The usual route to homemade vegan ice cream is dairy-free milk – almond, coconut, cashew, hemp. But there is another option that gives an even richer and smoother result: oatmeal cream.
Due to their inherent starchy nature, oats can help thicken and stabilize frozen desserts by preventing ice crystals from forming. Many vegan ice cream recipes call for the addition of a starch, such as arrowroot powder or cornstarch, but oatmeal, a relative newcomer to the milk alternative market, eliminates that need.
Another benefit is the mild, subtle taste of oatmeal cream. Unlike, say, assertive coconut milk, it allows the flavor of more important ingredients to shine through.
In this easy, no-whipping peanut and maple ice cream, oatmeal cream and nut butter are whipped in a blender with maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and a dash of vanilla. The mixture is then transferred to a metal bread pan and tossed into the freezer, and a few hours later it is taken out – a creamy frozen dessert that looks like the inside of a peanut butter cup melting on the tongue.
The only actual preparation is to boil the maple syrup for a few minutes so that it condenses. This both enhances the maple flavor and evaporates excess water, which can lead to iciness.
You can use natural or commercial peanut butter, but the emulsifiers in commercial peanut butter will give your ice cream an exceptionally satiny texture. However, if you love natural peanut butter on your sandwich, you might not mind its more pronounced crunch in the cone.
Other nut butters (almond, cashew, hazelnut) are also good if you want to experiment. Just make sure you choose the ones that don’t contain sugar or you risk a more sugary taste.
As with any ice cream – vegan or dairy – it will always be much easier to make if you take the container out of the freezer at least 10-30 minutes before serving. This allows the ice cream to soften a little, but not turn into a pudding.
If you want to really play with the peanut butter cup reference, you can serve it with chocolate chips: sprinkles, chips, shavings, fondant sauce, cookie crumbs. But I love to savor undecorated balloons. This way I can fully appreciate the silky texture that is hard to come by in homemade vegan ice cream. So far, i.e.
Easy vegan ice cream with peanut butter and maple butter
Yield: about 3 1/2 cups.
Total time: 20 minutes plus 4 hours of freezing.
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups unsweetened oatmeal
1 cup smooth creamy peanut butter (preferably not natural peanut butter, which can be gritty; see tip)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Chocolate chips or sprinkles for serving (optional)
1. In a small saucepan, boil the maple syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by a third, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let syrup cool completely, stirring occasionally as it cools. You should have about 1/2 cup.
2. Place syrup, cream, peanut butter, vanilla and salt in a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Pour the ice cream into a loaf pan.
3. Cover and place in the freezer to set overnight or at least 4-6 hours. Remove the mold from the freezer at least 10 minutes before scooping and serving, topped with chocolate chips or sprinkled if desired.
Tip: You can replace peanut butter with other nut butters (almond, cashew, hazelnut). Just make sure you choose the ones that don’t contain sugar or they might be too sweet.