One of the things I miss most about dairy is ice cream. On a hot, humid summer day, there is nothing better than a bowl of creamy, cold, delicious ice cream. So far, I have yet to find a truly great store-bought dairy-free ice cream. Sorry, So Delicious – your ice creams don’t cut it (and why must you put guar gum, gum arabic (??), and carob bean gum in your products?). If you live in New York, the best dairy-free ice cream I’ve found is from Van Leeuwen. Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, which has since closed, used to have this great peanut butter ice cream I would crave all year round. In fact, I would sneakily make dinner plans in the neighborhood and casually suggest post-dinner ice cream at this great little place that happened to be just around the corner.
I think I’ve cracked the code for the perfect dairy-free ice cream. You can use this base for any flavor – I tried peanut butter and salted caramel, and both were amazing. It uses a custard base with lots of egg yolks (sorry, vegans!) to give it that rich, creamy, ice-creamy consistency. The real trick here, though, is to use homemade almond milk. This is an absolute must. For this recipe, I used Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, but if you know of another dairy-free brand, go for it.
Have you found any store-bought dairy-free ice cream that you like? Any ideas for genius ice cream flavors? Leave them in the comments below
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 cups homemade almond milk - see recipe link above
- ½ cup sugar (divided into ¼ cups) plus 2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. sugar (separated)
- 2 Tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
- 4 Tbsp. natural unsweetened peanut butter
- 2 tsp. sugar (omit if you are using sweetened peanut butter)
- 4 Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
- In medium saucepan, heat 3 cups almond milk and ¼ cup sugar on low-medium heat just until hot and slightly steaming - do not let it boil. [If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add them to the pan in this step]
- Beat ¼ cup sugar with the egg yolks in a mixer (or by hand using a whisk) until thick and light yellow, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Beat 1 cup of the hot almond milk into the egg and sugar mixture until well incorporated. You want to bring the eggs to the same temperature as the almond milk and make sure they don’t curdle in the process. Slowly stir the mixture into the almond milk in the saucepan.
- Heat the mixture over low-medium heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 175 - 180 degrees F.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl, and add the vanilla extract and 2 tbsp. of sugar (or to taste). Stir well. Chill the ice cream mixture until very cold, or 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Add the ice cream to your ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- Meanwhile, mix the peanut butter with 1 tsp of hot water to thin slightly (if it is already liquid-y, omit the water) and stir in the sugar.
- Just before the ice cream finishes churning, add the peanut butter and three of the peanut butter cups to the ice cream maker.
- Serve immediately or freeze. Before serving, top with the remaining peanut butter cup.
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Basic French Vanilla Ice Cream in How to Cook Everything.