How To Make Vegan Sundae
You don't just throw together an epic vegan ice cream sundae by accident. No, these things take strategy, time, and skill. You'll probably have more options than you know what to do with, and you might spiral into a panic if you try to go it alone. But there's no need to because we—the pros at finding vegan ice cream and decadent toppings—will walk you through it.
Like so much else in the vegan world, plant-based ice cream has come on leaps and bounds in both range and quality in recent years as the market for it has grown. However, many commercial varieties still replace dairy and eggs with a long list of perfectly harmless yet less than enticing ingredients such as fully refined soybean oil. Without stabilizers, the homemade kind may not last quite as well in the freezer, but, frankly, it doesn't need to: it's unlikely to be in there long.
When it comes to eating vegan, the number one question on most meat-eaters minds is “What do you eat?” The answer is “Anything we want!” Nowadays, there are vegan versions of everything—from meatless bacon and pulled “pork” jackfruit to plant-based jerky and mock lobster. Vegan-friendly menus are sprouting up everywhere—even White Castle offers veggie burgers—and more and more eateries are focusing exclusively on plant-based foods. There are many vegan dairy-replacement options, including ice cream, milk, cream cheeses, and more.
Why Go Vegan?
Veganism is not a fad. It's a way of living for good reason. As it stands now, the animal agriculture industry is the leading cause of global warming and a cruel way of life for the animals involved. Veganism recognizes the indisputable fact that animals should be protected from all forms of harm and exploitation and that reducing their number – not their abuse – is the way to achieve this. With this in mind, Veganuary might well be a good idea for you and might help you reduce your use of animal products in the months ahead.
The reasons behind going vegan are as varied as animal species, but the most common one is for ethical reasons. If you've ever eaten on a raw food diet, you'll already be a big fan of reducing your carbon footprint and opting for cruelty-free meat and dairy. Just as being vegan is about raising consciousness about animal welfare issues and raising the profile of vegans and plant-based foods in the mainstream, so too is it a way of buying into the philosophy of social and environmental change, which so many in the animal rights movement are promoting.
Okay, I know that being vegan is only a minority choice in our culture but, if you're into food, you're probably already exploring the world of vegan cooking, no matter what your reasoning for it might be. Chances are you've come across it if you live in or near a big city, or if you've been on holiday and eaten out at a restaurant.
This is no coincidence: veganism, in general, has become mainstream over the last few years. You can make an educated guess as to why, but here are some theories: The World Wildlife Fund estimates that at least 2,500 animal species (including about 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) are threatened with extinction because of human activity. Food and agriculture have been some of the most significant contributors to climate change.
Benefits Of Being Vegan
When I started my self-imposed years-long dessert-less diet, I couldn't see past the ethical and environmental advantages: vegan ice-creams generally cost a lot less than their dairy-based counterparts (or can be grown in your backyard, if you've got the space), don't need to be hormone- and pesticide-treated, and don't involve the suffering of billions of animals. A quick Google search (it's all I have time for these days) turned up several recipes for homemade vegan ice cream that, once made, freeze well and are ready in less than 30 minutes.
Most people see the health and environmental benefits of going vegan. By eating less meat and dairy, you will consume less saturated fat and more plant-based fats, such as those from olive, rapeseed and sunflower oils, making you more cholesterol- and fat-free, as well as less likely to consume cholesterol-raising saturated fat.
Reducing your dietary intake of animal products is also likely to result in a lower environmental impact, as you will consume fewer saturated fats, which have a higher carbon footprint, and fewer refined carbohydrates, which have a higher environmental impact. At this point, most people start to panic and proclaim, “But what about the texture?” Trust me. It's okay. The texture of ice cream will be more like a dairy version in terms of a mix of creaminess and ice-crystal, but for vegans, it's a boon.
What Is A Vegan Sundae?
Essentially, a Vegan Sundae is vegan ice cream with a dollop of vegan whipped cream on top. It doesn't sound straightforward but is relatively straightforward to create when pouring a glass of wine. All you need to make the actual ice cream is nut or other seed-based alternatives to dairy: soy, sunflower or coconut, oat, hazelnut, cashew, almond, rice or linseed, walnut, sunflower, hemp, quinoa or sesame.
Most of these are also very inexpensive and easy to find in supermarket ice cream form. To make the cream, you'll need natural cream. You can quickly get it from the dairy section, but sometimes supermarkets will sell a vegan alternative instead. A low-fat or non-fat vegan alternative (such as coconut cream) is often used, but soya or cashew cream will work too.
If a bit of ice cream is already a classic starter for a restaurant, it's time for a bit of tweaking at home. The purpose of any sundae is to bring together a variety of different tastes and textures so that, by the time it's all said and done, you're not even sure you know what you are eating anymore.
It's about consuming the best elements of everything we've consumed today and mixing it all in a way that will improve your overall experience. As a vegan dessert, the focus is mainly on what we don't eat and more creamy, ‘traditional' ice-cream flavours and, to a lesser extent, but still present, sweet or sherbert toppings.
First and foremost, a vegan sundae is ice cream without dairy or egg or any animal products. It can be completely vegan or completely non-vegan – this is a matter of personal preference. Although some people may not eat meat or may be sensitive to dairy, both are very common among vegans: not only can dairy and eggs be highly damaging to the health of our bodies, but there's an industry built up around both of these products, of which there are plenty of reasons why we should be keeping away from them. But, for most people, any animal products in our diets come from the products we make at home.
Vegan Ice Cream
This recipe makes enough to cover around 4 – 5 ice-creams (depending on the size of the dish). This could be served in bowls or ramekins, spooned out over sundaes, or half-filled with a pint glass or milk jug for a one-bowl treat. Please note, most milk work here: rice, soy, almond, or coconut milk, or water (plus a pinch of salt), are all excellent choices. Use a sugar-free topping if needed, and you'll have a vegan delight everyone will enjoy.
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed,
- 2 large ice cream scoops (homemade or shop-bought),
- 250ml full-fat coconut milk,
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 pinch of salt (or 1 tbsp vegan honey),
- 3 tbsp cacao powder, and
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract.
Traditionally, the main ingredient for vegan ice cream has been refined soybean oil, which helps maintain the texture of the frozen dessert and delivers an additional boost of protein to help the product retain its gel-like consistency.
What Are The Benefits Of A Vegan Sundae?
Vegans can turn their attention to some of the reasons why they might want to eat a plant-based diet and incorporate ice cream into their meals or make it part of a healthful dessert. For a start, they can put their need to avoid animal products down to a political commitment to ethical concerns, which are the prime reason for going vegan in the first place.
They can give something back to the planet and help avoid the suffering of millions of farmed animals; they can avoid the expensive and highly-processed artificial sweetener, which is so often part of a non-vegan sundae. What's more, a sundae is simply a perfect excuse for having a delicious and nutritionally dense dessert.
It's all very well to have nice, creamy vegan ice cream, but if you're looking for something a bit more substantial, then you might want to consider a vegan version of the classic sundae. Ice cream's lovely on its own, but this version is just as good as whipped cream. A little vegan chocolate sauce is all it needs.
- It tastes just as good as dairy ice cream (the reason is the lower fat content)
- It's easily customizable: you can choose which kind of sweet treat you want in your ice-cream
- The coconut oil gives it a wonderfully rich texture, and the spirulina gives it a brilliant blue colour
- If you want to serve it with extra toppings (yes, some of us do), it's a very forgiving dessert
Ingredients Of A Vegan Sundae
- 2 cups of vegan Greek yogurt
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup agave nectar (stabilized sweetener)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (divided into 4 or 6 and pressed in the palm of your hand to make into a bit of ball)
- 1 1/2 cup almond or other nut butter
- 1 t soy sauce
- 2 t sesame oil
- 2 t cashew cream
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Cooked hemp seeds
- 1/2 t red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Make the topping while the base is in the freezer.
- Take 1 1/2 c cashew or almond butter and throw it into a bowl.
- Add 1 t maple syrup,
- 2 t soy sauce and
- 2 t sesame oil.
- Stir it all around to combine.
- Now take a handful of the coconut sugar and crush it in a separate bowl with the exact nuts and coconut oil quantities.
The only non-vegan ingredients in this sundae are avocado, walnuts and coconut oil, which you need for the coconut cream, and ginger, which you need to season the tofu and help it soften slightly.
You will need tofu (I used Lightly Sweetened Tofu), peeled and cut into small pieces, coconut oil for cooking the tofu, ginger, grated or finely chopped, water for soaking the tofu, and flour, for thickening the soy-free ice cream.
The final product should look similar to a traditional sundae, but this vegan version can be made much faster than a dairy-based one as it relies on this soy-free ice cream to absorb the water from the watercress.
This sundae requires only common ingredients. Sweet potato, for one. You won't believe the difference a sweet potato makes when you prepare it to make a silky smooth puree. One half a medium sweet potato will provide you with just enough to fill two standard muffin tins.
The next and most elusive ingredient is the date syrup you can get online for a very reasonable price and, while it will take a couple of hours to make, it's worth the wait because it is stunningly good. The only trouble is that a single significant date will make a single pot of date syrup. If you make a few pots, you won't be able to see the difference.
How To Make Vegan Sundae
Now, though, the days of store-bought ‘sundae' that tastes like it has been smooshed into a pipe or, even better, that resembles an eggy cucumber have gone, along with the shops and restaurants that stocked them. Thanks to upmarket purveyors such as Milk and Honey, Gurkha, Milas, and We Got Milk. I'm one of those people who can be all ‘la-la-la I'm vegan' when they walk into an ice-cream parlour, grab a cone and go for a happy dance.
Vegan ice cream isn't just about trying to impress people with your skills and culinary mastery, though. There's also something utterly sweet about being able to share a sweet treat with the people you love. As a dessert, it's a bit of a timeless classic.
Please think of the last time you thought about something so soapy, and over the top, you wanted to burst into a song about it. Of course, this can be done in the ice cream itself, but it's far more impressive when you can sneak in some form of vegan option as an accompaniment. For some of us, that's the fun bit – the fun bit is thinking about all the things we can do.
You will need:
- In a blender, put 300g chocolate-dipped, vegan, full-fat coconut milk
- 500ml of milk of choice
- 25g of raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Vanilla extract
- Blackstrap molasses or other dark sugar or honey
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp salt
- The chocolate.
- And the nuts.
Blend it all until smooth. If it seems dry or chalky at the beginning, add a small amount of water or, better still, a pinch of cocoa powder.
One batch. Now, spread the mixture in a baking tray and freeze it for an hour. If your chocolate isn't hot enough, this may be the reason why: just for the record, it has to be a single, hard, smooth cube or bar that you break into chunks beforehand. I wouldn't use a melted bar.
Best Vegan Sundae
Most ice-creams are meant to be eaten as is, so I've designed the Vegan Sundae in a way that's most likely to give you that chilled and gooey feeling you get from a nice sundae, and it tastes just as good. Without the added dairy, you get a perfect combination of the light, fluffy texture and rich texture of dairy ice cream – as well as the caramel, chocolate and a hint of coconut that only comes from coconut milk.
For vegan versions that have had all these good things stripped out, I recommend trying Marjeeta from TheVeganChick.com (chicken is also a great substitute, as is soya), and Vivani Artisan Ice Cream is based on cashew and made in Bristol, England.
My all-time favourite vegan ice cream is pretty much precisely the same as regular ice cream. Sugar is replaced with coconut sugar and vanilla extract, and the base is a milk-based ice cream made with cashews, just like the best chocolate-based ice-creams. It tastes the same as the real thing, and it's super easy to make!
If you fancy making your own, all you need are 4 medium-sized, ripe bananas, four large tubs of soft-drink ice cream, a can of full-fat coconut milk, four vegan-friendly vanilla beans, a pinch of salt, a bar of chocolate and enough cold water to soak the beans. Peel the bananas and slice them into eighths, and then mash them into a mash.
While many are more adventurous, try the Green Smoothie or Coconut Mango Yogurt Sundae recipes from our shop, where I've made an accessible and fast-to-make version of the most classic all-vegan ice creams: the Blackberry Sundae.
Blackberry Ice Cream Ingredients:
- 170g Greek-style yogurt
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- 6 blackberries
- 15g cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- In a large bowl, mix the honey, vanilla and yogurt.
- Pour in the blackberries, cornflour and orange juice and stir to combine.
- Spoon into a serving bowl and freeze for at least 4 hours.
- To serve, mix the cornstarch with the remaining 2 tbsp honey and whisk well. Spoon the ice cream into small glasses or bowls and sprinkle with the cornstarch.
Vegan Sundae vs Ordinary Sundae
One of the first things we do when we start experimenting with a new recipe is to rank the consistency of various liquid ingredients, such as milk, water, eggs, cream, etc. Classic dairy-based ice cream is likely to beat out a vegan version in this test.
The weight of each ingredient in this ‘sundae' is almost twice that of dairy-based ice cream, with the soy oil adding an extra punch of creaminess to keep the consistency lighter. Even so, vegan versions still freeze better than dairy-based varieties, which tend to be a little runny and look unappealing once frozen.
Vegan Sundae Method
For making your own, you'll need to assemble an ice-cream maker, preferably with its canister – one with a lid that keeps the lid on, rather than using a jar is ideal. The maker can be a jug, bowl, or one with two separate halves, but a canister with its lid is the best thing to have.
The exact number of ingredients you'll need to make your ice cream will depend on how much you make. Still, each batch will be around eight or nine eggs, half a cup or so of sweetener (we used Erythritol, the organic version of beetroot juice powder, for the beetroot flavour) and vanilla extract.
In our opinion, the best vegan ice cream is the one you make at home, in your kitchen. It may not have the pretty packaging that many of its commercial counterparts have, but it's the cream of the crop. We can't wait to go vegan.
Finally, I don't think I have ever tasted a vanilla bean better than the version here. After all, making ice cream from the fruit used in the ice cream is a much less environmentally friendly option than using vanilla beans produced on a large scale in vanilla farms, primarily as the ones used to produce the flavoured ice cream we have here only took a few hours to make instead of several months. As such, our simple vanilla bean ice cream is as ethical as it is delicious.
I trust you enjoyed reading the article about How To Make Vegan Sundae. Please stay tuned. There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
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Ideas? Thoughts? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you please leave me your questions, experience, and remarks about How To Make VeganSundae in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.
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