we all scream for ice-cream

I’m not going to lie. Life has been a tad stressful lately. Changes of location, changes of relationship, changes of home, changes of schedule, routine, weather, underwear. You name it, over the past 2 months I’ve probably changed it. (Well, okay, hopefully we’ve ALL changed our underwear, but the other parts…maybe not so much).

Between school (tackling a slew of pre-med classes in preparation for graduate school) and work, most days I have a grand total of 60 minutes of downtime between 6am and 9:30pm, and I spend those driving. Today, I had a rare and miraculous afternoon free, and decided to postpone other pressing concerns for a couple of hours of baking therapy.

I (like everyone I know who’s tried it) have been a tad obsessed with Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Ice-Cream since tasting the sweet creamy nectar a year or so ago. It is SUCH an enormous improvement upon all other non-dairy ice-creams in taste, texture and integrity of ingredients, that I’d say it’s nothing short of a revolution. I’m not kidding you when I say that everyone (from your steak mawing carnivores to your wheatgrass sipping vegans) *loves* this stuff. I’m also a fan of Tofutti Cuties, though (unlike Coconut Bliss) Cuties have some ingredients that I’m not 100% sold on.

Since I can’t get Coconut Bliss anywhere within 3 hours of my current home, I decided to try to make my own version – I mean, how hard can it be? The ingredients are basically coconut milk and agave nectar, both of which are pretty easy to come by. My favorite part of the Cuties is the soft chocolaty wafer cookies between which the ice-cream is sandwiched, so naturally, I decided to make some of those to envelope my homemade ice-cream.

Please understand that I bake mostly by sight, and as a result these amounts are approximate….

Vegan Mint-Chip Ice-Dream
1 can coconut milk (not light)
1/4 to 1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 tsp (start with less and add to taste) peppermint extract
1/2 dark chocolate bar (I used 70% cacao) chopped

Whisk coconut together with agave nectar, vanilla and salt until smooth and well combined. Add peppermint extract (I would add this in 1/4 tsp. increments) until you reach your desired level of mintyness. Place the whole shebang in the fridge until it’s well chilled. (I was impatient and threw mine in the freezer – just don’t forget it!) When cold, pour into ice-cream maker and follow instructions (for mine, you basically just pour it in and wait 20 minutes). Right near the end, add your chopped chocolate and allow to mix thoroughly. If you’re making sandwiches, spread your ice-cream out about 3/4 inch thick onto a baking sheet that’s been covered with saran wrap and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours to get firm up. If you’re just going to eat it – enjoy immediately or freeze for several hours for harder ice-cream.

wafer cookies

Perfect Chocolate Wafers
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you could try bob’s red mill gluten free flour if you’re avoiding wheat, or use spelt pastry flour or whole wheat pastry flour…I just didn’t have any)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Green and Black)
3/4 cup agave nectar (give or take, depending on how sweet you want your cookies to be) or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons Unrefined Coconut Oil (you could use unsalted butter here instead)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of food processor and pulse several times to mix thoroughly. Add coconut oil (should be solid – refrigerate first if need be) or butter, cut into small chunks, and vanilla. Pulse several times. Allow the processor to run until the mixture clumps around the blade or the sides of the bowl. If your mixture isn’t wet enough, add a couple of tablespoons of milk/soy milk/yogurt. Make sure dough is evenly blended.

Now you have two options. Option 1 – roll your dough into a tube of the diameter that you’d like your cookies to be when baked, wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate until quite firm (an hour or so). Slice cookies off to desired thickness, rolling tube if it starts to get flat on one side as you cut. Option 2 – roll dough out between two sheets of plastic wrap (on a cookie sheet) and refrigerate until firm. Cut cookies with round or fluted cookie cutter, peeling away the “in-between” dough. Use a spatula to slip cookies onto another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If they are too soft to move, refrigerate them again, and transfer them while cold.

Bake cookies on top rack of the oven for between 8-10 minutes depending on their thickness. I wanted my cookies to remain a bit soft, so I went for 8 minutes. If you want them to crisp up when cooled, you might try 10 – if you start to smell them, they’re probably ready to come out. Cool cookies, set aside for later. (*If you make slightly crisper versions, these are also terrific for making chocolate pie-crusts (like for cheesecake) or summer ice-box cake – anything that calls for a chocolate wafer cookie base.)

Putting it All Together
Okay – time to make some muthafudgin’ sammiches! So. You have your cookies, right? And your ice-cream is frozen into a nice 3/4″ to 1″ high sheet. Now, take your round cookie cutter and a spatula and cut little rounds of ice-cream to place atop your cookies. If your ice-cream is still a bit soft, you can push the cookie cutter down and then (while the cutter is still around the ice-cream) slip your spatula underneath and slide the whole thing onto your cookie, pressing the ice-cream down with your finger to dislodge it from the cutter. Top with cookie number 2, and voila! These will be best if you make them the night before and freeze them really well before enjoying.

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Listening to: Rah Rah: Going Steady
Munching on: Ice-cream, duh!

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