! In the morning, I'll drain the seeds, and cover the jar with a small piece of thin cloth. Then, we'll rinse and drain them twice a day, and watch them grow! :D

And now, for dessert!

In my pre-vegan days, Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream was considered the ultimate family treat. It was the ice cream flavor we could all agree on - enough chocolate for my dad, not too much for my mom, and soooo much deliciousness for everyone in between. :)

The good ol' days.

The harmonious flavors of rich cream, delicate vanilla bean, and the sweet crunch of dark chocolate covered almonds.... ahhh... needless to say, it's been missed. ;)

When I was struck with the idea to make a vegan version, my quest for an ice cream maker began (or resumed really, it's been prepetually ongoing :P)! I checked Craigslist to see if I could get a deal on a used one, but didn't find anything cheap enough to satisfy my inner thrifter.

Then, on a fateful Saturday while walking to the local farmer's market with my dad, we stumbled across a stoop sale (the Brooklyn version of a garage sale). After deliberating over a pressure cooker, my dad asked the owner if he happened to have an ice cream maker that he was getting rid of. Moments later, the man emerged from his basement, ice cream maker in hand! He said he had never used it (and doubted that we ever would), and gave it to us for free! I may have then proceeded to ask him if he was actually Santa Claus. :D

Neat-o!

The ice cream maker is this low-tech 1980's red plastic hand crank beauty! Takes a little elbow grease (not really, ew gross!), but works like a charm. :)

Vanilla Swiss Almond Ice Cream
base adapted from Bittersweet Blog

yields 1 quart of amazing deliciousness

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened soymilk (others are fine, but you'll probably want to reduce the sugar accordingly)
1 cup coconut milk (for creaminess!)
1/2 cup sugar
contents of 1 vanilla bean, scraped
a pinch of salt

3/4 cup chocolate covered almonds

Gathering the ingreeeds.

Directions:

1. Prep your ice cream maker for ice cream makin'! For mine, that involved putting the bowl in the freezer for 7 - 15 hours.

2. Combine the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, and salt and mix well.

3. Slice open your vanilla bean down the length and open up. Be amazed by how cool it is! Scrape out the cool little black dots from the inside (I find it's easiest to do this with a small spoon).


If you have trouble finding vanilla beans to use for this, or if they're prohibitively expensive where you are, then you can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead (but your ice cream won't have cool vanilla speckles!). I was able to get five of them for just under $1.50 in the bulk section of my local health food store, but I've seen them for as much as $10 each sold in silly vials. They're really much easier to use than you might expect, and make just about anything spectacularly delicious.

4. Add to the mix! I used a whisk to mix everything (yeah whisks, whoo!) to make sure it was all blended well and also because I think whisks are super cool.


5. Chill the ice cream mixture for an hour or two to make sure it's cold. Ice cream maker instruction manuals warn that if you don't do this, the ice cream making may not work! Eek!

6. Put ice cream mix in ice cream maker and get ice cream making! For some of y'all that may mean you have to press a button, or get cranking! Or you can go for the old ice-and-salt-in-some-coffee-cans approach.


7. You'll end up with a soft-serve consistency ice cream once your ice cream making process is done. Depending on your machine, add the chocolate covered almonds a the appropriate time and stir in. For me, that was in the last five minutes of stirring.

Only about half of the almonds actually made it into the ice cream... Yum...

8. Taste ice cream. Close your eyes. Smile. Ahhh. Move the mixture to your freezer and freeze overnight! This will let it harden to reach a more scoopable consistency. We moved the ice cream into an empty Soy Delicious container we had around... and licked the ice cream maker bowl clean! Mmmmm...


Here's what it looked like the next day!

Mmmmmmm...

And here's what it tasted like: Amaziiiiing.

We also made root beer floats with some Maine Root Root Beer! Mmmmm...

  
Yeeeeeaaaaaah....

Everyone loved it! I had to make a second batch to get that last picture because it all got eaten before I could take on the first time around! This was my first time making vegan ice cream, and I'm excited that it turned out so well without too much fuss. So expect to see lots of ice cream variations in the near future!

What flavors or varieties of ice cream would you like to see? :)

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