I've experimented with making a vegan ice cream before, and found it to be pretty good, but I was excited to see that Jeni had included her own version of a vegan ice cream in her new book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts (thanks for the housewarming gift, Ellen!). She uses a combination of almond milk, tapioca starch, raw cashews, and coconut oil in the Crème Sans Lait (French for cream without milk) to simulate the texture of frozen cream and milk. I tweaked the recipe so that there were less containers to wash; with these directions you end up only using one saucepan and a blender to make the base!
When you taste it, you're going to notice immediately that it's not real ice cream. But, it is the best vegan ice cream I've ever had. It's incredibly creamy, which I think comes from the coconut oil, but it doesn't taste like coconuts or cashews or almonds; it just tastes like real vanilla. I love that it scoops and melts like real ice cream, and it goes great with pies, cakes, and all the other desserts you'll have for Thanksgiving!
2 3/4 cups almond milk, divided
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 1/4 cups refined coconut oil, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds and bean reserved
Pulverize the raw cashews into a very fine paste in a good blender. Add the coconut oil and blend until combined. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the 2 1/2 cups of almond milk, the sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla seeds and bean pod in a 4-quart saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until bubbling. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of almond milk with the tapioca starch in the measuring cup you used to make a smooth slurry.
Drizzle the tapioca starch slurry into the bubbling almond milk mixture, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 30 seconds until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat.
Remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into the blender with the cashews and coconut oil. Blend on high for 3 minutes to homogenize. Then pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the crème base into the canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the crème into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.