Summer is coming to a close soon and I am not ready for it to go. This year I’ve been taking the time to enjoy some of the best things the season brings; all the sweet peaches and plums, pool time, and the great outdoors. Morning swims remind me of my swim team days in high school and how hard it is to get rid of a one-piece tan. I haven’t been this tan in years.
I’ve also been enjoying ice cream – which to be honest I enjoy every time of the year – and in these last weeks of summer, I’ve been completely craving ice cream sandwiches. Last month after an impromptu decision to see Baby Driver, I found myself wanting to end the night with ice cream. This led us to Van Leeuwen (a place I’ve been eyeing for some time) and boy I couldn’t believe we hadn’t thought to go sooner.
Over the last year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat less meat. It’s not very difficult for me, but when it comes to dairy… Cheese is one of my favorite things in the world. And ice cream? Well, I’d eat it knowing full well I’d probably have to deal with an upset tummy in 20 minutes. In college, after almond milk started selling like hot cakes, I’d familiarized myself with many flavors and brands of soy and coconut based ice creams. I wasn’t really ever a fan. None of them could quite capture that same richness and texture of dairy ice cream. So I was by no means expecting to have left the shop with a vegan scoop. But let me tell you. It’s that good.
For those of you who want to know some details or perhaps where you can get your own hands on this ice cream, Van Leeuwen has stores located in the Los Angeles and New York. I’ve also heard of their pints being sold in Whole Foods but am not sure if that’s limited to the cities they have stores in. Alternatively, you’ve got the option of ordering from their website too! But for a pretty penny. I must warn that their ice cream is not cheap, which is one of the reasons I wanted to make my own at home.
So to complete our vegan ice cream sandwiches, we need cookies. I have made many many many chocolate chip cookies and always found vegan alternative recipes to be missing a lot of the flavor and texture I was familiar with. I trusted the ATK recipe to get it right and was not disappointed. These are amazing cookies – and again – not just because they’re vegan. They’re great period.
I really hope you’ll try this recipe, or even the ice cream or cookies on their own. Both are wonderful alternatives free of any dairy or eggs and yet don’t skimp on taste or satisfaction in the least.
*Some notes: Van Leeuwen highly recommends using a kitchen scale to measure out your ingredients as getting an accurate ratio of fats and liquids is very important to making this ice cream successfully. You must use processed almond butter rather than the natural kind as natural is too oily and won’t work with the cookies. I used Barney’s Smooth Almond Butter. It has a wonderful texture and flavor.
for the matcha ice cream
1 cup (212g) coconut milk
1 cup (212g) cashew milk
1/2 cup (100g) granulated organic cane sugar
3 tbsp matcha powder
6 tsp (30g) cacao butter
1/4 cup (30g) extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt
• To make the cashew milk, soak 200g raw cashews in water overnight. Drain excess water and transfer cashews to a high-speed blender. Add 375g of water to the blender. Starting at a low speed and increasing the blender to high, blend cashews until extremely smooth. If your blender is having trouble blending everything, you can run the cashew milk through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of any bits that did not blend.
• In a small bowl, whisk the matcha powder with 2 tbsp of water until the matcha is fully dissolved. In a large bowl, add the coconut and cashew milks, sugar, matcha mixture, and whisk well. Set aside.
• In a small saucepan, melt the cacao butter and coconut oil together over a low heat. Add the salt and remove from the heat. Pour the cacao mixture into the matcha one and use an immersion blender to emulsify the ingredients together. Alternatively, you could do this in a high speed blender as well.
• Transfer the ice cream base to the fridge for 1-2 hours to chill. When ready, pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s directions. Once churned, the ice cream should be a soft serve consistency. Transfer to a freezer safe container and let the ice cream harden.
for the chocolate chip cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
3 tbsp water, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted creamy almond butter (processed not natural*)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
optional: flaky sea salt for sprinkling
• In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate larger bowl, whisk the brown sugar, coconut oil, water, almond butter, and vanilla extract together until completely smooth.
• Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and fold together with a spatula. Once just combined, add in the chocolate chips and fold a few more times until there are no streaks of flour left. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for 1-4 hours.
• When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Use a 1 oz cookie scoop to portion the dough out. Place dough balls at least 3 inches apart. Sprinkle each ball with flaky sea salt if desired. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Let rest on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. The cookies should be crisp on the edges but still soft on the inside.
• Pre-scoop each ball of ice cream out. Place on a baking tray and return to the freezer to firm up more.
• After 10-15 minutes, sandwich each ice cream ball between two chocolate chip cookies. Serve immediately or store in the freezer until ready to eat. Tip: I wrapped a few extra sandwiches up tightly in plastic wrap and left them in the freezer. They made a great after-dinner dessert this week!