Monday, January 13, 2014


Do you know what this is?

Magical deliciousness, that's what.

My birthday present to myself just arrived on Thursday.  After a lot of research and hemming and hawing, I decided on the Cuisinart ICE-21.  The price was right, and we have a chest freezer so I plan to just keep the bowl frozen at all times in case of spontaneous ice cream inspiration.  I splurged and got the turquoise one, because it's only a dollar more, and it's my birthday, damnit!

Ice cream has probably been the hardest part of our no-refined-sugar lifestyle.  Pretty much everything else, I can either make at home or we don't really like anyway, but we DO love our ice cream.  Pre-baby, Manflesh and I would occasionally raid the ice cream aisle for each and every fancy, super-premium, artisanal flavor that caught our fancy.  Post-baby, I don't think either one of us has had a bite of the stuff.

I recently became aware of just how easily dates break down in a warm liquid, and can be reduced to a passably smooth puree after a little simmering.  That quality, plus their natural sweetness without an overwhelming fruitiness, made me think they'd be well suited to act as the sweetener in an ice cream recipe.

For my first attempt, I decided to keep it simple.  I crafted a basic chocolate ice cream, then threw in a peanut butter ribbon when I took the cream out of the machine for its final freeze.  I thought the result was AWESOME, but that may be ice cream deprivation talking, because Manflesh thought the peanut butter ribbon should be sweetened and didn't like the slight gritty texture from the natural peanut butter (he's wrong, though).

I'm already brainstorming my next recipe.  I really want to try home made nut creams.  We have a hazelnut and an almond tree growing, so someday we'll have an ample supply of nuts, and in the mean time, I just... really like them.  What exotic ice cream flavor would you choose, with no limitations?  The options get a little dizzying, when you really start thinking about it.

No-Refined-Sugar Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 packed cup medjool dates, pitted
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Pit your dates and mix them up with the milk in a microwave-safe bowl (or a small saucepan if you're anti-microwave).  Warm gently - don't boil the milk, but warm enough to help soften the dates.  Mine took about 2 minutes, in 30 second increments, in the microwave.

When the dates are soft, blend them into a smooth puree with the milk using an immersion or conventional blender.  I love my immersion blender, and use it for everything, especially raisin and date purees for baking. This is the one that I have. 

Add the cocoa powder to the puree, and blend a little more to work out any chunks.  Then, gently stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.  Cover, and place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours or overnight before freezing in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

After the ice cream maker treatment, pack your frozen cream into an airtight container by alternating layers of ice cream and drizzles of peanut butter.  If your peanut butter is too thick to drizzle, you can loosen it up by warming a little, but avoid letting it get hot or it will melt the ice cream and ruin the texture.  I did four layers of ice cream separated by three layers of peanut butter in a 2 quart container, but I don't think it really matters.  When all the ice cream is packed, slice down through the layers a few times to swirl the peanut butter ribbon, then put a lid on the container and throw it in the freezer to freeze hard.

Here's the finished product:

It looks... just like ice cream you'd buy at a store!

Let's zoom in a little, shall we?

But tastes 10 times better and doesn't leave you feeling gross after eating it.

Yum.  Just, seriously.  Yum!

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