Three years ago, I told my friend, Caity, I would come up with a dairy-free version of her favorite ice cream, Java Chip. She was worried at the time that she would need to go dairy-free because she was still having problems after her Celiac diagnosis. You see, her lifelong long battle for health started at a young age when food made her sick but she didn’t know how to communicate what was going on inside her. The only thing that didn’t make her sick was milk and ice cream. I bought her two pints of her favorite for her visit and she ate both before leaving. With all the craziness I kept abandoning the recipe then going back to it. Now after sticking with it for the last three weeks I think I found the key to a good dairy-free ice cream without using gums or eggs to keep it from freezing all the way through.
It’s my new best friend in the kitchen. Agar agar powder. The stuff I use in baked goods in place of eggs most of the time. It thickens the ice cream and gives it the same texture as real ice cream.
I tried the coffee several different ways. I used it as it was from the container. I cold brewed it overnight. I ground it down as fine as I could. Using it as it was from the container was too gritty. The cold brew didn’t have enough flavor and all I could taste was the the coconut milk and the raw cacao I used. That flop worked out because it fell on National Root Beer Float Day. Could you imagine a root beer float with this ice cream? I can’t. Grinding the coffee down some more in my coffee/spice grinder not only gave me the same flavor as not grinding it down, but it didn’t feel as gritty. I recommend using an espresso or a bold roast. I used both in my trials and those gave me the best results. And before you complain about the caffeine, I used decaf. Problem solved.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker and try to freeze this, it will freeze solid and will be more of an icy texture than ice cream texture.
Java Chunk Ice Cream
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons espresso/coffee, ground fine (I used Starbucks Decaf Cafe Verona in the final product)
1 tablespoon agar agar powder
1/2 cup raw local honey or Grade B maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup chocolate chunks or chips (I used Lindt 85% Chocolate bar)
Place all ingredients except for the chocolate in a blender and blend until all ingredients are incorporated well, scraping down the sides if needed. Pour into a prepared ice cream maker and churn for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the chocolate at the end and let it churn for about two minutes to mix the chocolate well.