Last week I had to tell Sarah that I couldn’t make the No Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream for a recent supper party she was hosting, because there were no decent cherries left in the shops. Besides, as a last hurrah for English summer berries, I fancied making some no-sugar, no-dairy Strawberry Ice Cream instead. She wasn’t best pleased. The look of disappointment that flashed across her face immediately metamorphosed into disbelief. “How?”, she asked.
Sarah is always astonished when I cull ingredients that are considered intrinsic to a recipe’s success and the finished dish looks and tastes as good as the original. Nay, oftentimes better! At the heart of most yummy ice cream is a custardy concoction of sugar, cream or milk and egg yolks, but even substituting Paleo/Primal friendly ingredients like raw, organic honey or maple syrup for refined sugar, and raw organic cream or milk for industrially produced and processed dairy, doesn’t necessarily go far enough. Recent health scares within my own family have motivated me to make even more effort to support people whose bodies are already in a state of turmoil - their condition exacerbated by eating sugar or anything that turns to sugar - such as grains, potatoes, too much meat and high amounts of fructose (fruit sugar) in so-called healthy fruits.
So, undeterred by Sarah’s initial resistance to my suggestion of Strawberry Ice Cream and with more than a passing nod to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for the same in his book Light & Easy, I confidently told her it would prove to be a deliciously sophisticated dessert for her guests. I was right. I love its colour - a sort of soft, antique-pink, its creamy texture (I was almost tempted to rename it Strawberries n’ Cream Ice Cream!), and above all its intense, fresh strawberry flavour.
In theory, because both sugar and fat don’t freeze (butter does, but that’s because it contains water) you should never mess ‘willy-nilly’ with the amounts specified in ice cream recipes for either ingredient if you want to achieve a smooth, softer, less-icy texture. Also, before churning, the ice cream mixture needs to taste a bit sweeter than you think it should, because after freezing it will taste less so. Raw, runny honey à la Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version of strawberry ice cream, works well in frozen desserts - that’s until you’re trying to pare back on healthy sweeteners too. In this recipe I wanted sweetness without sugar, and creaminess without fat. The solution is alcohol. Like sugar and fat, alcohol won’t freeze so adding a tablespoon of pure, organic vodka to the ice cream mix before churning stops it from becoming too hard and makes it easier to scoop.
As regular readers of this blog will know, my preferred all-natural, safe alternative to refined sugar in all its guises is Sukrin. Free from calories and carbohydrates, Sukrin’s sweeteners have the aroma, sweetness and flavour of regular sugars but, according to Sukrin, none of the aftertaste found in most other sweeteners. Call me supersensitive, but I do sometimes experience a lingering, cooling taste-sensation in my mouth afterwards. To minimise this, I like to use Sukrin in combination with another sweetener - usually honey or maple syrup - rather than on its own. Nevertheless, to challenge my tastebuds and to see whether I could get away without any honey, I made two batches of ice cream. The first with Sukrin:1 in combo with a little honey and the second with just Sukrin:1. It seems the freezing process not only dumbs down sweetness but also, if it existed, any aftertaste.
Hurrah! There was no discernible difference between the two - they both tasted delicious, which means Primal Plate's Strawberry Ice Cream is good to go, even for vegans.
You should still be able to find British strawberries in the shops up until the end of September so don’t ‘snooze and lose’ like I did with Sarah’s cherries! Just make sure your strawberries are ripe and full flavoured so you can continue to enjoy a taste of summer for just a little while longer.
Strawberry Ice Cream (Serves 6)
75g raw, organic cashew nuts
100ml fresh, cold filtered water
1 large (or 2 small) organic bananas (unpeeled weight approximately 200g)
400g ripe strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon pure vodka (or Kirsch)
To Serve - optional
Extra strawberries, hulled and sliced
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Soak the cashews in cold, filtered water to cover for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Then drain.
Peel the banana and break into pieces then place in a high-powered blender with the drained cashews, Sukrin:1. and 100ml of fresh cold filtered water.
Blitz thoroughly until the mixture forms into a thick, creamy, smooth puree.
Add the strawberries, vodka and lemon juice and blitz again, just until smooth.
Pour the contents of the blender into a jug, then cover and chill in a refrigerator until cold.
Now churn the mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it’s soft-set.
Transfer the ice cream into a plastic freezer container, before smoothing off the top and pressing a piece of waxed paper (or cling film) directly onto the surface to stop ice crystals from forming. Cover with a lid and and place in the freezer until solid.
If you don’t have an ice cream machine, pour into a plastic freeze-proof container and freeze for about an hour until the sides start to get solid. Then mash with a fork to combine the solid ice cream at the sides of the container with the still liquid centre. Straightaway, put it back into the freezer for another half-hour then take it out again and repeat the mixing and mashing. Continue doing this every half hour until the ice cream is soft-set, then let it freeze solid.
About 30 minutes before serving remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften slightly.
Serve scoops of ice cream with sliced strawberries macerated in a little sieved Sukrin icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, if liked.
Always start scooping ice cream from the outer edge where it is softest. This stops ice crystals forming on the outer edges when it’s refrozen. Before returning to the freezer replace the waxed paper and the container lid.
N.B. If you have a sweet tooth and want to eat healthily, it’s best if you to stick with Sukrin’s all-natural sugar alternatives, 100% pure stevia, xylitol, raw honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, and coconut palm sugar.
Carbohydrate 9g Protein 3g - per serving of ice cream (without extra strawberries)