Blackberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

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Creamy, dreamy vegan ice cream made with fresh, local blackberries and coconut milk. Using berries that are super-ripe eliminates the need for large amounts of sugar. 

While I was at Emory for my dietetics internship, I was lucky to have the opportunity to hear Alice Waters speak. I know that's a name my fellow foodies are very familiar with, but if you haven't heard of her, Alice Waters is a famous chef, cookbook author and activist. In the seventies, she opened Chez Panisse, a revolutionary restaurant that spearheaded the farm-to-table movement. She's written some of the most beautiful cookbooks, including two of my favorites, Chez Panisse Vegetables and The Art of Simple Food. More recently, she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, a non-profit that aims to integrate edible gardens into the curriculum, teaching children not only about gardening and nutrition, but working it into core curriculum. To say she's a pretty amazing woman would be an understatement.

I didn't understand enough about food politics at the time to fully appreciate her lecture, but there was one story she told that engrained itself in my memory. She shared a story about when she attended a fundraising event that Bill Clinton, the president at the time, would be at. Knowing she would be in the presence of the most powerful man in America, someone who could take her ideas about food and turn it into real policy, she had to do something powerful and memorable. But of course, she wouldn't have much time and she couldn't think of anything to say in less than a minute with enough power to make an impact.

What did she do? As Bill Clinton left the fundraiser, she quietly slipped him a perfect peach. Just one perfect peach.

Can you imagine that? Having so much faith and confidence in one piece of fruit to think it might sway the presidents thinking by bringing him "a new understanding of the politics of food." One peach to literally change the world. As someone who grew up in the Peach State, I kind of get it.

When I received a gorgeous box of blackberries in our City Roots CSA, I thought of this story. As I examined the plump, juicy, deeply colored berries I thought surely there was nothing I could do to improve upon these perfect specimens.

That is until I spotted recipes for coconut milk ice cream that I just couldn't get out of my mind. So, I hacked the gorgeous berries to pieces, drenched them with rich coconut milk and honey and turned them into ice cream. Sorry Alice....

Yes, creamy, thick vegan ice cream is a reality thanks to coconut milk, which has the same consistency as cream. The little bits of blackberries and chewy shredded coconut add a lovely texture. Lightly sweetened with honey, this is refreshing summer dessert, especially if paired with sliced fresh berries and a little basil to garnish.  And seriously, how gorgeous is that purple color? Oh, and fellow Clemson fans, do you catch the purple and orange into my pictures?

If you're one of those people who struggles with portion control with ice cream (so, everyone), check out this adorable ice cream maker. It makes a half pint at a time, perfect for two people. Keep ice cream mix chilled in your refrigerator to make an individual serving of soft service ice cream in less than thirty minutes. If you don't feel like mixing up a batch of ice cream mix, simply sweeten an individual container of Greek yogurt with a little honey and your choice of mix-ins for homemade frozen yogurt with less than five minutes of effort!

So, that all said, am I audacious enough to claim I've improved upon the perfect blackberry? Yes, yes I am.

Blackberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Makes about 5 cups
Feel free to substitute other berries. I think ones with a little bit of tartness would go best to counter the richness of the coconut milk. Raspberries would make a pretty pink color. Although honey technically isn't vegan, most vegans I know still eat it. If you don't, use an equal amount of unrefined sugar. I bet you could also use dates or date paste. If you try it, please let me know how it worked and how much you used in the comments. I used one can of light coconut milk and one can of coconut cream, since Trader Joes doesn't sell regular full fat coconut milk...or is that what coconut cream is?? Help!
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 2 cans coconut milk, light or regular
  • 2 teaspoons vodka (this keeps it creamy after freezing)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted and cooled
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process the blackberries until they form a chunky puree. In a large bowl, mix the blackberries with the remaining ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator and chill about 2-3 hours.
  2. Once chilled, pour mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker (make sure it's been frozen overnight first) and churn until frozen, thick and creamy, about 20-30 minutes. Scoop mixture into a freezer safe container. Freeze about 3 hours until frozen through. Before serving, let it sit out a few minutes to soften.