Archive for the 'Wheat-Free' Category



Rice Crispy Bars

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Rice Crispy Treats hold specific childhood sensory memories for me, and probably for a lot of adults as well. This sticky, sweet, crunchy, crispy, gooey, on-the-go, lick-your-fingers-afterwards, all at the same time experience is what childhood was all about. I got this recipe for a similar treat from my friend Marjorie awhile ago, and hadn’t had quite the right reason to make it till now. Brown rice syrup is much easier for your body to process than the cane sugar and additives that are in most baked goods. Since these rice crispies are stuck together and sweetened with the sweet syrup, they are a much healthier version than the traditional marshmallow dessert. However, these bars definitely don’t taste exactly like the marshmallow version; they aren’t as sickeningly sweet and they have the added tart flavors of dried fruit and the crunch of seeds, as well as the salty nutty taste of tahini. They are not kid-friendly in this sense, unless you have a particularly adventurous child.

This was lucky for me, as Marjorie used to make these and her kids wouldn’t want to eat them, so there were always some left for me to snack on! I would want to devour the whole container while I was at her house, but I’d hold myself back and enjoy these simple flavors and textures slowly. It’s very simple and nutritious – it’s one of those treats that is actually pretty healthy, although you do have to remember it’s a treat still, so you shouldn’t eat too much at a time…It was a perfect treat to take on a hike; it was a bit like an energy bar because it had all the necessary proteins and carbs to give us strength and energy to keep going, it was light and easy to pack and carry, and it satisfied all our sweet and salty cravings. And it was quite filling too!

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You can make it with whatever dried fruits you like best (I think that currants, apricots, raisins, or dried apples would taste delicious) and whatever seeds or chopped nuts you want to add would work too. While I just used crispy brown rice cereal as my base, you could throw in a combination of puffed rice, puffed millet, and puffed rice as well, as long as it equaled the same total amount. It’s a very adaptable recipe.

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This recipe makes 2 dozen squares.

Ingredients:
2 tsp. cold-pressed sesame oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tblsp. sesame tahini (or other nut butter of choice)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 cups plain unsweetened crispy brown rice cereal
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

In a large pot, heat oil, rice syrup, and tahini; stir until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Add remaining ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Spoon mixture into a 13×9 inch pan and press flat. Allow to sit at room temperature until set.
Then, cut into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Cherry Tomato Cupcake Poppers

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It seems like everyone’s tomato plants are bursting with red ripe tomatoes of all sizes. I’ve been making lots of fresh tomato salads and sauces, and eating them plain right off the vine. What a glorious hot summer treat!

Last year, I made Tomato Cupcakes for a tomato party that I hosted at my apartment. This year, my friends Rachel, Dia, and Kelly hosted their own tomato party, but this time with a little twist; their garden was overflowing with cherry tomatoes, so it was really a Cherry Tomato Party! I’ve been super busy and didn’t feel like I had time to experiment with creating a completely new tomato-based dessert recipe, so I just adapted my Tomato Cupcake recipe from last year. Because of the cherry tomato theme, I baked these in mini cupcake tins, so they were small and cute like the tiny tomatoes that we were celebrating. I also made them gluten-free for one of the hosts.

I based my recipe on the Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I adapted the recipe to add tomato into it so it would be similar to the tomato-chocolate cake recipe from one of my favorite children’s books Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. In this story, a young girl visits her grandmother’s farm and is frightened by the loud thunder that she hears at the beginning of an oncoming midwest thunderstorm. She hides under the bed in fear, until her grandmother coaxes her out by the promise of baking a delicious chocolate cake. She sends the child around the farm to collect all the ingredients, and she has to count the seconds between thunder and lightning to make sure she’ll get home before the storm really hits. They bake the cake and get to eat it just as the rain starts pouring down outside their cozy farmhouse. It is a very sweet story with a sweet ending – the recipe is included in the back of the book! The secret ingredient in this cake is the tomato puree that they put into it, and I used to make this cake when I was growing up all the time (along with the Lightnight Cake from Joy of Cooking). Last year, I simply veganized it, but this year wanted to make it gluten-free as well.

Unlike many gluten-free desserts, these came out light and fluffy and you couldn’t even tell they were gluten-free. I think this had a lot to do with the tapioca flour, which I’ll be using more since I liked the outcome so much! The cakes were decidedly chocolatey and you couldn’t really taste the tomato in the batter – next time I might work on this a little bit, to see if I can get the flavor to come out a little more. The tomato paste in the frosting has a stronger taste, but it’s sweet and combines with the cream cheese nicely (bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes on top are delicious, why not in frosting form?). The idea of tomato paste in the frosting seems to put everyone off from them before they taste it, but after the first bite they are addicted – I think everyone ate at least two of these little cupcake poppers!

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Tomato Cupcake Ingredients:
2 large ripe red tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Tomato Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
3 oz. Tofutti cream cheese
1 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
3 Tblsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Cherry Tomatoes on Foodista

Preheat oven to 350*F and line muffin tray with cupcake liners, or grease the pan well.
Blend your tomatoes in a blender or food processor. You only need 1 cup of this tomato puree, so you can measure that out and set aside.
In a measuring cup, combine almond milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle for a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of tomato puree, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed to make sure the sugar is thoroughly combined. Add the almond milk/vinegar mixture and stir in.
In a medium bowl, combine all the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift this dry mix into your wet mix. Mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes. It’s important to mix really well and you don’t have to worry about over-mixing because there is no gluten.
Fill cupcake tins a little over three-quarters full. These won’t rise as much as traditional cupcakes so you can fill them a little more than usual.
If you use a regular muffin tin, then bake for 20-23 minutes. If you used a mini muffin pan, bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and margarine together with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the tomato paste and continue beating. You can add more or less tomato paste, depending on your flavor preference. Add the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl a quarter cup at a time, beating well in between each addition. When smooth, you can spread the frosting onto the tops of your cupcakes. I topped mine with some cherry tomato stems.

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Gluten Free Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies

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A lot of people in my life have been trying to cut down on the amount of processed sugars, wheat, and/or gluten in their diets. I’m always excited and interested in baking experiments, and want everyone to be able to have a treat, so I decided to bake some cookies that my friends could eat. I knew that one of them specifically loves peanut butter cookies, and another loves peanut butter in any form, so I decided that more peanut butter baking was the way to go. Usually when I bake gluten-free desserts, I use a mix of rice flour and almond meal, but having neither on hand, I had to get creative. I made a mix of gluten-free flours that was very nutty, and was a little worried that the cookies would turn out too heavy and dense. I used coconut flour and quinoa flour (both protein packed!) and threw in some tapioca flour to lighten it up. In the end, I decided that the coconut flour really complimented the PB very well, so I’m glad I went with that. The cookies were not too heavy and they were chewy just the way a regular peanut butter cookie should be.

While coming up with the recipe, I realized that I’ve never actually baked using agave as my primary sweetener. I planned to use it this time, but when looking through my cupboards I happened to have some dried dates in the house, and had seen some recipes using date paste as a sweetener, so I decided to mix the two in this recipe. I think they gave the cookies a really nice natural flavor, yet they didn’t make them taste too “healthy”.

The cookies had a great reception (and they were even appreciated by friends who eat regular sugar- and wheat gluten-laden desserts! Some even said they couldn’t taste the difference).

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Ingredients:
*This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies

Wet Mix:
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened, natural, peanut butter (try to use a kind where the oil doesn’t separate out)
3/4 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup medium agave
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder + 2 Tblsp. warm water, blended till frothy
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk

Dry Mix:
1 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie pan with a silpat baking sheet.
Place about 3/4 cup dates in a bowl of boiling water, and set aside for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Pour out the hot water from the bowl of dates, and place dates in a blender along with about 1/3 cup of new water. Blend on high until it forms a paste (add a little more water if needed).
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry mix and stir with a large wooden spoon. You may have to work the dough with your hands in order to fully combine all ingredients.
Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place the balls on your prepared pan 1-2 inches apart (these cookies will not spread).
Slightly flatten the dough with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern.
Bake 11-13 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan for 5 minutes to set, and then remove with a spatula and cool on wire racks.

Sweet Summer Sorbets

We’re in the counting-down-stage for the last days (hours even!) of summer. I start school tomorrow to get my teaching credential and Masters in Education. I’m eagerly looking forward to starting classes; I’ve been so interested in teaching, working with children and youth, and reading about pedagogy for so long, and I’m finally going to have a community to discuss and challenge all my ideas with. I have so many reasons to be excited about this school year beginning. But there’s a part of me that is still savoring these last days of freedom, outdoors time, and sun on my skin. I’ve been consciously enjoying all the free time that I have right now, since I’ll be working on overload for the next year (or forever, since teaching is not an easy job!). To celebrate all the summer fruits and flavors that I can get a hold of, and to appreciate summer just a little bit more, I made some refreshing sorbets. There are still beautiful pungent strawberries at the Farmer’s Markets here in California, and peaches and other stone fruits are ripe, juicy, and incredibly sweet, so into the blender and then the ice cream maker they went!

Both of these sorbets had just the right consistency; icy yet smooth, creamy, and sparklingly flavorful. They tasted just like the fruits that were in them, and I can’t think of a better summer snack – in fact, I dare say that these sorbets taste like summer!

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Strawberry Lime Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 lbs. fresh strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup fresh mango, cubed
5 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add more or less sugar and lime till you reach your desired taste.
Place in an ice cream maker and churn as per the directions.
Your ice cream may be very soft when done, and you can certainly eat it that way, but you could also place it in your freezer and it will firm up overnight. If you choose to do this, transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface. Cover and freeze the sorbet until firm, about 3-4 hours.
*This recipe makes about 3 cups.

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Interesting fact: Did you know that peaches and nectarines, along with almonds, are part of the rose family? Thanks, Wikipedia!

Ginger Peach Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches and nectarines (I used 4 peaches and 2 nectarines)
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
2 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp. Amaretto liqueur

Pit, peel, and coarsely chop the peaches and nectarines.
Place fruit, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined.
With the machine running, pour water, lemon juice, and Amaretto through the feeding tube and process for 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved.
Refrigerate this mixture until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Pour the chilled fruit mix into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface. Cover and freeze the sorbet until firm, about 3-4 hours.
*This recipe makes about 3 cups.

Cherry Chocolate Amaretto Crunch Ice Cream

It’s been hot here in Bay Area these past few weeks. Let’s be honest, I’ve experienced some terribly hot temperatures on the East Coast and in the Southern United States, and I’ve certainly heard about the hot temperatures that grace many other countries. But I’m a born and raised Bay Area Native, and my blood is definitely accustomed to our coastal cool foggy mornings and blue-sky-but-still-need-a-light-sweatshirt afternoons. Don’t get me wrong; I love to wear my summer dresses and I’m much happier with flip-flops on my feet than a pair of close-toed shoes. But I don’t happen to live in a year-round hot climate, like many non-Californians often think we do (once, when I was in high school and was traveling, I was asked if I “surf to school”…I chose to ignore that, because aside from any logistical nightmares about carrying your homework on your surfboard through white-capped waves, and how to change clothes from your wetsuit to something cute and fashionable to impress all your high school cliques, I’ve never been on a surfboard in my life).

Warmish temperatures is what my summer is made up of. But, we also get a few weeks of hot sun in August, and there is usually a few weeks of intense heat in September just after school starts, taunting students out of the classroom and onto the playground, or older youth to cut class and go sit in the nearby park or drive out to the beach. However, while this is what I’m used to, I’m reveling in our rare summer heat right now, and making as much ice cream as possible while the heat lasts. Because that is the most sane way to cope with it, and it’s a little painful to think about turning the oven on during the afternoon or evening.

My friend Sasha told me that one of her favorite ice cream flavors is chocolate cherry, and I was having dinner at her house, so I decided to make that for her and her housemates! I used the basic chocolate ice cream recipe from The Vegan Scoop as my base, but I added chopped fresh cherries at the end. This was the second ice cream I’ve made with a purely soymilk base, and I was disappointed with the cream’s thinness before freezing. I probably will not be making any more soy ice creams, but in the future I’ll be adapting recipes from this book to use other non-dairy alternatives. I added a few ingredients to thicken it up (extra dark chocolate melted in!) and Amaretto Liqueur and almond extract to give more body and a flavor kick. I also threw in some chocolate chips at the end with the cherries so there was a nice crunch in every bite. I forgot that adding alcohol would make the ice cream freeze a lot slower, and didn’t account for that time difference when prepping the ice cream; We ended up eating slightly melty ice cream, but it tasted delicious even if the texture wasn’t perfect. I re-froze the left overs and when I checked the next morning, the ice cream had a much harder texture…So if you choose to use this recipe, I would make sure to leave it in the freezer overnight before eating.

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Ice Cream Base Ingredients:
1 cup soymilk, divided
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2 cups soy creamer
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix Ins:
1 1/2 cups fresh pitted and chopped cherries
1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks
2 Tblsp. Amaretto Liqueur
1/2 tsp. almond extract

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In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot powder and set aside.
Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stirring frequently over low heat, melt chocolate chips, then bring to a boil. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.
Add vanilla extract.
Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours (or stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed up the process…You want it cold, not frozen, so make sure to monitor your mixture if you choose to do this). When thoroughly chilled, mix in your Amaretto and almond extract. Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
In the last few minutes of churning in your ice cream maker, add your chopped cherries and remaining cup of chocolate chips. Freeze overnight, or until hardened, in an airtight container.

Blood Orange Coconut Sherbet

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Sherbet usually has a bit of dairy in it, but making a fruity and creamy coconut milk-based ice cream made a great vegan alternative sherbet. My friend Zoe brought me some lovely oranges fresh from the orange tree in her backyard, and we had a blood orange syrup stashed away in the fridge, and my new ice cream maker, so it all seemed to add up to making a blood orange sherbet. I was so excited to use my new ice cream maker, that I didn’t realize how long the bowl was supposed to be frozen in the freezer previous to adding ingredients, and so the ice cream didn’t firm up as much as it should have. But it made a darn good cold and creamy dessert anyway, perfect for a summer afternoon. Just a little meltier than I had imagined…

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups coconut cream
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup blood orange syrup (already sweetened)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, ground fairly finely (but not to a powder)

Blend all ingredients except the chocolate in a blender. Add to your ice cream maker and make according to it’s instructions (i.e.: Make sure you freeze yours long enough – unless you want a melty but delicious mess like I created). Just before the ice cream is done mixing in the machine, add the ground chocolate chips and make sure they get thoroughly combined. Enjoy!

Wheat-Free Blueberry Muffins

To finish my epic blue baking week, I give you blueberry muffins!IMG_9946

My friend Freya doesn’t like blueberries. But we had picked so many of them! I had to convince her they would be good, somehow. She said she would only like them if they were in muffins, so that’s what we had for last Sunday’s breakfast. Fresh out of the oven, they were wonderful! They didn’t last longer than that, but I’m sure they would have been great once cooled as well. Freya enjoyed them, as did the rest of the group, which was proved by how quickly the muffins were polished off. And, Freya even enjoyed my blueberry pie, so maybe we’ve got a blueberry convert on our hands 🙂

I adapted this recipe from How It All Vegan, and the original recipe said it would make only 6 muffins, but didn’t say what size. I think they must have been using the Texas-sized muffin pans because I was able to make 12 muffins from this recipe. They were somewhat short, but not abnormally. You can choose how high to fill your tins, the muffins don’t rise too much. Also, you can substitute any type of berry you want in these versatile muffins! Blueberries were very good, but I think raspberry would be quite nice too, or even a mix of berries. Continue reading ‘Wheat-Free Blueberry Muffins’

Pick-Your-Own Blueberry Pie

IMG_9911The next item in my unintentional blue-baking series was a delicious blueberry pie. It all started when my friends wanted to get out of New York City, and drive up to the countryside to see trees! I am generally very excited about trees, so I was definitely not opposed to this idea, and hopped in the car. We drove up near where our college was, did the required walking around, seeing buildings that had been important to us, eating a baby-sized burrito from the local burrito stand, and feeling weirded out by being on campus…Then we ventured out into the farmlands and picked bucketfuls of blueberries to take home and share with all the other city kids so they could have a taste of “wilderness”. Picking the blueberries was fun and we got very muddy (more country to take home to the city!), and certainly ate a lot of blueberries before they ended up in our buckets. Yum. Here is a photo of some of our bounty:IMG_9895What to do with all these tart juicy blueberries? Bake them into a pie of course! I usually use my dear friend and pie-guru Wilbur’s never-fail crust recipe, but I didn’t have it on hand this time…I braved a cookbook, and found a crust that looked good in Vegan Planet which they use in their Brandy Apple Pie recipe. I made it using white spelt flour, and it came out just right: Buttery, flaky, moist, and delicious. I pricked the bottom crust with a fork half a dozen times, and moved onto the filling. I forgot to measure the amount of blueberries that I used, but basically I just filled up the pie crust till it was nearly overflowing with berries! This was approximately 4 cups of berries. I sprinkled these blueberries with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, and about 1/4 cup of spelt flour to help it hold together. I piled this mixture inside the crust, making a huge dome, and put a full top crust on top. After pressing the edges together and pricking the top with a fork (in a pretty pattern…We made an “X” but you can choose your own!), it was time to put this baby in the oven. With the oven preheated to 450 degrees, I stuck the pie in, but immediately turned the temperature down to 350 so the pie gets a blast of heat but the insides get more slowly cooked. Make sure to put your pie on an upper rack of the oven, and a large pan on the rack underneath your pie as a catchment system for any drips. My pie dripped a lot, so we ended up with sweet blueberry syrup that could be poured over ice cream or pancakes. Bake your pie for 50-60 minutes, and take it out when the crust is nicely golden.

We let the pie cool for about an hour, and then sliced and ate it with big scoops of vanilla soy ice cream. It was a little goopy when we first ate it, but the next morning the filling had set better. It was delicious for breakfast!

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Blue Corn Chocolate Chip Cookies

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On my way home from my vacation in Holland, I stopped in New York to visit friends. Of course I had to bake while I was there! The funny thing was, and I didn’t think of this till now, was that everything I made was blue! That’s a fairly uncommon color for baked goods, but it just happened that way…The first thing I made, I baked with my friend (and old roommate!) Erin, and we made chocolate chip cookies with blue cornmeal in them. They were tender and chewy, and had a nice grainy crunchy texture because of the cornmeal. The dough was blueish-purple with tiny specks of blue, and when they baked they retained a similar color, although got nicely browned on the edges. The dough was particularly tasty, and though this recipe makes a small batch, Erin and I certainly consumed a lot of dough before the cookies even made it into the oven!

We were baking also for a friend who is wheat-free, so we used a white spelt flour that they had on hand. My experience with spelt flour is that it works very similarly to regular all-purpose wheat flour, sometimes coming out a little heavier once baked. This white spelt though was no problem, and worked just how I think AP flour would have baked too. Feel free to substitute AP flour in yours if you don’t have spelt on hand though, the conversion should be the same.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt
1/2 cup Earth Balance (room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup blue cornmeal
3/4 cup white spelt flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use an ungreased cookie sheet, set aside.
Cream Earth Balance and sugar together, then add vanilla and yogurt. Now add the blue cornmeal, flour, and baking powder; mix well, fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Makes 1 dozen cookies, plus a little batter for eating raw (the benefits of being vegan!).IMG_9856

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

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Tara did it again! The powers combined of Jesse’s favorite flavors (and mine too!) plus Tara’s ice cream making genius, there was clearly no going wrong this time. The deep and dark richness of the chocolate was brought out by the coconut milk, which really just lent it’s flavor and texture to the smoothness of the ice cream – you couldn’t taste it directly. It worked very well with the peanut butter, creating a smooth cream that was undeniably out of this world. We also found some Soyatoo Whipped Rice Cream (vegan whipped cream in a can!) at the store, and made a warm caramel sauce, and busted both of those out for ultimate ice cream sundae galore!

Ingredients:
1 cup of coconut cream
1 cup non-dairy milk (we used soy, but any of the richer non-dairy milks could work too, like almond or hemp milk)
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, depending on your flavor preference
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

Blend all ingredients together. It should have the consistency of a thick smoothie. Taste and make sure you like your combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and adjust accordingly. Add the chopped dark chocolate at the last minute so it doesn’t get blended completely. Then you simply place this mixture in an ice cream maker, and follow your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. Top liberally with vegan whipped cream and caramel sauce, and you could even throw on some rainbow sprinkles and a cherry if you’ve got them on hand! This would also be great as a milkshake, if you make the ice cream and then blend it with a bit of extra non-dairy milk.


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