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Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean-Honey Ice Cream: Scream For It

Whether it be homemade or store-bought, good ol’ vanilla or Baskin Robbins trademarked Jamoca Almond Fudge, single dip or double, reduced-fat or fully loaded, soft-serve or a rock-hard scoop, everyone from nine to 90 likes it. We’re talking ice cream, of course, that delicious frozen treat that we gladly scream for.
But for the lactose intolerant, the ice cream truck’s enchanting ditty rivals the sirens’ song of the sea. The cold, sweet creaminess is soon forgotten once the bloating and nausea set in, so instead we watch others enjoy this much-adored summertime favorite while we sit by, salivating like one of Pavlovs’ dogs.
So, with the summer temps starting to rev up, I searched for a homemade dairy-free ice cream recipe that could fool Ben and Jerry. No problem: I would simply substitute soy, almond or coconut milk for the cow’s milk in a regular recipe. Uh oh, problem! Come to find out, it’s the butterfat in the milk — cream or half and half — that put the “cream” in ice cream. Without it you end up with ice milk — sweet, milk-flavored ice crystals. I mean it’s okay, but I wasn’t doing my happy dance.
The search continued. I needed to add something with some FAT in it to give this stuff some body. The more time-intensive, old-fashioned recipes called for eggs and an ice cream freezer, but this project warranted the extra effort. I was rewarded with a fluffy, vanilla-speckled quart of pure heaven that got me hollering.
My lucky friends who are not affected by this milk-based malady said it lacked the true creaminess of ice cream made with dairy, but all the bowls I returned to the kitchen had been licked clean and, for me, it beats the heck out of a bellyache!

Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean-Honey Ice Cream Recipe

You are going to need four cups vanilla-flavored soymilk (the highest fat you can find), ½ cup honey, 2 whole vanilla beans, 4 egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Split the beans lengthwise; scrape out the seeds but save the pods.
Combine the soymilk, honey, vanilla seeds and the pods in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the ingredients just about to a boil, stirring occasionally.
While the soymilk mixture is heating, whisk 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the yolks while whisking and then pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. (This is called tempering the yolks. If you just pour them straight in you will have chunks of cooked egg.) Cook over medium heat until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. About 5 minutes.
Strain into your ice cream bucket to remove the vanilla bean pods. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (This can take a while, so make it early, the day before or cheat and stick it in your freezer.) At this point, follow the directions on your ice cream freezer and be sure to let it ripen a couple of hours. You’ve waited this long; a bit longer won’t kill ya.

Your ice cream should look the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Your ice cream should look like the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Does dairy bother you? If so, do you always search for alternatives? Have another dairy-free ice cream recipe I should try? —Karen

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