Vegan Caramel Coconut Ice Cream

Vegan, Gluten Free
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I don’t know if anybody noticed this, but I’m extremely obsessed with ice cream. In the last 28 days, I have eaten ice cream at least once a day. Sometimes twice, and one time three and a half times. (I’m not proud.) When I was little my Mum once called me an Ice Cream Monster and said if I didn’t watch out I’d become obese. That was because I tried to eat an entire ice cream cake in two days, but still…so harsh!

Most of the time, I’ll admit it, I do buy ice cream by the giant tub. Sometimes gourmet tubs of Maggie Beer, most often whatever brand of mango sorbet is available and Blue Ribbon vanilla. I also buy gelato ridiculously often as well, sometimes by myself which I’m sure is some kind of social taboo.

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I do love making ice cream though! As you can see from the countless recipes on this blog. Highlights include banana bread flavoured frozen yogurt, Mango Frozen Yogurt, and the most epic of all vegan birthday ice cream cakes. All delicious and frozen by me, therefore slightly less guilt-inducing. What can I say, some people spend $4.00 on a coffee every day, I spend that on ice cream. And while we’re being 100% honest, I also spend that on coffee. Plus an extra 50c for soy milk 🙂

Recently I’ve been committing to an almost completely vegan diet, save the occasional egg when eating out. Because of this I have been having some MAJOR creamy ice cream withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms include irritation, yelling at passers-by and eating tub upon tub of mango sorbet. It was definitely time to make a coconut ice cream.

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I have major beef with ice cream recipes that don’t make ice cream, but instead make ice cream flavoured blocks. The whole point of an ice cream recipe is that it makes ice cream…which must be scoop-able immediately, not half an hour later after sitting it on the bench. When I want ice cream I don’t want it in half an hour, it’s usually a give-it-to-me now kind of deal. Otherwise call it a popsicle! Ok?!?!?!

But I do get it, it can be really hard to make a somewhat healthier ice cream recipe that doesn’t freeze too much. I usually add alcohol to sorbets (sorry children) to keep them soft. I didn’t want to add alcohol to coconut ice cream though, and my sister accidentally bought “coconut drink” instead of milk, which had way less fat and was in general way less awesome. But waste not want not right?! So I decided to experiment with the controversial ingredient of glucose syrup.

Controversial because it’s 90% glucose, made from refined starch, basically just terrible for you. But it does completely stop ice cream from freezing solid! It’s crazy. This recipe had almost no fat in it at all, just 2 tbsp of syrup. And days later it still scoops fine! The drawbacks are that the syrup is super super sweet, and I didn’t adjust the sugar enough to compensate. For me, who doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth (hah I know) it was almost too sweet to eat. So I’ve given instructions in the recipe for both with and without, you decide. Use the syrup if you want to make low-fat ice cream with light coconut milk, or just use honey if using full-fat and tell me how you go with that scooping. Or just eat it straight after you make it! Never a bad idea 😉 Have a great week guys!

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Caramel Coconut Ice Cream: Inspired by My Darling Lemon Thyme

1 litre full-fat coconut milk (2.2 cans)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
EITHER:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
OR:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp glucose syrup

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Mix a few tbsp of the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Put all of the other ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently, whisking in the cornstarch mixture. Let the mixture come to the bowl, whisking constantly as it heats. (It’s important to reach this temperature or the floury flavour won’t cook off and it won’t thicken enough). Turn the heat off and pour through a sieve in to a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then cover the surface in plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Chill overnight, then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manual’s instructions. If using glucose syrup, you may get away with not churning it although I haven’t tested this!

Optional: stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips, berries, caramel drops, chopped dates etc

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Dulce de Leche and Strawberry Chocolate Meringue

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 Don’t say it! I know what you’re thinking. Double cream? Dulce de Leche? MERINGUE?!?!?! What is this unhealthy monstrosity! Well I’ll tell you what it is. It is my friend Sammy’s birthday cake. And if you had heard that hopeful little voice requesting something with chocolate and caramel involved, you would have cracked too! Sometimes I just have to accept that no matter how excited I get about vegan avocado mousse tarts and chocolate fudge orange cupcakes made out of chia and almonds, not everyone feels the same. In the words of one wise friend, not everyone wants that mangy vegan shit. True words. Amen sister.

So this cake was born! Did it fill the criteria? Caramel? Check. In the blessed form of Argentinian boiled condensed milk- Dulce de Leche. (Mmm who is remembering those evil caramel chocolate cookies?) Chocolate? Holy mama. And the chocolate was vegan! So please, I tried. I had so much fun shaving shards off my 2.5 kilogram block! Now that’s a lot of chocolate. I had lots of egg whites languishing in the freezer leftover from a recent vanilla ice cream episode, so meringue was the obvious way to go. The strawberries were a really yummy and colourful addition to what turned out as quite a light and creamy dessert. I made it in just over an hour, including the whole time the meringue was baking and I was dancing aggressively to Celtic rock music. (I have no shame). 

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I don’t actually recommend making it in such a short amount of time because as you can see from the equally delicious and equally horrendous photograph below, cream spreads when warm. It seriously knows no bounds. I was running late for the birthday lunch so I whipped the underdone meringue out of the oven, comforting myself that it would be perfectly chewy and marshmellow-centred because of my lack of baking time. I practically threw it on the floor and poured on a pile of cream and caramel. I like to think it was Jackson Pollock inspired. “Controlled chaos”. Once in the car, it started to ooze and meld together into a pool of creamy caramel and melted chocolate. For some reason, no one eating it complained at all!

Meringues and pavlovas were seriously one of my favourite desserts ever when I was growing up. Number one, they were always served with a practical mountain of fresh berries on top. I was OBSESSED with berries from a very young age. Number two, it looks like a marshmellow cloud, and is covered in cream. Number three, for some reason when people serve meringue, the slices are seriously enormous. And there’s nothing better than a plate of dessert that’s bigger than your plate of dinner was.

You can do lots of things with this super simple meringue base! I used the same ratio that Jamie Oliver uses. You can cover it in cream and whatever you really want. Fresh fruit, chocolate mousse and toffee shards, crush it up with ice cream, berries, yogurt and honey, anything! Go insane. And please forgive me for any mishaps in getting this post up or if I’m slow replying to comments, questions etc. I’m away! And sending lots of love from overseas.
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Caramel, Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue: Adapted from here

1 400ml can (13.5 fluid ounces) condensed milk

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
220g caster sugar

1 300ml (1 + 1/4 cup, 1/3 ounce) double cream
150g (5 ounces) chopped dark chocolate
400g (1 pound, 14 ounces) strawberries or mixed berries
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Put your can of condensed milk in a saucepan and fill half-way with water. Boil gently for 2-3 hours, constantly making sure the water is covering the bottom third of the can. Alternatively, pour it into a baking dish and bake for half an hour until golden and thick.

Preheat the oven to 150C (302F). Lay a sheet of baking paper on a tray. In a stand mixer with a very clean bowl, start whisking your egg whites. Speed up to fast and whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (not so stiff they are lumpy! You whisk more later). At this point, slow it down and start pouring in your sugar. Whisk on low to combine and then put it back on fast. Whisk for 5-8 minutes, until the meringue is glossy and thick, and when you rub some in between your fingers there are no sugar granules. Spoon the meringue on to the tray and flatten down with a spatula, leaving room on the edges for expansion. Bake for about an hour, until white but still spongy in the centre.

When the meringue is done, leave it to cool. Whip the cream with a teaspoon of vanilla, if you want. Just until slightly thicker and fluffed. Wash and cut your strawberries, and cut your chocolate in shards. Spoon the cream over the meringue, then smooth over a layer of caramel. Dulce de Leche is thick but try and smooth it by using a knife and spoon to create long strands. Just before serving throw on the berries and chocolate and dig in! Serves 8. Once the toppings are on, try and eat it within the hour.
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Chocolate Caramel Truffle Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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 It has been raining for a week now. I am so sick of rain. I know some people might be thinking what, a week? That’s nothing! But I’m sorry, having grown up during a ten year drought, when we used to use buckets to collect bath water to pour back on to the garden, I am not liking this weather at all. The photos look so sad and colourless when there’s hardly any natural light. It makes this chocolate cake look mournful! Like a going away cake. So different from the celebratory chocolate layer cake of a few weeks ago! Well my friends. That is exactly what it is. So maybe the weather suits the mood after all. 

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In a very short amount of time my friend Hannah will be jetting overseas for a ridiculously long period of time, eight months! That’s almost a year! This cake was for her surprise goodbye party and it is my third layer cake attempt. It didn’t come out looking exactly how I wanted, but hey. It has character! 

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 This is a very rich cake. The layers are a variation of a chocolate truffle cake. The recipe reads more like a brownie than anything else, and the batter smelt amazing whilst it was baking! Probably because there was an entire vanilla bean mixed with the sugar. In between these layers is a whipped dulce de leche caramel filling. Encasing the whole thing is a silky whipped chocolate ganache and sprinkles of course because we are celebrating here. 

 While it’s exciting to see her go knowing she’s going to have an amazing time exploring Europe and Asia, I’m really sad to say goodbye. I will probably be consoling myself later with a piece of this cake and a spoon (for smearing over leftover ganache, of course). 

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 Chocolate Caramel Truffle Cake (adapted from Kate Quinn Davies recipe in June Delicious 2013):

500ml (2 cups) whole milk

200g (1 + 1/4 cups or 7 ounces dark chocolate

250g ( 1/2 pound, 8.8 ounces, 1.1 cups) butter, in cubes

125ml (1/2 cup) cream 

2 eggs

1 vanilla bean

375g (1 + 3/4 cups) caster sugar

410g (3 cups) plain flour

1 tbs cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line four 20cm cake tins (or as many as you have). Melt the butter, cream and chocolate in a large bowl over simmering water. Heat the milk until warm and add to the chocolate mix, stirring to combine. Allow to cool slightly. Beat your eggs, sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean until thick and pale. Slowly pour in the chocolate mix until combined. Sift over the dry ingredients and stir well. To divide the cake batter evenly, set a large bowl over a set of scales and set the weight back on zero. Pour in the mix. Divide by four and spoon in to the tin a quarter of the mix, using the weight as an indicator. Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and dry when a toothpick is inserted. 

IMG_5029 For the filling:

Depending on how thick you want the layers, use 2 to 3 cans of condensed milk. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Pour into a shallow baking dish and smooth it evenly. Cover with foil. Place the dish in a larger baking dish and pour water into so that it comes half way up the sides of the can. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the caramel is thick and brown. Check throughout a few times and make sure the water doesn’t run out. Once cool, beat with electric mixers until fluffy. Put one layer of cake on a large flat plate. Spread one quarter of the caramel over the cake, leaving a little room around the edges because it will squeeze out. Use a pallet knife or large butter knife to spread the caramel evenly. Repeat with the remaining layers. 

IMG_5036 For the chocolate ganache:

150g (1 cup) dark chocolate, broken in to pieces

200g (1 + 1/3 cups) milk chocolate, broken into pieces

300ml (1 + 1/4 cups) thickened cream

Break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until scalding and pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute, then stir together until the chocolate melts. If some of it hasn’t melted set the bowl over a stove of simmering water and stir until smooth. Cool in the fridge for an hour, until thick. Pour into a mixer and beat until fluffy. Use an offset spatula to ice the cake, using a circular motion. Decorate with sprinkles or buttons if you wish. 

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Rich Chocolate and Caramel Brownies

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I find it really hard to resist buying cake and muffin pans that come in funny shapes. When I bought the heart shaped pan I used to make these brownies, I justified it by wrapping it in Christmas paper, putting it under the tree and addressing it to me. 

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I can now justify the purchase with these brownies. No other pan would do something so chocolatey and gooey and rich justice! 

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These brownies are made with very dark chocolate as well as a generous amount of cocoa powder. They are dotted with large chunks of dark chocolate that melts from the heat of the oven. In the centre, there is a dollop of salted caramel that runs out once you break one open with your fork. I was faced with a terrible dilemma recently when someone gave me two jars of salted caramel. One side of me was like “noooo using pre-bought sauces is sin!” and the other was like “nooooo wasting is a sin!” and seeing as the ingredients were just sea salt, cane sugar and butter, I thought it would be ok to make an exception this once. To recreate this recipe you could use dulce de leche, good quality store bought caramel or make your own. (Or leave it out). I can’t actually link to any external recipe because I followed one on a recipe card my friend gave me for a birthday. It’s the best book of recipe cards ever, each one dedicated to chocolate. Every single recipe turns out AMAZING! Although saying that, I haven’t tried the beef stew with chocolate sauce yet…Here is the brownie recipe:IMG_4782

Chocolate Caramel-Filled Brownies:

300g (10.5 ounces) dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids)

150g (5 ounces) dark chocolate cut into chunks

150g (1 + 1/3 sticks) butter, cubed

350g (1 + 3/4 cups) brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

60g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

80g (3/4 cup) flour

200g (1/2 can, 7 ounces) dulce de leche or caramel of spoonable consistency

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Method:

Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line either a 20cm by 20cm square cake pan, 12 muffin cases or 10 friand holes with baking paper. Over a pot of simmering water melt the 300g chocolate with the butter until smooth. Stir in the brown sugar and leave to cool slightly. Mix in gently the eggs, and then the chocolate chips. Sift over the cocoa powder and flour and fold until just combined. Pour half of your brownie mix into your prepared pan or muffin holes. Using two teaspoons or a melon scooper, carefully spoon a small dollop of caramel into the middle of each one. If using a pan just do dollops every 2cm or so. Cover with the remaining brownie and bake for 15 minutes to 25 minutes, checking so that when the top is just set and the middle slightly wobbly you take them out. Once cool dust with cocoa powder and icing sugar.
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Chocolate and Caramel Banana Muffins

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Come on say it with me. Muuuffinnnnns. Muffins. Muff-ins. I love the word muffin almost as much as I love muffins. It’s so funny! Like the word mitten. Try saying the word mitten without sounding one hundred. 

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This week was pretty stressful. The uni semester is almost over and suddenly I have four essays to write each worth 50%?? I mean geez! Talk about pressure. All week I was wondering what my next endeavour in the kitchen would be. I had very grand plans for a chocolate sorbet and shortbread ice cream sandwich (watch this space).

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But in the end, the thought of attempting anything more trying than a batch of warm banana muffins was too much. I folded through huge pieces of caramel chocolate and that was a pretty amazing idea, but you could try walnuts, blueberries, raspberries, dark chocolate or anything else you like. You could add cinnamon as well, if that’s the direction you want to go in. 

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These muffins are fluffy but also sticky and they last well over time because of all that banana. I IMPLORE YOU to microwave them for a minute or two before eating them (unless they just came out of the oven, even better!) The chocolate will melt throughout your muffin and just be that much better.

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Banana Chocolate Caramel Muffins: Adapted from Stephanie Alexander

2 large bananas mashed

2 large eggs, lightly whisked

125g (4 ounces, 1 stick, 1/2 heaped cup) melted butter

250g (1/2 pound, 9 ounces, 2 cups) self-raising flour

225g (1 cup) white sugar

Optional: 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 250g (1 8 ounce block) caramel chocolate cut into chunks.

Preheat oven to 170C (340F) and line 12 muffin tins with muffin papers. Sift your flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar and form a well in the centre. Pour in your wet ingredients and mix together until just combined. Break in your chocolate chunks and stir through. Spoon into muffin tins 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes until brown on top and springy to touch. 

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Chocolate Brownie Caramel Sandwich Cookies

IMG_4119What do you do when you feel like a brownie and a cookie at the same time? 

You make brownie cookies! If you haven’t ever heard of these before, oh boy. Pity pity. They make me weep. I remember the first time my friend made me some, bringing them over in a paper bag. Hers were mega cookies the size of my face and she assumed I wouldn’t finish one because I’d been very sick. I ate four. 

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These brownie cookies are made ten million times better by becoming sandwich cookies, filled with what you may ask? Dulce de Leche. The caramel of the gods. 

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If you haven’t heard of it before (first you haven’t heard of brownie cookies now this as well? What’s wrong with you…) dulce de leche is an Argentinian caramel made by boiling a can of condensed milk for 3 hours in a pan of water. Here’s the part where I’m supposed to say, oh how scary! The can explodes if the water isn’t topped up during the boiling! Here is a safe and fiddly recipe! But no. It’s so easy, you just pick up the can, put it in a pot filled with water just below the rim of the can, boil it for 3 hours. Don’t let the water run too low. 

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You will be rewarded with a thick and delicious caramel ready to be spread over whatever you fancy. 

Chocolate Brownie Sandwich Cookies: Cookie recipe from Bourke St Bakery Cookbook

1 x 400ml can (13.5 ounces) condensed milk, boiled for 2-3 hours (closed!) and left to cool

235g (8 ounces) dark chocolate, broken into chunks

100g (1 stick) unsalted butter

240g (1 + 1/4 cups) brown sugar

2 eggs

1.5 tsp bicarbonate soda

150g (1 cup) plain flour

40g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

IMG_4179Preheat your oven to 165C (329F). Put your chocolate chunks in a bowl and melt over a pot of barely simmering water. In a mixer, whisk your butter and brown sugar until combined. Slowly add your eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and slowly sift in your dry ingredients. Stir in the melted chocolate and leave to cool until the mixture is sticky. Use two tablespoons to gather equal balls of cookie dough and using your hands, roll into 2 inch balls. 

Bake for 7-10 minutes until just set on top. Once they are completely cool, spread a thick layer of caramel in-between two cookies and press together. Now eat them!

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Salty Butterscotch Choc-Chip Ice Cream

Gluten Free
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Sometimes certain dishes make people go slightly insane.

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Ice cream is one of those things. I have a memory from about seven years ago. At the cinema with my best friend, each of us bought two scoops of chocolate fudge in waffle cones. We were so wildly excited to eat the ice cream we couldn’t stop laughing even to eat them. My friend went into a mild panic  and in her joy crushed the entire cone in her hand, dropping the ice cream on the floor. It was so sad, but so funny.
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This ice cream is made of miracles. The salty butterscotch is so creamy, rich and buttery you almost can’t finish the bowl. The dark chocolate chips are crunchy little nuggets of bitter gold that break through the sweetness. At first I wanted to fold through crushed chocolate meringue, that would conveniently use up my egg whites, but at 11.30pm when I turned on the mixer my family protested loudly 😦

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Butterscotch Choc Chip Ice Cream: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop 

75g granulated sugar

170g brown sugar

60g salted butter + 1/2 tsp salt

100ml (1/2 cup) whole milk

600ml (2 + 2/3 cups) double cream

6 large egg yolks

100g (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate chunks (at least 65%)

Method:

In a large, heavy-based saucepan, spread granulated sugar in an even layer and cook over a medium heat until starting to melt. Once most has melted, use a heat-proof spatula to draw the sugar slowly to the centre two or three times. Allow to continue cooking until a deep amber colour. Once melted, take off the heat and quickly stir in the milk, butter, brown sugar, salt, and 150ml (5 ounces) of the double cream. In a separate bowl place the rest of the cream and set a sieve on top. Pour the egg yolks into a large bowl and gently whisk. Stir in the hot caramel in a slow stream until incorporated, then quickly pour back into the pot on the heat. Using your spatula, continue to stir until the custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the caramel custard into the double cream through the sieve and stir to combine. Allow to cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Pour your custard into your ice cream machine and follow instructions. Add chocolate chips at the last moment. This ice cream can be frozen without a machine and beaten every hour in a blender, it just won’t be as creamy. 

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Notes: Don’t panic if the caramel turns in to a hard lump once you pour in the cold ingredients. Keep stirring! And it should melt back into liquid.