Happy Monday everyone! Just five more days for the weekend again, so hang in there. 🙂
If you have visited this blog before, do you notice anything different? That’s right, I finally changed my URL over to the new theflavorbender.com AND changed my logo and header too! I kept a few elements from my old logo, because I loved my old Giramuk’s Kitchen logo, and if you look closely, you might notice the “K” cake beater hiding in the new one. 🙂 A BIG thank you to my sister for putting it together for me! I owe you a few cakes, that’s a promise!
So how do you celebrate a change like re-branding your blog? It’s either cake or ice cream for me, and by now you know which one I picked this time. And you should be VERY excited about this one, because this is an insanely delicious VEGAN ICE CREAM with a wicked Sri Lankan (tropical) twist! It’s a Vegan Cardamom Spiced Coconut Ice Cream – aka Watalappan Ice cream! I’m a day late for National Ice Cream day with this one, but believe me, it will NEVER be too late for something as amazing as this!
Does the name Watalappan sound familiar to you? I shared the recipe for the traditional Sri Lankan watalappan a few months ago (you can read all about it right here) and it’s one of the most popular posts on this blog. It’s a cardamom and nutmeg spiced coconut custard, a classic Sri Lankan dessert and a uniquely fantastic combination of flavours and texture!
I wanted to go where no one else has gone before and turn this amazing dessert into an ice cream. I had the option of using eggs to make the ice cream or make it completely vegan. I was intrigued by the thought of making a vegan ice cream and decided to hand myself the challenge. Then I made it even better by making a Cardamom and Cashew Praline that paired with the flavours in this ice cream perfectly! That praline is SO good, you’ll be eating it on its own. Mark my words.
So I researched on how to replicate the creamy thickness of the ice cream base without adding eggs. The two options I seriously considered were cornflour and Xanthan gum. Both are capable of absorbing liquid and therefore act as thickening agents (there are many other starch options with which you could do this as well).
Cornflour is a starch. It works really well for desserts like puddings. It’s also a great choice if you don’t need to freeze your mixture – so if you want to make the traditional watalappan custard WITHOUT eggs (and still get a creamy pudding-like consistency), cornflour is the way to go.
However at low, freezing temperatures, cornflour loses its structure and doesn’t maintain that thick consistency required for ice cream and also doesn’t become as “airy” as needed when you whip air into it.
Xanthan Gum is a polysaccharide often used in foods as a thickener and it’s produced naturally by bacterial fermentation and synthetically as well. It’s a stronger thickener than cornflour and acts like an emulsifier as well. It is also very stable at freezing temperatures, and therefore great for ice cream as it allows proper aeration which in turn allows the desired consistency of ice cream to be achieved.
I have to say though, I do not like using Xanthan gum for puddings/custards. It’s more of a personal preference really, but for ice cream it works well.
Only a small amount of Xanthan Gum is required to thicken your mixture. And I mean, a very small amount – generally about 0.5% of the total weight of your mixture! However because it clumps up very quickly, it does need to be mixed in vigorously! I used an immersion blender, and it worked perfectly.
And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make this vegan coconut ice cream as a no-churn ice cream by using a hand-held beater to churn this base, by mixing it every hour until the mixture hardens in the freezer. It will still give you a delicious and smooth ice cream, but of course an ice cream churner will yield smoother results.
A note on being Vegan Friendly – As a reader pointed out, I did not clarify the sources of the sugar I used. Due to the bone-char refining process, most white sugars and brown sugars are not vegan friendly. As per the watalappan in my original post (HERE), I use Billingtons for this recipe (IF I can’t get my hands on some classic Sri Lankan jaggery (which is vegan friendly), AND I use Imperial Granulated Pure Cane Sugar for the praline – which is vegan friendly as well.
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Vegan Cardamom Spiced Coconut Ice Cream
Vegan Cardamom Spiced Coconut Ice Cream
- 3 cups of thick coconut milk
- 7.4 oz dark brown sugar with high molasses content like Muscovado sugar
- 6-7 cardamom pods - please see note
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- scant ½ tsp Xanthan gum this can be found in most grocery or specialty stores - sometimes in the gluten free section
- pinch of salt
Cardamom Cashew Praline
- ½ tsp ground cardamom about 5 cardamom pod seeds ground, pre-ground is OK too
- 4 oz / 115 g white sugar
- 3 oz / 85 g roughly chopped cashew nuts roasted will taste better, but raw is OK too
- Separate ¼ cup of the dark brown sugar and set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, rest of the sugar, nutmeg, cardamom pods, salt and heat gently to completely dissolve the sugar and till the coconut milk has heated well.
- Add the Xanthan gum to the sugar that you set aside earlier and mix very well.
- Add this to the heated coconut milk and use an immersion hand blender to blend the Xanthan gum into the mixture properly - for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender to do this as well (just make sure your blender can handle hot liquids - if not, let the mixture cool down first and then proceed with this step).
- The liquid should be thick but NOT GLOOPY. If it is gloopy, add a little water to thin it out to a thick consistency.
- Let it cool completely and chill overnight in the fridge.
With ice cream machine
- Churn the base according to the manufacturers' instructions and let it harden completely in a container for a few hours.
No churn method
- Transfer the base into a shallow dish, and keep it in the freezer, covered.
- Using a hand mixer, mix this mixture every hour incorporating air each time. Repeat every hour until the ice cream is completely frozen.
- Serve as is or with Cardamom Cashew Praline.
Cardamom cashew praline
- Prepare a silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray to pour the praline on.
- To caramelize sugar using the dry method - in a shallow nonstick pan, sprinkle the sugar in an even thin layer and heat the sugar on medium heat.
- As the sugar starts to melt, move the sugar around to ensure it melts evenly which may result in some sugar clumps being formed. Keep heating the sugar while moving it around from time to time. DO NOT LEAVE THE SUGAR UNATTENDED.
- The sugar will start to turn colour and melt completely. When the sugar turns a golden colour, sprinkle the cardamom over the caramel. When the sugar turns an amber colour, immediately remove from the heat and add the cashew, and using a spoon mix to coat the nuts as much as possible.
- While still hot, pour this onto your silpat and flatten (using the spoon) as much as possible. BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THIS MIXTURE AS IT WILL BE VERY HOT!
- Let it cool and harden completely.
- Using the handle of a big knife or a pestle, break it into small pieces. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.
- This can be sprinkled on any kind of ice cream or dessert.
Tips & Tricks
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”
So will you like it? I think you MOST DEFINITELY WILL! 🙂
As far as I know, no one has made Watalappan ice cream before, but for those of you have have had the classic custard, this has all the same and wonderful flavours, but creamier, just like an ice cream is supposed to be. And of course it’s vegan too. This recipe isn’t as rich as the regular custard because it doesn’t contain egg yolks, but I’ve made sure it tastes just as freaking amazing! 🙂
And for those of you who haven’t had the classic watalappan (cardamom and nutmeg spiced coconut custard) – The coconut here makes it deliciously creamy and together with the molassy dark brown sugar and the beautiful warmth of cardamom and nutmeg, you get an ice cream that will taste unlike anything you’ve had before! And to top it all off (quite literally), the sweet cardamom-cashew praline adds a sweet-spicy crunch that will make eating this ice cream a truly addictive experience! 🙂 Trust me on that one too.
If you want to be adventurous with your ice cream this summer – THIS is what you’ve got to try!
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I will be sharing this post at Saucy Saturdays, FoodieFriDIY, Fiesta Fridays.
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