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« A Look Back: 2012 In Recipes | Main | Candy Cane Cupcakes »

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

I've missed ice cream. It seems like a silly thing to say, but it's true. Growing up, rarely a week passed by where I didn't have a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate sauce or a banana split for dessert. I come from an ice cream-loving family, where chocolate syrup is an anchor in the kitchen cupboard. As I grew older, I'd often mix my own blended ice cream coffee shop drinks, enjoying my own twist on a mocha. However, after I discovered I'm lactose intolerant this summer after taking on a month long vegan challenge, I haven't had more than a few spoonfuls of ice cream since.

While the absence of ice cream was easy to handle at first, the cravings have slowly crept up on me until it finally became time to do something about it. I actually put dairy-free chocolate ice cream on my holiday list this year.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

A few months ago, I was really struggling with my newly required dairy-free eating habits. I shared my difficulties with you, a mixture of confusion in how to approach eating and lamentations at the loss of my old lifestyle. Looking back, I realize now that I was grieving. Grieving for the loss of milk and cream, for butter and for cheese. I had moments of denial, when I'd order a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger at a restaurant. I was angry and upset at my body, telling anyone who talked about my favorite dairy-filled foods to wash their mouths out with heavy cream. I tried to justify my actions, telling myself the pain I would feel later was absolutely worth that piece of caramelized bread pudding (and, of course, it never was).

While some people can embrace new eating habits with ease, I needed time to sort my feelings out, to let go of the foods I had eaten and loved my entire life. Over the last few months I have been in the process of acceptance, but I finally, finally, feel like I've reached it.

I never knew such feelings could arise out of food.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

While some baked goods are effortless to convert to dairy-free, ice cream is one of those sneaky desserts that is difficult to make without its namesake—cream. I've tried several of the dairy-free brands in the stores with disappointing results. With an unpronounceable ingredient list and a texture that resembles marshmallow cream or shaved ice, they leave much to be desired. As is the case when the supermarket fails me, I look to the kitchen and my own ingenuity to make something better than I can find.

Oh, let me tell you, this is exactly what I've been craving.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream is bright, satisfying, and perfect for those in your life with a milk allergy or intolerance. The richness of the ice cream comes from full-fat coconut milk. Do note, however, that the final product will have a subtle coconut aftertaste which cannot be avoided (but for me, a coconut lover, it was an added bonus). The ice cream isn't too sweet, with a deep chocolate flavor coming from cocoa powder. This ice cream is the real deal—smooth, creamy, and an excellent dairy-free ice cream alternative.

Note: Straight from the freezer, this ice cream will have an icy texture. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes on the counter (or a few seconds in the microwave) and the texture will transform into the one you know and love.

Two Years Ago: Gingerbread Cheesecake

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

Yields about 1 quart

28 fl ounces (2 cans or 800 ml) full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup (110 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, warm coconut milk over medium heat. Do not allow to boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add about 1 cup warmed coconut milk and whisk until the mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. Whisk in the egg yolks one at time, mixing well between additions. Slowly add cocoa mixture to the warmed coconut milk, whisking quickly to incorporate.

Simmer over medium heat until coconut milk base thickens enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to a heat-proof container and refrigerate until cold.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to a plastic airtight container and freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.

Reader Comments (31)

This ice cream looks so decadent and creamy. I'm not lactose intolerant, but I still think it looks amazing! :) I asked for an ice cream maker for Christmas/Birthday, so maybe I'll get one and I'll be able to dabble in some ice cream recipes like this :)
Umm...YES! This looks awesome!
I love your blog. Your food photography is so beautiful.

You should totally visit my friend's blog:
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
I have a daughter who is lactose intolerant. I can't wait to try some ice cream recipes with coconut milk.
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachelle
Although I can eat dairy, I love the idea of this vegan ice cream. It looks so intensely chocolate--can't wait to taste it!
12.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterVespa Woolf
This is the WORST/BEST blog I have just stumbled upon. Mainly because it's amazing, but I will get hungry and then chubby haha my obsession with baked goods just got it's fix! xxx
12.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmmy
Real sorbetto di cioccolato (extra dark!)(and preferably from Grom) is so decadent and rich that you cannot believe it is sans cream- so I highly recommend it!

I love your idea of the coconut milk for the ice cream- I generally use it for vegan chocolate tartlets and truffles, and also love the slight coconut after taste.
12.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaola @gnom-gnom
I have been having lactose intolerance for the past year and its really hard to wrap my head around. Punishing my body, because my taste-buds just want that little extra sweet, salty, tangy punch, sounds good in theory. In practice, it sucks pretty bad. I will have to try this coconut milk ice cream. Until then, I'm making hot chocolate with almond milk.
12.24.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Love chocolate coconut ice cream! This is my go-to recipe and was interested in knowing what difference the eggs make? Not just for this ice cream but also in general? Thanks
12.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBubs
Bubs-- Egg yolks turn the base into a custard by adding more fat, giving the ice cream a smooth, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel. Ice cream made with a straight milk base (without egg yolks) tends to be more icy, less smooth and creamy, and freezes much harder. Hope that helps!
12.26.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Looks delicious! Now I just need an ice cream maker!
12.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPamela
Hard to believe the ice cream is dairy free. You have me craving for some now.
12.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArchana
The ice cream looks totally amazing. Rich with chocolate. You could never tell of an absence of dairy just looking at it. Bet it tastes great too.
Our bodies often tell us what's good for us. We don't always listen. It is great you took the time and discovered what your system needed. Change is hard, but here's wishing you the best. Judging by this recipe, you'll do awesome.
Happy holidays!
12.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharmila
Looks delicious! When do you incorporate the vanilla?
01.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSigne
Signe-- Thanks for catching that! I fixed the recipe above to reflect the changes.
01.13.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
I found your website today via a pin of your tiramisu cake and I must say that the website is very nice. The photography is excellent and I now want to make all of the recipes.

I'm allergic to dairy so I've been looking for non-dairy ice cream recipes. This one looks nice and rich, definitely a must try.
01.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSchweet Life
Just made this ice cream for my lactose intolerant dad and brother...they are in love! I was a bit skeptical at first as i love all things dairy, but i'm struggling not to eat the whole container myself! It does not taste dairy free at all, it's one of the best chocolate ice creams i've had, thank you so much!
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBek
I thought I'd never see the day when I'd admit, "Ice cream isn't worth it.." However, milk picked one too many fights with me and I gave in-now I miss ice cream a lot.
So excited to try your recipe and I love the photography!
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney
You may want to change how you label this recipe. It certainly is NOT vegan as it contains eggs. It is disappointing for people that actually need or want truly vegan recipes. It looks delicious though.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJBG
JBG-- I never advertised this recipe as being vegan. You are correct, it is not vegan because there are eggs in it. However, there is no dairy in it which is why this ice cream is good for people who are lactose or milk intolerant.
01.26.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
This looks delicious and I'm eager to try it! Both my boyfriend and I are lactose intolerant and really miss ice cream. One question - does the flavor of coconut come through? I wouldn't mind it but the boyfriend doesn't like coconut.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTMac
I made your recipe that was posted on another blog and it came out very bitter. You need to change the ratio of sugar to cocoa powder. In other recipes I have made, there is close to double the amount of sugar to the cocoa powder. When I increased the sugar, it had a much more well-rounded flavor.
Thanks for the recipe, my daughter is lactose intolerant and will love it.
01.31.2013 | Unregistered Commentermary
Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it for my boyfriend and he loved it. So now I'm dying to experiment with other flavors, such as strawberry or even butter pecan, but most recipes call for both milk and heavy cream. While I can substitute the milk for coconut milk, I don't know what to use in place of the heavy cream. Any tips? Have you tried any flavors other than chocolate?
02.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNavyJ
Hello...Looks great but it's not vegan if there are eggs in the recipe :)
02.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTara
Just pinned this! After figuring out that he's allergic to dairy, an allergy that came on suddenly, my boyfriend has been missing desserts. Ice cream in particular. I have to try this out...whenever I can get that ice cream maker. Just a question though...have you used any of the other types of dairy free milk? Like almond milk for example? That's what we typically use when a recipe calls for milk. We love the thicker texture and the taste. Is there a reason it would absolutely have to be coconut milk, besides preference?
04.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Candia
Lauren-- Actually, you need to use canned coconut milk for this recipe because it has a high fat content, which will make the ice cream creamy. Using almond milk or soy milk (which have low fat contents) will give you an ice cream with a very icy texture, almost like frozen milk. While almond milk substitutions work in most places, this isn't one of them.
04.4.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Hi, just wondering, to make a vanilla ice cream, would I work if I were to remove the cocoa and add another teaspoon of vanilla? A close friend is lactose intolerant, and I'm making many delights she can enjoy at an upcoming party.
10.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJem
I made this and it turned out tasty but then went rock hard in my freezer (like I have to chip away at it with a knife!). Did the coconut milk I used make a difference? I used Ayam premium coconut milk which is 24% fat. In your pictures it doesn't look rock hard. Maybe using more sugar would have helped...
11.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
Susan-- Just allow the ice cream to begin to thaw on the counter (about 10-15 min) and it will turn deliciously creamy instead of rock hard. Coconut milk tends to freeze harder than dairy milk.
11.25.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Hi Susan,
My son can't have dairy gluten and sugar (as he has parasites in his gut) his doc said he can have some raw honey or coconut nectar occasionally. Do you think I could substitute the sugar for either honey or nectar? Thank you!
03.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBridgette
Bridgette-- Yes, I think substituting the sugar with honey would be just fine. You may need less honey than the sugar because honey is sweeter. Just taste as you go.
03.23.2014 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau

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