Vegan Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I've been experimenting with different ice cream recipes this summer, which basically means that we've been eating a lot of homemade ice cream, and this recipe has easily become the favorite.  With the addition of an extra banana and even more cocoa powder, this ice cream has a richer flavor than the Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream but is made exactly the same way.

I highly recommend investing in a small container of Valrhona cocoa powder to make this and other chocolate desserts that use unsweetened cocoa powder (try it in the Vegan Iced Mocha).  It really makes a huge difference. I bought some for the first time at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and I don't think I'm going to be able to go back to generic cocoa powder.  Ghiradelli cocoa powder is pretty good too, and you can get a good deal on it at Target.  Whatever you do, don't buy Hershey's cocoa powder.  I tried it once and it had almost a chalky flavor to it (not a good characteristic for chocolate).

I have also included a very basic recipe for Chocolate-covered Nuts that you can use to make a homemade version of those delicious chocolate-covered nuts that they sell in bins at Trader Joe's.  They only take a couple minutes to make, and you can actually make them while your ice cream is freezing.  These are cheaper to make than the store-bought version and taste substantially fresher as well.  Toasting the nuts first really adds depth of flavor.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream (Makes 2 servings)
2 medium ripe bananas, broken into about 3 pieces each
1/2 cup almond milk (soy or regular milk would work)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter or almond butter (I use unsalted crunchy versions of both)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

(See more detailed instructions on making and freezing ice cream)
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at the highest speed for about one minute until the mixture is smooth.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker or the ice cream bowl attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer.  Freeze according to the machine's instructions, or for about 10 minutes in the Kitchenaid attachment (which is what I use).

If you want chocolate-covered nuts in the ice cream (or any other toppings), drop them in during the last minute or so that the ice cream is being processed in the machine or bowl.

Chocolate-covered Cashews or Peanuts
Handful of chocolate chips
Handful of toasted cashews or dry roasted peanuts, unsalted or lightly salted

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for 20-second intervals, stirring well in between the intervals.  It should take between 3 and 5 intervals to melt the chocolate chips completely depending on the amount of chocolate chips and your microwave. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth.

Add a small amount of the nuts to the melted chocolate and stir to coat the nuts completely in chocolate.  Some will stick together in clusters, but that's OK. Add additional nuts to the melted chocolate until all the nuts are coated and there isn't very much melted chocolate remaining in the bowl. (Just remember that it's much easier to add additional nuts to the mixture than it is to add additional chocolate).

Transfer the coated nuts to a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan or in a casserole dish (whatever will fit in your freezer at the moment).  Spread the nuts in an even layer on the parchment paper, and place the pan or dish in the freezer for at least 5 minutes, until the chocolate sets.

The nuts will be ready to go in the ice cream (or used as a topping) after about 5 minutes in the freezer, but you can keep them in there for longer (transfer to an airtight container for longer-term storage).  I like to keep these in the freezer indefinitely because I'm less likely to eat them all at once if they're out of sight.  You can keep them in the refrigerator as well, or on the counter in an airtight container if your kitchen is cool enough that they won't be in danger of melting.

The following nutrition facts are for one serving of ice cream made with natural crunchy peanut butter, before adding any chocolate-covered nuts:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 193 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 17%
Calcium 9%Iron 8%

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