It's summer, and that means ice cream. Lots of ice cream, naturally, as it's the perfect refreshing treat with endless flavor possibilities.
I was trying to decide between a few of my old faves the other day: wondering whether I should go for caramel swirl, a pretty in pink balsamic plum beauty, or a classic like peanut butter choc chip, or pistachio.
Despite having about 50 more dairy-free, refined sugar-free, no-churn ice cream recipes on the blog (and don't even get me going on the "nice cream", sandwiches, pops, etc.-- can you tell I have an ice cream obsession?!) it occurred to me that goji berries might go extremely well in a smooth, creamy bowl of vanilla, and I just had to try.
The gojis, even though it seems like a very minor twist to an otherwise classic vanilla flavor, actually add a lot to the recipe. Flavorful and naturally spicy, colorful, nutritious...
I loved the result, which is surprising since I normally really struggle with goji berries. I want to love them, but I feel like it's always an effort to come up with a good recipe to work them into -- sometimes their flavor can be really overwhelming. In this ice cream they worked their magic though.
Speaking of colors, and magic, when I sprinkled the gojis on top I felt like something was still missing. I threw on one of my favorite decorative toppings -- edible blue cornflower petals and that totally hit the mark.
And strangely it reminded me of something fitting for the 4th of July -- an odd but brilliant coincidence, since it's really just days away. Love it when things spontaneously come together like that. So there you go, if you need to deck something out for Independence day, toss some gojis and blue cornflowers on top and you're good to go ;)
On that note though, goji berries are deceitful little entities. They really lead you on with their gorgeous red, but the moment you blend them into something they turn everything into a blazing orange. So if you want your vanilla base to remain cream colored, don't blend the gojis in with the blender -- be sure to stir them in with a spoon instead to avoid any unwanted orangeness...
A raw vegan classic vanilla bean ice cream recipe accented with goji berries (no churn, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)
- ¾ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained*
- 6 tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 tbsp coconut oil**
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp raw ground vanilla bean (or scrape ½ a vanilla bean pod)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup dried goji berries
- 1 tbsp edible dried blue cornflower petals (optional for color)
- Make sure all ice cream ingredients are at room temperature. Blend everything together into a smooth mixture in a power blender. Transfer into a medium-small glass freezer-proof container (make sure not to fill all the way if covering with a lid)(I used a container that's roughly 4"x6" but anything of a similar size will do).
- Sprinkle with goji berries and cornflower petals (alternatively can stir them into the mixture for a more balanced distribution as opposed to just sprinkling on top -- I didn't; they got naturally "folded" in the scooping process).
- Freeze for 5-6 hours or overnight. When ready to eat, thaw out on the counter a bit until it's at a scoopable consistency and enjoy!
*To pre-soak nuts: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water.
For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn't preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above).
Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you're interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
** I recommend using an unscented coconut oil for this recipe (like this one) to keep the vanilla flavor up and not have the ice cream taste coconutty, unless you like the taste / scent of coconut oil, in which case any version will do.