Updated November 8th, 2018 – Whether you’ve gone vegan, or recently discovered you’re lactose intolerant, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy one of the world’s greatest gifts to man. Although the word “cream” implies dairy is still hiding in your favorite dessert food, there are actually several non-dairy ice cream recipes that will yield a deliciously creamy ice cream alternative.
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Once you’ve found a recipe that sounds appealing to you, it’s important to be equipped with the right ice cream maker to churn your non-dairy ice cream into a scoopable delight. Without a machine that can whip up your dessert, you’d probably be better off eating fruit. Thankfully, I’m not here today to talk about fruit.
What makes a great ice cream maker?
There are almost as many choices of ice cream makers as there are flavors of ice cream. Well, perhaps there aren’t nearly that many, but there’s still a wide variety of ice cream makers to choose from.
If your freezer is tight on space, you might be interested in an ice cream maker that is small or doesn’t require an overnight chilling period. You might even be interested in an ice cream maker that doesn’t need any freezer time at all. These models can be fun to use with kids, as most of the work is done by a chemical reaction that takes place while you shake the ice cream maker.
If the thought of shaking ice cream for longer than it’ll take for you to scarf it down doesn’t sound all that appealing, you’re probably going to be interested in an ice cream maker that’ll do all the hard work for you.
Won’t I miss the nostalgic taste and texture of regular ice cream?
If you use creamy non-dairy substitutes for milk and eggs, you won’t necessarily miss out on the qualities of ice cream that you know and love. By choosing a non-dairy substitute with a higher fat content, you’ll yield a creamier non-dairy ice cream. It’s a lot like using heavy cream and real eggs when you’re making your own gelato. Low-fat ingredients are not the same as full-fat ingredients.
When choosing a non-dairy milk for your ice cream base, opt for the full-fat version. Your best options are going to be coconut milk, cashew milk, or soy milk. These dairy alternatives have a higher fat content than milk like almond, which has a high water content.
Non-dairy milk with too much water will make your ice cream crystallize, which is cool to witness, but not necessarily delicious when it comes to making ice cream. The creamiest non-dairy ice creams are made by beginning the churning process with an ice cream maker bowl that has been left in the freezer overnight.
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What features should I be looking for to make the best non-dairy ice cream?
First things first. If you don’t want to be tied to your ice cream making task, invest in a model that is automatic. An electrically powered ice cream maker that will churn on its own and shut off when it’s done is what you should be looking for.
Although it would be nice to have an ice cream maker that could churn out ice cream at the rate of a Ben and Jerry’s operation, it really isn’t practical for home use. Consider a model that’s big enough to make plenty of ice cream (so that you don’t eat all of it in one sitting!), but small enough so that you’ll have cabinet or counter space for your new favorite appliance.
If you intend on making several batches of non-dairy ice cream for someone with a ravenous sweet tooth, be sure that you choose a model that is known for its durability and longevity. A sturdy design is just as important as a powerful and lasting motor for your ice cream maker.
What about mix-in ingredients and texture?
Some may argue that mix-in ingredients are the best part of ice cream. The mix-ins are added to the ice cream as it’s churning into a beautiful frozen treat. If you want the ability to include additions, like fresh fruit pieces (cherries, anyone?) or non-dairy peanut butter cups, you’re going to need a spout that’s large enough to accommodate these little bits of deliciousness.
The paddle mechanism that churns the ice cream is another important piece to consider. For a light and airy ice cream texture, be sure that the paddle can churn the ice cream in a way that allows for very small air bubbles. These bubbles are what keeps the ice cream from turning into a dense dessert.
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Is there anything else I should know?
Making your own non-dairy ice cream allows you to be fun and creative with your dessert concoctions. If you’re a big fan of different ice cream flavors, carefully add a few drops of flavoring extract. Adding in a small amount of flavored alcohol will give your ice cream a softer texture while amplifying its flavor.
For an extra tasty treat, try adding your heavier mix-in ingredients in layers rather than all at once. It may even be better to add chunks and swirls after the ice cream has finished churning.
When you’re ready to make your own non-dairy ice cream, check out a few models and see which will best fit your situation to make endless combinations of non-dairy ice cream.
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