I have strong, fond memories of peach ice cream, mostly stemming from homemade batches throughout my childhood.. most notably the one time my sister kept inching closer and closer to my uncle and the old-fashioned “crank” style machine. She leaned just a little too close, he wasn’t paying attention, and WHAM! She tidied up the whole debacle with “Ow.. he cranked me!”
Luckily, it’s all on video.
So this season when I spied the fresh, local peaches at the market, I knew I had to recreate one of my favorite, seriously Southern sweets, but without the dairy, without the processed sugar, without the preservatives.. without all the “gross”, essentially. I thought it would go smoothly, but alas..
I have this problem with homemade ice cream. You see, no matter how long I freeze the bowl, the ice cream never freezes up, never resembles anything like “soft serve” while churning, none of it. I’ve lamented this problem, wondering why I can throw together a batch of eclairs in 90 minutes, yet can’t work up the simplest ice cream recipe! Well, turns out.. I get to blame my freezer! Thank God; I don’t handle liability well.
It appears that our freezer doesn’t actually freeze the bowl, so three months later I could pick out the bowl and shake, only to hear the ever-dreaded slosh-slosh-slosh of the liquid in its walls. Ugh. So what’s a girl to do, when she’s desperate to get a recipe out before heading to the beach, knowing how damn good the recipe is and wanting you to be able to make it with your fresh peaches? Well, there were hopes, there were prayers to the Ice Cream Gods, and then I figured out that as long as I churned the mixture long enough, thereby incorporating enough air into the recipe to give it that ice creamy texture, and then froze afterwards, I’d be good to go. And I was! Oh, oh was I.
I used coconut milk and soaked cashews as the base, providing an aromatic richness that works perfectly with the ripe, sweet peaches. There’s a touch of bourbon thrown in to keep the ice cream from freezing solid, but the bourbon in its own right provides this added depth of flavor that enhances the peaches, making them their peachiest ever. If I didn’t tell you, I doubt you would know this peach ice cream is vegan, and isn’t that the best compliment to a dairy-free or gluten-free recipe? Or maybe it’s that this recipe is actually almost healthy, made from only 7 ingredients: peaches, cashews, maple syrup, bourbon, coconut milk, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Just reading the ingredient list is like a culinary sonnet: you know it’s gonna be good.
Worth all the metaphorical cranking and freezer rage? 145%.
Vegan Peach Ice Cream
In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups peaches, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon bourbon and let sit (macerate!) about 15 minutes.
Remove 1/2 cup macerated peaches and set aside. Blend all remaining ingredients on medium speed until very, very smooth, a few minutes. Add in remaining 1/2 cup of peaches and pulse a couple times, leaving some chunks for texture. Chill until very cold, then churn and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.