This vegan strawberry ice cream with berry swirl is a sweet, no-churn delight. A combination of dates and nut butter are the secrets to making a no-churn vegan ice cream that is delectably smooth and creamy.
Happy (belated) 4th of July to those in the U.S.!
I had grand plans of sharing this ultra creamy, custard-like vegan strawberry ice cream before the weekend in hopes of inspiring some festive dessert-making but just didn't get around to it in time.
That said, there will be no fretting over missed ice cream recipe opportunities on my part, because this cool treat is good any ol' day of the week. And it's sure to ignite some fireworks in your kitchen and your heart (figuratively speaking, of course).
Although I've accumulated a collection of handy gadgets and kitchen appliances throughout nearly six years (!!!) of blogging, I have yet to spring for an ice cream maker.
But who needs an ice cream maker when it's possible to make thick, creamy, scoopable ice cream without one? Heck if I know.
I'd rather reserve that prime cabinet and counter space for fun dishes, affordable antique flatware (that holds its own in a bowl of ice cream mind you), and colorful napkins. Photography priorities.
As it turns out, there are all sorts of tricks and tips to making vegan no-churn ice cream and some of them work better than others.
Sweetening the ice cream with puréed dates (since they don't freeze completely) is a trustworthy no-churn approach, but one of the most reliable methods is one that I learned from the brilliant Audrey Snowe of The Unconventional Baker. She uses a combination of dates and nut butter to make vegan ice cream that is delectably smooth, creamy, and churn-free.
If you have doubts, a mere glance at this caramel swirl ice cream will make you a believer. Pinky swear.
There are two parts to this no-churn delight:
1| The berry swirl.
The berry swirl is made with frozen mixed berries (whichever type you please) and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. The berries simmer until they break down into a sauce. Then, a slurry (small amount of the sauce + arrowroot starch) thickens the mixture into a berry swirl.
2| The strawberry ice cream base.
The strawberry ice cream base is made by blending together raw cashews, fresh strawberries, plant-based milk, medjool dates, raw cashew butter, a small amount of maple syrup, a splash of vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt until completely smooth. Note: a high-speed blender is must for a super-smooth ice cream base!
Once you have both parts prepared, it's time to assemble.
Pour half of the strawberry ice cream base into a parchment-lined pan, top with half of the berry mixture, and swirl the two together. Then, repeat with the remaining mixture and freeze for at least six hours to set the ice cream.
Then, to serve: remove the ice cream from the freezer for 15–20 minutes to soften and scoop to your heart's content.
You can enjoy the ice cream as is or, for a custard-like treat, add it to a food processor and blend for a minute, or until it takes on a thick soft-serve texture.
I prefer the latter method of enjoyment but the former is a close second. Because with ice cream this good, it's hard to go wrong.
Strawberry Ice Cream with Berry Swirl | Vegan, No-Churn
- 12 ounces frozen mixed berries (about 2 ½ cups—I used a combination of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch
Strawberry Ice Cream
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 to 2 hours (until plump and soft enough to blend), drained
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled (about 2 ½ to 3 cups hullled)
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened plant-based milk (I use almond milk)
- 1 cup pitted and packed soft + sticky Medjool dates (about 12 dates)
- ⅔ cup unsweetened raw cashew butter*
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
For the Berry Swirl
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the strawberries and maple syrup over medium-high heat. Bring to a rapid simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the fruit breaks down, stirring occasionally. Scoop out about ¼ cup of the mixture and whisk in the arrowroot starch, creating a slurry. Return the mixture to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat and use the back of a fork to mash any remaining berries into the sauce (it's okay if there are small bits of berries).
- Let cool.
For the Strawberry Ice Cream
- In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, strawberries, plant-based milk, dates, cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt. Blend on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until completely smooth.
- Meanwhile, line a freezer-safe loaf pan (about 5"x10") or container with parchment paper.
- Pour about half of the ice cream base into the lined pan and drizzle with the berry swirl. Use the pointy end of a chopstick or a toothpick to gently swirl into the ice cream base. Top with the remaining ice cream base and drizzle the surface with the remaining berry swirl. Again, use a toothpick or chopstick to gently swirl the mixture into the ice cream base.
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours, or until the ice cream is set.
- Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 to 20 minutes before scooping or serving. Dip an ice cream scoop in hot water and use it to scoop the ice cream. Serve as is or, for a custard-like treat, scoop as much ice cream as desired into a food processor and process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it takes on a thick soft-serve texture, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Store in the freezer, loosely covered, for up to one week.