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 cucumber, swordfish, 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.