Kids in the Kitchen: Dairy-Free Rocky Road Ice Cream

This was a bit of a different path for Brandan. At first, when we discussed what he wanted to make, he immediately jumped on the usual track – new, never-been-tried-before seafood of some variety. After all, we’ve made sea cucumberswordfish, and a seafood gumbo featuring squid. So when he first mentioned shark, I followed him in stride, working to create ideas for shark steaks and side dishes. We nailed down our plan.

Or so I thought.

The next day, in a random discussion, the topic of rocky road ice cream came up. I admitted that I loved rocky road ice cream to him, and he agreed that it was a pretty great flavor. That’s when he surprised me – he wanted to make rocky road ice cream instead of shark steak! My boy, who is into all things challenging, strange, and heavy on the protein, wanted to make a rather “normal” dessert. Of course, I was happy to oblige, and changed our plans accordingly.

After making several dairy-free ice creams in my recent past, I hardly follow a recipe anymore. They’re so quick and easy, especially if I’ve pre-chilled the coconut milk and the ice cream maker bowl (which lives in our chest freezer). Ice cream is basically a dump-and-stir process, and then with a quick churn in the ice cream maker, it’s ready to go in the freezer. Easy peasy.

I did make this recipe a bit more difficult, however. I did not want to use store-bought marshmallows. I have trouble digesting corn, and every marshmallow I’ve found in the stores uses corn syrup. So I opted to make my own.

I tried two different recipes – one sugar-free, and one not. The sugar-free one I tried was from Z’s Cup of Tea. That recipe used honey. Unfortunately, I forgot to add the vanilla extract, and they tasted too much of honey. However, I really want to try them with agave nectar instead, because the marshmallows were lovely and springy. (Also, if you check out her blog, you’ll find that she whips her marshmallows by hand! That impressed me immensely.) I decided on my second try to make marshmallows with sugar, just so I could understand what they were supposed to be like. I followed Deb’s instructions at Smitten Kitchen, only I substituted agave nectar for the corn syrup. They turned out beautifully. (So much so, that I could hardly stop eating them) Next time, I’ll know just what to expect when I tackle those agave-only marshmallows, and there won’t be a mountain of sugar used in the process.

Those marshmallows were ready to go when Brandan and I set out to make our ice cream. I cut them extra small so there wouldn’t be huge bites of marshmallow, but they were still somewhat larger than commercially made. No matter – we like marshmallows at our house! 

The verdict? This ice cream definitely had more flavor, and in spite of the full-sugar marshmallows, was a tad less sweet than commercial ice creams. I think we declared it a winner. Brandan did for sure – he took the rest of the ice cream and remaining marshmallows home to his Mom’s house at the end of the weekend (much to my relief – I find that I can easily become addicted to sugar!). 

Will this mean that in the future, Brandan won’t cook challenging foods? I hardly think that’s the case. His sense of adventure is still strong. I anticipate having to hunt down a bizarre food soon.

Dairy-Free Rocky Road Ice Cream

3 cans of coconut milk

1 c of almond milk

1 t xanthan gum

2/3 c cocoa powder (not Dutch)

pinch of salt

3/4 c agave nectar

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t almond extract

1 c marshmallows

1 c nuts, coarsely chopped (we used half peanuts and half pecans)

1/2 c dark chocolate chips

In a blender, add the coconut milk, almond milk, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, and salt. Blend until there are no longer lumps of cocoa powder. Add the agave nectar and the extracts and blend. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour into a freezable container and stir in marshmallows, nuts, and chocolate chips. Freeze 4 hours or until firm.

Makes over a quart. If your ice cream maker can’t handle this volume, consider cutting the recipe in half or processing in batches.


Filed under Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

18 responses to “Kids in the Kitchen: Dairy-Free Rocky Road Ice Cream

  1. Oh wow, this looks seriously good! I made marshmallows once too. The version I made took a really long time in the mixing. Not sure I like marshmallows THAT much! LOL! I will try your ice cream base though. I have tried a bunch of them and have yet to find one with the texture I am looking for.

  2. Zoe

    What a great-looking ice cream, Alta! I’ll have to try it sometime, and I love that it’s dairy-free as well. 🙂

    Well done about the marshmallows! I found that, too, with the honey marshmallows: I forgot to add the vanilla once as well, and yep, the honey flavour was overwhelming. Adding the vanilla really helps cut and round out the honey’s sweetness and flavour. There isn’t that sort of issue with the agave-sweetened marshmallows as agave nectar has a milder flavour than honey, although adding vanilla to the honey ones make it taste virtually the same as the agave-sweetened ones.

  3. Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine making marshmallows from scratch. I can’t even remember the last time I had marshmallows, but you’ve inspired me to give them a try one of these days. It’s almost hot chocolate weather around here and the idea of marshmallows floating on top sounds divine.

    Now, your ice cream. Wow, it looks delicious. I agree that making ice cream is “easy peasy” and dairy free hasn’t been to difficult to conquer, but I always stick to coconut milk and haven’t ever thought of adding almond milk. Great idea!

    And I agree, it takes next to nothing for me to become RE-obsessed with sugar as well. I’d want the ice cream out of the house too!

    Great post. Loved every word!

  4. Alta you are the bomb! This looks fantastic! I need more time to make my own ice cream. You are my inspiration!

  5. Yum! This sounds seriously good.

  6. Joy

    Great recipe. I would never consider using coconut milk.

  7. I will bet using that coconut milk made this creamier and super delicious it sure looks it

  8. That looks great, Alta. SU’d!

  9. This is such a great idea for dairy free ice cream – that coconut milk adds so much flavor to everything doesn’t it!

  10. This ice cream looks decadent and sensational and fabulous. Yum!

  11. You rock! What a great sounding recipe. I have had Zoe’s marshmallows on my to-make list for a long time. You’ve inspired me!

  12. Great recipe…. and my ice cream maker is in the freezer and ready to go too!

  13. What a great recipe. I am also relieved to hear making vegan gluten-free ice cream is that easy – I just received an ice cream maker for my birthday on Monday and want to make something gf/dairy-free/low in sugar, and now I am realizing it really is that easy 🙂

    Thank you as always for the great comments on my blog. I always so appreciate your stopping by 🙂

  14. that sounds awesome. Not sure I’d ever have the ambition to do it, maybe you’ll have to send me some 😉

  15. That is some serious ice cream! Sadly, my ice cream maker broke last year and I haven’t bought a new one. Maybe you should go into business, then I wouldn’t have to buy one!

  16. Our bucket lives in the chest freezer too. Yesterday was warm and I came home from errands all ready to make coconut milk ice cream only to find that the kids were using the bucket to make a dairy ice cream. Turned out I didn’t have cold coconut milk anyway. This sounds delicious, and I might give it a try today. I’ll definitely have to cut it in half though. It’s great when kids are adventuresome with food, but the rather normal recipe was nice. Thanks for sharing it.

  17. So good! I just made my first ice cream with coconut milk, but it still had cream in it – would like to try my hand at a non-dairy one. I love this flavour, and well done on the marshmallows! Homemade ones are so much better!

  18. Just realized I’ve missed a few of your posts, and you know how I love your Kids in the Kitchen series! Oh, such lovely ice cream. I like Brandan’s momentary side path into normal here–very nice indeed. I’ve never been able to resist Rocky Road ice cream, and with Zoe’s homemade marshmallows? Super yum! I’d be glad he took the rest with him, too. 😉


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