Kids in the Kitchen Series
Cherries are in season in the Okanagan and there are so many ways to enjoy them. I could only eat so many raw cherries, and I needed to expand my repertoire of ways how to use these beautiful cherries. With that in mind, I have been playing with recipes for cherry compote, cherry cordial, cherry Danish and the featured recipe, Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream.
There are members of my family who are dairy intolerant; so I developed my own version of a dairy-free dark cherry ice cream. One option is to use coconut milk for a dairy free alternative because it provides the same texture and creamy mouthfeel that an ice cream base made with cream would provide. Full Fat Coconut milk is quite expensive when compared to the cream that is used in regular ice cream. Therefore, for a number of reasons, I have used bananas to supplement the base mixture. Bananas add flavour and a natural sweetness to the base and are a more economical way to make dairy-free ice cream rather than using only coconut milk.
It is interesting to note that when bananas are utilized as a major ingredient in dairy-free ice cream, it is called “Nice Cream.” The term ‘Nice Cream’ has become a common culinary term. “Nice Cream” is defined by the process of puréeing or blending chunks of frozen bananas into a soft style ice cream. While I enjoy the smoothness of this frozen dessert, it does not hold up well when you serve it. The addition of coconut milk creates a much more stable velvety texture with a delicious creamy flavour. When chopped dark cherries are added, this dairy-free frozen treat is taken to a new level. I have included almond extract in the ingredients because it pairs so well with cherries (omit for nut allergies).
There is one ingredient that you might not expect in this dairy-free ice cream and that is gelatine powder. Gelatine helps with the texture of this dairy-free ice cream, which can often be as hard as a puck due to the lack of fat and sugar. CHEF’S NOTE: Granulated sugar is often used in ice cream recipes because it does not freeze and keeps the ice cream from over crystalizing. You can use any type of sugar (granulated, liquid sugar such as maple syrup, honey, etc.). Sugar unquestionably gives the ice cream a more familiar texture. As Julia Child said, “Everything in moderation – including moderation.” It is really all about balance in everything that you eat. As frozen desserts go, a small portion of this ice cream treat is a healthier and enjoyable dairy-free option. Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream is also gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free and nut-free (if you omit the almond extract).
Typically, I will have lots of cherries left over, so I also want to share with you a recipe on how to make a delicious Dark Cherry & Vanilla Compote that is ready in less than five minutes. Dollop a spoonful of this compote on top of a serving of Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream and you will have your guests and family coming back for seconds as this delicious compote goes so well with the Nice Cream.
Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream
Yield: 4 cups ice cream (1 litre)
CHEF TALK: This Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice “Nice” Cream benefits from churning in an ice cream maker to incorporate more air into the mixture, which produces a softer more ice cream-like texture; however, you can also make it as a no-churn ice cream. In that case, take it out of the freezer for at least 15 minutes to soften slightly before serving. My preferred method is the utilization of the ice cream maker for the reasons described.
- 1 teaspoon gelatine powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water (blooming)
- 2 very ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
- 2 cup fresh dark cherries, chopped coarsely (Note: reserve 1 cup for later)
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
- 1 tablespoon – 1/3 cup maple syrup, or honey or granulated sugar to your taste, depending on the sweetness of the bananas (See NOTE above regarding sugar)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- First, dissolve the gelatine in the 2 tablespoons of water and set aside to bloom.
- Using a blender or food processor, puree the frozen bananas until there is a mixture that looks like soft serve ice cream. Initially, it will look quite crumbly (like cottage cheese, then gradually changes to a lighter colour as it is pureed to a soft consistency). CHEF TIP: Very ripe bananas work best in this recipe (or any other baking recipe which requires bananas) due to their high level of sweetness and ease of mixing.
- Add 1 cup of chopped cherries and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds). This will change the colour of the “nice” cream to a dusty rose pink colour.
- Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, almond extract and maple syrup. Blend further for a few seconds to incorporate the rest of the ingredients.
- Warm the gelatine mixture to dissolve the gelatine. I do this by placing the small bowl of gelatine and water inside of another bowl that has hot water in it. A few seconds is all that is required to dissolve the gelatine to a clear liquid. Pour the now dissolved gelatine into the ice cream mixture, while pulsing for a few seconds to thoroughly mix the gelatine into the ice cream.
- Place the mixture into a shallow container, and fold in the reserved cup of chopped cherries with a spatula. This gives the “nice” cream a little more texture and colour.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap, and freeze for two hours, or until the ice cream is scoopable. CHEF TIP: If the ice cream has been in the freezer for longer than two hours, it might be too firm to scoop. Just leave at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes before serving and it will be scoopable.
In summary, there are a number of health benefits to making this dairy-free ice cream dessert. For starters, 1 cup of dark cherries is a natural antioxidant, with a total of approximately 85 calories. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, dietary fibre, and anthocyanins. A banana, on the other hand, has about 110 calories per medium size fruit and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and potassium. Finally, coconut milk is dairy free, nut free, can help lower cholesterol and inflammation, and is known to improve blood pressure and digestion.
Who knew that Dairy Free Ice “Nice” Cream could be so darn flavourful with all of these health benefits? A serving (1/4 – ½ cup) of this Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream is a lot lower in calories than ice cream made with heavy cream and sugar. Try it! You will be amazed.
Dark Cherry and Vanilla Compote – Gluten Free, Refined Sugar-Free
This compote recipe is adapted from Ricardo
CHEF TALK: Resist the urge to add additional liquid to this compote. Even though it is a large ratio of fruit to sugar/cornstarch, it is just enough to produce sufficient cherry juices and thicken the mixture to a silky and glossy sauce.
Yield: 3 cups (750 ml) Dark Cherry and Vanilla Compote
- ½ cup (105 g) organic cane sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cornstarch
- 4 cups (540 g) fresh or frozen cherries, pitted and halved
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar.
- Add the halved cherries and the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until the cherries are tender and the syrup thickens.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and the almond extract.
- Pour the compote into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the hot compote. CHEF TIP: Placing plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper directly on top of the mixture prevents a skin from forming on top of the sauce. Pierce the plastic wrap once with the tip of a knife. This technique also applies to some custards and pastry creams.
- Let the mixture cool slightly before refrigerating. Chill for 2 hours.
- The compote keeps for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, or for longer storage, freeze it in an airtight container.
Here is a visual step-by-step as to how to Make Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream:
A special mention of my Grandchildren, who helped with every aspect of this post, from setting up the ingredients, taking photographs and making (and eating) the Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream. They did a great job, didn’t they?
Please CLICK the link above to access my Urb’n’Spice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Basic Tools: The Simple Spatula
- Basic Tools: Scoops
- Blooming – Gelatine
- Extracts: Vanilla, Almond
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If you try my recipe for Dark Cherry Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice (Nice) Cream or Dark Cherry and Vanilla Compote, please leave me a comment below with your feedback.
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Did you Make my Recipe?
Livestrong – Health Benefits of Dark Cherries
Medical News Today – Health Benefits of Bananas
Dr Axe – Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
David Lebovitz – Tips for making Ice Cream