Is it ice cream season yet?! To be honest, weather wise it certainly isn’t here in Finland (lately it’s been wet and cold, raining both sleet and hail!!), but to be totally honest, in my opinion ice cream tastes good even when it’s a raging snow storm outside. I just can’t get enough of ice cream. And I do mean thick creamy REAL ice cream, not the healthier nice cream version, which tastes amazing as a snack or even as a brekkie on sunny summer mornings. So this rich and creamy tahini caramel swirl ice cream with pecan cookie bites satisfies any real ice creams cravings perfectly.
What has been quite surprising to me (a TRUE ice cream lover) is that I haven’t missed dairy ice cream at all. I used to love ice cream with chunks and gooey swirls – chocolate chips, brownie bits, cookie crumbles, caramel, chocolate sauce you name it. This ice cream was inspired by one of my old favorites: a creamy caramel ice cream with caramel bites. As I have a huge foodie crush on tahini, I used tahini for the gooey caramel swirls. The tahini caramel is very similar to the one in my creamy citrus pies, and I admit using this caramel sauce with pretty much anything: fresh fruit, caramelized bananas, pancakes, even spread on toast 🙂
The pecan cookie bites are similar to an oldie but goldie recipe of mine: pecan bites I used in my caramel apple pie smoothie. These little sweet bites are a great example of the versatility of vegan treats – perfect swirled in ice creams, perfect on top of smoothies or chia puddings and just as perfect on their own, too.
The ice cream itself is a creamy marriage of cashews and coconut cream – a combination, which is very popular in vegan ice cream recipes. And no wonder: when these two are mixed together, something quite magical happens as neither the taste of cashews nor coconut comes out strong. This creamy number is sweetened with dates only, so all in all this heavenly ice cream doesn’t contain any refined unhealthy ingredients. Healthy and luscious – isn’t that the best kind of treat?
- Ice cream
- 1 cup soaked cashews
- 1 cup coconut cream (1-2 cans of coconut milk, just the creamy part scooped out)
- 6 pitted dates (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- ½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- Tahini caramel swirl
- 5 pitted dates
- 3 tbsp coconut milk (or other plant milk of choice)
- 1 tbsp tahini (I use a slightly salted version)
- ¼ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt if tahini is not salted
- Pecan cookie bites
- ⅓ cup pecan nuts
- ⅓ cup buckwheat groats
- 4 pitted medjool dates (or 5-6 smaller dates)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- pinch of Himalayan salt
- Preparations for ice cream: set coconut milk can to the fridge overnight. Soak cashews for 2-4 hours in a jar filled with warm water and a pinch of good quality (e.g.Himalayan) salt.
- Ice cream: scoop the stiff creamy part out of the coconut milk can. Drain and rinse soaked cashews well. Put coconut cream, soaked cashews and all other ice cream ingredients in a high-speed blender or powerful food processor.
- If Vitamix is used, I recommend to blend first at a slow speed (use tamper if needed) and then turn to high speed for about 30 sec until the ice cream is completely smooth and creamy.
- Put soft ice cream in a container and freeze for about an hour.
- Tahini caramel swirl: prepare the tahini caramel by blending all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth.
- Pecan cookie bites: blend pecans and buckwheat groats first for a few seconds and then add all other cookie bite ingredients until a cookie dough like consistency reached. Flatten the dough into a thin rectangular layer. Put the cookie layer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
- Ice cream: take ice cream out of the freezer after about an hour and mix well with a spoon (the ice cream should still be soft), add tahini caramel swirls and pecan cookie bites and mix again. Put in the freezer for an hour.
- Take out from the freezer and mix again well.
- Put in the freezer for another hour.
- The ice cream is at its best after about 3-4 hours of freezing. If you let it freeze overnight, the ice cream will be very hard so take it out of the freezer well before you intend to eat it (about 30 minutes).
OPTIONAL: To make nuts and buckwheat groats more digestible and to remove anti-nutrients, it is advisable to soak pecans (for about 6 hours) and buckwheat groats (for 10-12 hours) in a glass jar filled with warm water. You can also add 1 tsp apple cider vinegar when soaking buckwheat groats. After soaking, drain and rinse nuts and groats well and put into a baking sheet (or use a dehydrator). Set oven to the lowest possible temperature and dehydrate nuts and groats overnight (leave the oven door sightly open). This soaking and dehydrating can be done well in advance.
ps For some more healthy and yummy ice cream inspiration and recipes, head on over to nicecreambook.com to pre-order the amazing vegan ice cream book by Virpi Mikkonen and Tuulia Talvio. The book will be released in English May 17 and the Finnish version is out NOW 🙂