This past weekend we celebrated one of my brother’s birthdays and I was in charge of making the ice cream. A lot of my family members are sensitive to milk so I wanted to experiment with a dairy-free version that everyone could enjoy. I’ve researched a lot online about dairy-free ice creams but have never found anything I felt really confident about, that even dairy-lovers would eat happily.
Finally I came across a recipe that was basically the same as my beloved vanilla ice cream but simply subbed coconut milk for the milk and cream. It made sense. Coconut milk is so thick and creamy, and made with a custard base, seemed to guarantee it creaminess. So, I whipped up a batch of Black Forest Ice Cream (thanks to freezing a couple batches of candied cherries this summer) and Classic Vanilla. I can’t believe it was so easy all along. It worked great.
People were so surprised when they found out the ice cream was dairy-free. Especially the chocolate, because you couldn’t taste the coconut milk at all. You could taste it slightly in the vanilla, but coconut and vanilla are definitely a yummy paring so there were no complaints. The consistency is slightly different than if you made it with full-fat milk and cream but it is still very creamy and far from being icy.
I’ll no longer be searching for specific dairy-free ice cream recipes and will instead just use my favourites and switch out the dairy with canned coconut milk. I found that two cans of regular sized coconut milk came to 3 cups, which was the perfect amount for both of the recipes above.
If you’ve got a dairy-free loved one in your life I encourage you to give this substitution a try. Nobody should have to miss out on the deliciousness of ice cream. And if you try it, let me know how it turns out for you!
*As far as I know, this won’t work as a substitute for recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk (like this no-churn ice cream) or recipes that call for cream that is whipped before folding in (such as with this semifreddo).