Last year, we were considering offering a housemade soft serve ice cream at Kitava. Most soft serve ice creams out there are very high in sugar and/or unsuitable for those who don't consume dairy. In addition, the dairy used is typically low quality.
I set out to make a better soft serve, one that is not only dairy-free, but also free of added sugars. I wanted it to be grain-free, vegan, and keto, and not use sugar alcohols, if I could pull it off. That meant no milk, no milk powder, no cream, no sugar, no agave syrup, no coconut sugar, no maple syrup, no oats, and no erythritol–all the ingredients you'd typically find in a vegan or keto ice cream.
After buying a soft serve ice cream machine, our home kitchen turned into a research and development lab. I tried differing amounts of coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut oil, macadamia milk, almond milk, cashew milk, stevia, monk fruit, date syrup, and just about every low/no-sugar natural sweetener out there. I occasionally made "the real thing" using milk, cream, and sugar to recalibrate my taste buds. After going through (literally) 64 iterations, I landed on the perfect soft serve base.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons mainly due to sourcing and costs, we decided not to offer the soft serve at Kitava, but I realized that the base could also be used as a plant-based low-carb milk alternative and Renee now uses it every day in her morning matcha.
The recipe uses coconut milk and homemade cashew milk as its base. Unlike almonds or macadamia nuts, there's no need to soak cashews before turning them into a milk if you have a high-speed blender. The whole thing takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.
Allulose ended up being the most sugar-like natural sweetener. Most people haven't heard of allulose. It's just starting to enter the market. It's a no-sugar-added sweetener that passes right through your body, with little to no impact on blood sugar. It's also not fermented by your gut bacteria, so it won't cause any stomach distress or gas like some sugar alcohols.
You'll notice that both the stevia and monk fruit are optional. You can skip them all together, use only one, or use them both and keep adding one drop at a time until you get the sweetness level you like. Allulose holds its own as a sweetener and probably gets you 80% of the way there, but rounding out the sweetness profile with stevia and/or monk fruit gets you to 90-95%.
Recipe yield: 2 cups (16 fl oz) coconut cashew milk
Recipe time: 5 minutes
*Try to avoid canned coconut milk, which usually includes gums and is lined with BPA.
1. Combine cashews and water in high-speed blender (we use a Vitamix) and blend for two minutes.
2. Add all other ingredients to blender and blend on high for another 30 seconds.
3. At this point, the coconut cashew milk will be somewhere between room temperature and warm and is ready to serve. Store it in the fridge and it should last for at least several days, maybe a week.
Ingredients & Nutrition:
100% coconut milk, water, raw cashews, allulose
Serving Size: 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Total Fat: 25 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 119.3 mg
Net Carbohydrate: 6 g**
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 4 g
** Net Carbohydrate = Total Carbohydrate - Allulose - Fiber
That's pretty clean! If you'd like it to contain less total fat, you can substitute some of the coconut milk for water.
This recipe also makes an amazing base for chia pudding.
For making a soft serve ice cream base using this coconut cashew milk, use the same recipe as above, but with an additional 2 Tbs of allulose, 1/8 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a small pinch of salt blended in with the rest of the ingredients. To make it extra creamy, you can throw in a Tbs of organic sustainably-sourced palm shortening.
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