The other day, Alex and I listened to a TED talk about “the secret to success”. The podcast claimed to share the key ingredient to being successful here on this crazy rotating blue-and-green sphere we call home. Over time, I’ve grown skeptical of empty promises, those messages screaming here’s secret to losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks! 20,000 Instagram followers in 2 days! Though I know it’s not that easy, sometimes I click those links, just to see if there’s something easy I’m missing. (Nope.)
So, the secret to being successful in this life, according to that TED talk? Grit. Otherwise known as: Perseverance. Tenacity. The ability to hold on when going gets tough, to cling to a vision of what life could look like in spite of the current setbacks. Honestly, I was a little disappointed, wishing the answer were something easier, a quick fix. But it’s stuck in my mind ever since. Grit. The ability to persevere in spite of unexpected obstacles.
A few weeks ago, a friend came to me with a challenge: a copycat Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream recipe. It’s her favorite Baskin Robbins ice cream flavor, and she wanted me to try to create a healthier, homemade option. It was an offhand remark, but I was curious so I took it on as an experiment. That innocent experiment turned to a weekend of four different coffee ice cream attempts, coffee grounds covering our kitchen, coffee-flavored goo behind my ear at one point, and multiple trips to the grocery for coconut milk. My first try had potential, the second a complete fail, the third so-so, and finally the fourth: a sweet, sweet success. I ate way too much, enough to break my “occasional splurge” intention with sweets. (So beware, this is dangerous stuff.) But we have a recipe. And it is my favorite ice cream we’ve made to date.
Much as I hate to admit it, grit just might be that secret key. As we bump along the way, in the kitchen or life, grit helps us persevere–whether it’s navigating an illness, a time of uncertainty, or darn it, coffee ice cream.
Why To Make it:
- It’s dairy-free (vegan), but you’d never know. Since there are oodles of standard ice cream recipes out there, we’ve taken to perfecting creamy, dairy-free ice cream (though we don’t eat strictly plant-based ourselves). In my opinion, you’d never know the difference between this and the real thing.
- It’s healthy-ish by being homemade, using plant-based ingredients & more natural sweeteners. No preservatives here. The recipe uses no dairy if you’re cutting back in that department, and uses combination of agave sugar and coconut sugar. It’s still sugar so we can’t call it healthy, but it’s a tiny bit better than using refined white sugar.
- It’s a chunky ice cream-lover’s dream. I’m a fan of chunks in ice cream, and this has them in every bite. The chocolate is mixed with tahini so it’s a slightly healthier version of a fudge ribbon, and it crisps up in to some seriously heavenly chunks, along with the toasted almonds.
When To Make It: Anytime
Caveats: You’ll need an ice cream maker and a bit of forethought: the recipe takes over 1 hour to make, then 4 hours to freeze prior to enjoying.
Another option: try it drowned in espresso as a Toasted Almond Mocha Affogato.
Here’s our ice cream maker — we’ve found a quality ice cream maker is key; we had a lower-end one and it broke after a year! It’s a fun item to have around for the occasional “food project” like ice cream — and a good holiday gift idea for someone who loves to make it.
Did you make this recipe?
If you make mocha almond fudge vegan ice cream, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture and mention @acouplecooks on Facebook or Instagram.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, dairy-freePrint
Due to the amount of time needed for the recipe, we recommend starting the day prior to serving if possible. If using decaf coffee, use a dark roast for the most flavor. If you use medium roast, you may need more coffee than specified below in order to obtain a strong coffee flavor.
- 2 15-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk
- 5 tablespoons dark roast coffee, coarsely ground (decaf if desired; we used illy Whole Bean Dark Roast)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup agave syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup almonds
- 2 ¼ ounces semi-sweet chocolate (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chocolate chips), vegan if desired
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- Freeze the ice cream maker base overnight.
- Coarsely grind 5 tablespoons coffee.
- Add the coconut milk to a medium saucepan. Remove ¼ cup of the liquid to a small bowl; mix with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and set aside.
- Bring the coconut milk, ⅓ cup agave syrup, ⅓ cup coconut sugar, and coffee to a simmer. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk frequently until thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1½ teaspoons vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-gallon Ziplock bag. If churning immediately, place the bag in an ice bath for 30 minutes until cool; if churning the next day, refrigerate 4 hours or overnight (either way, the mixture should be as cold as possible before churning).
- While the mixture cools, place ½ cup almonds in a dry skillet and toast over medium low heat, shaking often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then chop and reserve.
- Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker until it thickens to the consistency of soft serve.
- When the mixture appears nearly the consistency of soft serve, add the chopped nuts. Place ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon tahini, and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder in a glass measuring cup, then microwave at 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Drizzle the chocolate into the ice cream, using a spoon to pour since the chocolate mixture is thick. If desired, break up larger chunks with a spoon while the mixture churns. When the chocolate is just incorporated, turn off the ice cream maker (the chocolate step should only take a few minutes).
- Eat immediately for a soft serve consistency, or for a hard ice cream texture, freeze using the following instructions: press a piece of parchment or wax paper into a sealable container, then scrape the ice cream into the container using a spatula, making sure to scrape in the bits frozen to the edges of the ice cream maker base. Freeze for 4 hours for a hard ice cream texture.
Notes on Coffee Ice Cream Methods (for nerding out)
- Main methods for coffee ice cream include: simmering with whole beans, simmering with coffee grounds, and adding instant espresso powder.
- For us, simmering the beans had great flavor, but we ended up with about half the ice cream mixture we started with as the beans absorbed much of the liquid.
- Adding instant espresso powder was an easy method, but the flavor was not nearly as good as the real beans; plus, it’s not typically on hand at our house.
- What worked? Simmering the ice cream mixture with coarsely ground beans from my favorite coffee, then strained through a fine mesh sieve. The amount of liquid was maintained and the flavor was rich and nutty.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.