Any creamy frozen dessert that is made without dairy or eggs can be classified as vegan ice cream. It’s actually easy rather easy to skip both since they are not as big of a factor in the quality of the final product as are the sugar and fat content. All but the traditional french custard ice creams can be made vegan with simple swaps.
Sugar and Fat
If you are to chuck in some almond milk into the freezer, you will end up with frozen almond milk. But if you introduce some fat into the mixture, the story changes. It will still take some air bubbles for that scoopable consistency, but at least it will not be a solid block of ice.
Good ice cream can do without sugar (especially if the sugar is substituted with sugar alcohol like erythritol that behaves the same in the emulsion). However, fat is essential, and the best ice creams will always have decent fat content.
Still, sugar is also very important since it controls the amount of ice created during the churning and freezing process. While the stuff that’s sitting in your cupboard will do just fine, the results are even better when that sugar is in a liquid state.
And this is why some of the smoothest scoops have sweetened condensed milk in them. It substitutes granulated sugar ounce per ounce, but since it’s liquid, it prevents the formation of uneven bubbles and splitting.
Vegan Ice Cream Ingredients, vegan ice cream recipe.
Store-bought vegan ice creams can be made of almost anything but at home, the go-to ingredient is coconut milk. It has good fat content and consistency that works well with a lot of recipes. But if you’re not in the mood for the strong aroma as well, cashews are the best way to go.
Egg custards are impossible to convert without reverse-engineering the egg. In those recipes, they mainly serve as stabilizers while also providing some extra fat. It is a lot easier to stick to ice creams that are stabilized with different gelling agents or starches.
And let’s have a word about the condensed milk. As in, how you will not find a vegan version for sale. But make some at home with equal amounts by volume of sugar and plant milk of your choice (high-fat ones work the best). Simmer over medium-low heat until it reduces by half, and you’re done.
Is Gelato Vegan? Gelato recipe
If it’s traditional, no, but it can be. The base for every gelato recipe is milk and milk powder, with egg yolk appearance depending on the region the recipe originates from. For example, Sicilian style gelato only uses milk and starch, with no egg or even milk powder in sight.
Is Soft Serve Vegan?
Soft serve is more about consistency than ingredients, so yes, it can be vegan. Any ice cream that comes in a tub goes through two phases – churning and freezing. If you skip the second, you get soft serve.
Are Popsicles Vegan?
Yes, since most of them are just blended fruit or fruit juice. Creamsicles, on the other hand, usually have some form of dairy.
Is Frozen Yogurt Vegan? frozen yogurt recipe
Probably no. And if you got your hands on a dairy-free version, it’s probably not very good. FroYos, in general, tend to have too little fat to be silky and creamy enough. On top of that, vegan ones are often made with soy milk yogurt which makes them even leaner.
What You Can Find in Stores
Quite a few indie brands and ice cream parlors have popped up in recent years, so you should check out if there’s something exciting happening locally. But if you don’t live in an area with a large vegan community, chances are you will have to rely on your supermarket’s freezer section.
What You Can Make at Home
As long as you don’t want to reproduce a recipe with egg yolks, you can make a vegan version of any style of ice cream. But if you want to give a french custard a try, tofu or the flax egg will not cut it – you will have to reach out for some of the ingredients whose name you probably can’t pronounce properly.
When it comes to equipment, for best results, you will want to invest in an ice cream machine. Yes, yes, your super-expensive blender can make ice cream, but it can’t make perfect ice cream. For smooth and silky results you will need a churner. Constant stirring during freezing prevents the formation of large ice crystals and whips up just enough air for a scoopable product.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a separate new kitchen gadget but you already own a stand mixer, get some dry ice, pulverize it, and slowly add it into the mixer bowl while the mixer is working. Voila, DIY ice cream maker.
But if you want to take an insurance policy, grab some agar. A teaspoon of it in half a cup of liquid will help stabilize any recipe and prevent the majority of mishaps.