The Basics of Making Cashew Ice Cream

When I learned about cashew cream, that delicious substitute for heavy cream made from pureeing raw cashews in water, the first thing I thought about was Ice Cream!  I’m just so amazed by how much this cashew ice cream tastes like traditional dairy ice cream.

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While this ice cream is delicious, since its homemade, it has less air whipped into it. Dense and delicious, a little goes a long way. This cashew ice cream also has a lot of fat and protein and I find that super filling. One scoop is a nice serving size. More than that and it’s a whole meal in itself.

There are a few key ingredients that I use in every recipe of Cashew Ice Cream. I wanted to give you an overview so that you know how each ingredient might affect the outcome if you want to do some experimenting on your own.

Cashew Ice Cream

Cashews – the STAR of the show! When selecting cashews, make sure that they are raw cashews, not the roasted/salted variety you eat with a beer in the other hand. I have had good luck with Food To Live ® Organic Cashews that I purchased from Amazon.

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Coconut Milk – unsweetened, first pressing, coconut milk in a can. I prefer “A Taste of Thai” brand but any brand will work as long as it is unsweetened, first pressing. I’m not crazy about the light or other varieties because some contain filler ingredients.

cashew ice cream 7Sweetener –  I have found traditional or raw sugar to be the easiest to use, but if you’re trying to avoid these, honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup are nice alternatives. Molasses will work too, although the flavor will be strong. The liquid sweeteners give the ice cream a little bit of a softer texture which is easier for scooping, so these are great choices. If you are going to experiment with quantities, be careful not to reduce the sugar too much because the ice cream will be harder and more difficult to scoop.

In some flavors we’ve tried, we were able to taste a coconut undertone although we have not noticed any cashew flavor. I think the richer flavors, like chocolate, mimic traditional ice cream better than the plain vanilla, although as a topping, say for apple crisp, the vanilla cashew ice cream tastes very much like traditional dairy ice cream, lending that rich vanilla, cold, creaminess combined with each bite of apple.

cashew ice cream 6Now let’s talk about how we are going to turn these yummy ingredients into delicious Cashew Ice Cream! 🙂 In order to churn ice cream, you need an Ice Cream Maker. There are lots of different kinds out there. I remember making ice cream as a kid and we all took turns cranking the handle that spun the bowl inside a barrel of ice and rock salt. You had to work for your ice cream! Then I had an electric one that pretty much was the same as the manual one, except you didn’t have to crank it. It made delicious ice cream, but was still an outside project with ice and rock salt.

cashew ice cream 5Now, I use this cute little Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker that has a bowl that you put in the freezer so no ice and salt required. The absolute best part of this machine in my opinion, other than the fact that it doesn’t require ice and salt to use, is that it is SUPER easy to clean! I like to create, but clean up, not so much. 🙂 It takes 24 hours to really freeze the bowl, so I store the bowl in the freezer all the time, ready to go. If you are in the market for an ice cream maker, I’d highly recommend the Cuisinart as I’ve used it quite a bit and it still looks and works like it’s brand new.

Cashew Ice Cream 2Okay, so we’ve got the ice cream maker sorted out and the bowl is freezing in the freezer. The next step is to soak the cashews. Raw cashews need to be soaked prior to use to get them nice and soft for blending – we do not want chunks of cashew in our ice cream. I soak them for at least 4 hours and sometimes overnight just for convenience.

Cashew ice cream 3When you are ready to blend the cashews, drain off the soaking water. Add the drained cashews, coconut milk, sweetener, and flavorings to your blender (follow the recipe of your choice – I’ve made a whole category dedicated to Cashew Ice Cream Recipes under Kitchen/Recipes.)

chocolate cashew ice cream 2I use a heavy duty Magic Bullet NutriBullet Pro 900 Series Blender/Mixer System for blending  and it really does a nice job of blending the nuts. A food processor might work as well if you don’t have a strong blender. The goal is to really blend it smooth – that’s the key to the ice cream coming out with a smooth and creamy texture. Once you’ve got it mixed, put it in the refrigerator until it’s cold (2-4 hours is about perfect). If you leave this in the refrigerator overnight that works well also. Just keep in mind that the mixture will be very thick, almost pudding consistency and will churn into ice cream super fast. Because it will set up faster, not as much air will be churned into the mixture which makes it a little tougher to scoop.

chocolate cashew ice cream 4Pull your freezer bowl out of the freezer, and pour in the cashew mixture. If you are mixing in additional ingredients, add those as well. Follow the directions for your ice cream maker. My directions say to churn for 15-20 minutes, but I find that the Cashew ice cream rarely takes more than 10 minutes. It starts off a little thicker so sets ups faster. chocolate cashew ice cream 6I love the texture right out of the ice cream maker. It’s great to put in the freezer and eat the next day too, but when it’s first churned, it’s just a little softer and I really like that. That’s all there is to it.

chocolate cashew ice cream 8It’s a little work to make homemade ice cream of any kind, but it sure is delicious and worth the effort. And if you are following a dairy restricted diet, this is such a great option. This is our most popular flavor, rich chocolate – doesn’t it look yummy?!?! The kids start running for spoons before I can get it out of the ice cream maker, all looking to taste test! I’d love to hear if you try making cashew ice cream and if your family likes it as much as we do!