Chai Ice Cream (No Ice Cream Maker Required!)
[Smooth, creamy. . . and oh so easy!]
I’m so glad it’s ice cream season again, aren’t you? Not because it coincides with climbing temperatures (though the 25C (78F) and sunny days are certainly welcome). Not because it means the HH and I can bring The Girls down to the Beaches for lakeside walks (“We love that about summer, Mum!”). Not because I can spend the entire weekend wearing nothing more than my bathing suit. (Kidding. Like that’s going to happen).
No, I’m glad it’s ice cream season because. . . well, I get to eat ice cream more often, silly!
When I was a child, the only ice cream we ever had in our home came in square cardboard cartons. I loved it when my mom bought Chocolate Ripple or Chocolate Chip or (later) Heavenly Hash, but when she catered to my father’s tastes and brought home a brick of Neapolitan, well, a little ingenuity was required to work around the dreaded strawberry stripe (which was my dad’s favorite). With the precision of a surgeon, I’d scrape around and under the pink section to snare more chocolate and vanilla while ensuring that, on the surface, all three flavors still appeared in equal proportions. (Now if only I’d applied that same concentration to my geography class. . . ).
Apart from the shrinking blocks of ice cream at home, my favorite dairy-based treats appeared when our family moved to the country for the summer months. To my sisters and me, living in a wooden shack without a TV, electric stove or reliable hot water was a true adventure (I can only imagine, these days, how my mom managed with three young children).
We girls would spend the daylight hours entirely outdoors, playing hide-and-seek with the neighbors’ kids in the nearby woods, carving our names into the dirt by the side of the road with sticks, selecting perfect stones from those that washed up on the beach or helping Mom with the laundry by first drenching our clothes in the lake, then peeling them off before tossing them into the ringer washer that stood like a totem on the wooden porch. By the end of August, the grey dust from the side of the road had worked its way permanently into the creases in the back of my neck, my tank top was traced in reverse by tan lines, and my hair, stringy from being drenched repeatedly in sandy beach water, was two or three shades lighter than it had been at the beginning of the season.
One of the highlights of our days was hearing the distinctive jangling melody of the ice cream truck. Like church bells on helium, the clanging sounds to tunes like “Ring Around the Rosie” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” drew children out from behind bushes, from beaches, from within wooden cottages or away from frolicking with beloved pets. We came running from all corners of the street, coins clasped tightly in our fists, to swarm around the tiny trucks like paparazzi surrounding Brad and Angelina. Then came the negotiations:
“A lime Sno-cone, please.”
“I’ll have a small chocolate soft serve.”
“Medium vanilla cone, dipped.”
[Or, for really special occasions]: “Banana Split.”
The man behind the sliding window would reach down and magically withdraw whatever it was we’d ordered.
I always chose a vanilla-chocolate twist, dipped. This was a combination of soft-serve vanilla and chocolate ice creams intertwined in a spiral, the top of which ended in a curved peak. The ice-cream man inverted it into a vat of warm, melted chocolate (or what would be called “chocolatey coating” today), turned it back upright, and let it sit for just a few seconds for the chocolate to set before proffering it to the salivating customer. My tactic was to begin at the tip, eating the barely-solid coating right away before it firmed up, moving down to where it met the cone (at which point the chocolate was entirely solid and would split into brown shards, which I caught eagerly with my tongue before licking up any spills of melted ice cream beneath it).
Whichever type of cone we got that day, whether flat-bottomed or pointed, we’d poke a hole in the bottom and suck the softened ice cream through it before consuming the remainder of the treat.
Funny how the lens of childhood seems to paint items like ice cream trucks or soft-serve cones just a little more brightly, with colors a little more intense, than they appear in adulthood. When we moved to our current neighborhood, I was delighted to discover that a similar truck began to make its rounds through the streets in late May, summoning local crowds of children from the area. When we first heard it, the HH and I sauntered over, waited amid the group of children, and each ordered a cone. Somehow, my usual medium twist, dipped, had lost its allure; the ice cream was flavorless as frozen glue, the coating a sheen of dark brown wax. I came home disappointed, the memory of childhood shattered like the hardened chocolate on the cone.
These days, I’d much prefer a bowl of this dairy-free, sugar-free, low glycemic Chai Ice cream that I’m sharing today. I whipped up a batch the other night, and we’ve enjoyed it twice more since then (the last time with a homemade chocolate shell that far outshone the chocolatey coating of my youth). And even though I do own an ice cream maker, I always tend to use my processor method, which to me seems quicker and easier.
Nowadays, when we hear the distinctive chimes making their way along the street, Elsie runs to the front door and peers out the window with her hackles up, emitting a low, stifled growl from the back of her throat.
I like to imagine that she’s assessing the quality of the treats in that truck.
Good Girl, I say.
“Yes, Mum, I’m what you’d call a connoisseur of treats. And if you’d kindly let me lick that bowl of ice cream once you’re done, I promise to keep growling at strange men in trucks for you.”
Chai Ice Cream (No Ice Cream Maker Required!)
Although I’m not a fan of actual Chai tea, I adore this combination of spices in other desserts–like this ice cream. Of course, you could use any tea flavor you prefer, as long as it’s robust and flavorful.
1 cup (240 ml) plain or vanilla rice milk
2 chai tea bags (I used herbal, but regular black Chai would work, too)
2 medium pears, cored (no need to remove peel)
1/2 cup (80 g) raw cashews
1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk
pinch fine sea salt
10-15 drops plain or vanilla stevia, to your taste (optional)
If you have an ice cream maker, set it up according to manufacturer’s directions. Otherwise, set 8 silicone muffin cups in a muffin pan, or set out two silicone ice cube trays.
Pour the rice milk into a small pot and add the teabags. Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes; turn off heat. Press the teabags with the back of a spoon to bring out as much flavor as possible, then remove the teabags from the liquid.
Place the milk and remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth.
With an ice cream maker: Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions for ice cream. Serve.
With a food processor: Pour the mixture into the silicone muffin cups or silicone ice cube tray and freeze until firm; pop out of the cups or tray and into ziploc bags. Store in the freezer until ready to use.
When you’re ready to make ice cream, use 1 muffin-sized disk or 4 ice cubes per serving. Chop the muffin disk into 4 pieces. Place in the food processor and process until it resembles crumbs. Press down with a rubber spatula, then continue to process just until the mixture begins to come together in a ball. Scoop and serve. Makes 6-8 servings. Store frozen.
Suitable For: Anti-Candida Diet Stage 2 and beyond; Dairy-Free; Sugar-Free; Low-Glycemic; Egg-Free; Vegan.
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Other Ice Creams and Creamy Desserts on DDD:
- Rhubarb Swirl Ice Cream (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
- Strawberry Chia Fluff (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
- Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream (gluten free; ACD all stages)
- Mint Chip Ice Cream (gluten free; ACD all stages)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs