Chocolate Amaretto (Almost) Vegan Ice Cream

Let's talk about ice cream.  As we approach Memorial Day and the DC weather starts to heat up, the hungry child inside of me starts to demand ice cream.  And not just on the most beautiful, sunny days, where you're walking around and could go for a cool, refreshing treat.  Basically everyday.

This can pose a problem, especially now that Shake Shack has moved into the neighborhood and decided to serve the most delicious chocolate frozen custard mere blocks from our apartment.  They even have a "C-Line" dedicated to people who are just there for the custard, so even the lines that extend down the block don't serve as a deterrent.    

The following recipe is my defense against the temptation of places like Shake Shack (and Wally's and Country Dairy back in Michigan).  It requires you to use either an ice cream maker or the Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment for your mixer.  For the sake of inclusion, those of you who don't have an ice cream maker or attachment can check out this Whole Foods recipe, which uses frozen bananas and a blender but probably needs some cocoa powder and vanilla to bring the ice cream to the next level, or this article, which explains how to turn frozen bananas into ice cream using a food processor.

This recipe is almost vegan because I use a little bit of Nutella, which has milk in it, but you could easily leave that ingredient out and make it completely vegan.  Nutella is just so darn good though, and I'm not actually vegan, so that's my story.

Chocolate Amaretto (Almost) Vegan Ice Cream
1 cup almond milk*
1 ripe banana, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (the better the quality, the better the flavor)
1/2 Tbsp Nutella
1 Tbsp brewed coffee (we always have cold coffee in the house, but if you don't, use 1/2 teaspoon of instant)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.5 Tbsp Amaretto (I am pretty positive that Kahlua and Baileys would be delicious as well)**

Toppings: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, whipped cream

*You'll notice that I frequently use almond milk in my recipes.  I buy it in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's, and I think it tastes a lot better than soy milk (and has only 60 calories per cup).  You can substitute soy or low-fat milk in this recipe if you'd like.  I'd say to use 2% or 1% regular milk in this recipe rather than skim milk for the sake of producing a good consistency in the ice cream, and it is dessert after all.  If you really want to run amok, you can always throw some half & half in there.  No judgments.

**There is alcohol in this recipe.  Very delicious alcohol at that.  This isn't because I'm a lush, but because alcohol does really great things for ice cream.  Since it won't freeze, it helps the ice cream stay really creamy despite being really low in fat.  I'll include a kid-friendly recipe at the bottom if you want to serve this to the kids.

This is how you make it:

1. Put all of the ingredients into a blender (yes, just throw them all in there).
2. Run the blender on the highest speed until you have a smooth, chocolaty mixture.  (about 20-30 seconds)

3. Turn your ice cream maker or mixer on first, then as it's running, pour the mixture directly from the blender into the ice cream maker or bowl attachment.
4. Let the machine run for approximately 10 minutes, or until you get the desired consistency.  You don't want this to run quite as long as traditional ice cream recipes or it will get too icy.  It should be about the consistency of soft serve ice cream when it's done.

5. In the last couple minutes, grab your bowls and toppings.  When it's done, just turn it off and grab a spatula. Use the spatula to scrape down the sides of your bowl.

We only get two servings out of this, but definitely double or triple this recipe if you want more.

6. Scoop out half of the mixture into each cup.  Add as many toppings as you'd like, and a dab of whipped cream on top never hurt anyone.  Enjoy!

What I love about this recipe is that it's so quick and easy that you can make it at the last second if you need something sweet.  Plus, it only makes two servings, so there would be a major walk of shame if I went back into the kitchen and made an entire second batch.  I generally recommend making this when you want it, instead of ahead of time, because it's so low in fat that it will basically turn into a block of ice if you put it in the freezer for too long.

Here's that kid-friendly version I mentioned:
Substitute 2 Tbsp of peanut butter for the Nutella and Amaretto, and make the rest of the recipe exactly the same.  This is actually a really great variation on the recipe and perfect for everyone who loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter in a dessert.

Nutrition facts based on the Chocolate Amaretto version of the recipe posted above:

Serving Size 
1 serving (204.1 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories  140, Calories from Fat 29
Total Fat 3.2g  5%
Saturated Fat 0.53%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 78mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 21.87%
Dietary Fiber 3.213%
Sugars 13.3
Protein 1.9g
Vitamin A 6%Vitamin C 9%
Calcium 16%Iron 6%

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