It’s the hottest summer we’ve had in years. And it’s wild peach season! So why not put one and one together and make a big batch of wild peach ice cream? With the delicate flavour of peaches which are now at their best, it makes the perfect summer refreshment. It takes just a few ingredients, a blender and a bit of patience while the whole thing sets in the freezer and you’ll be ready to sit back and enjoy.
When it comes to frozen treats, I’m usually a nicecream or granita kind of girl. For this one, though, I wanted to go full-blown creamy and I made several test batches to get it to have the flavour and structure I was looking for. With vegan ice cream, there’s always the risk of starting with beautiful ingredients and ending up with a gritty, crystallised treat, or even worse, an unscoopable solid block of ice. And I’ve had my share of those in the past… Fortunately, a bit of research and a lot of practice taught me that it’s actually quite easy to achieve that perfect scoop, just by taking two things into account. Your creamy ice cream needs fat and it needs sugar. Using a base with a high enough fat content, like full-fat coconut milk, and using just a bit of syrupy sweetener helps along the freezing process, yielding velvety soft icecream, rather than icy one.
In order to pare down the coconutty flavour and because I love the flavour combination of peaches and almonds, I combined the coconut milk with homemade almond milk. For convenience, I first tried a version with ready-made almond milk. Since this is quite watery, I thickened it with cornflour to make a traditional custard-like base, but even so, the frozen result was icy and not that pleasant. The version below, made with homemade almond milk, just hit all the right notes. The almond milk in this recipe is richer and more concentrated in flavour. This means that without having to go through the trouble of cooking your ice cream mixture down with cornstarch, the result will be smooth and creamy and it will taste better. Since making the almond milk itself is quite effortless, I’d call that a win on all accounts.
If you like your ice cream structured, you can add chopped toasted almonds and extra bits of peach to the ice cream base, or you can freeze it as is and enjoy it creamy and plain. Whichever way you choose, I hope you’ll enjoy and keep a cool head in the middle of this heat wave.
Happy summer days!
Almond and wild peach ice cream – makes about 1 litre
- 130 g blanched almonds, soaked in cold water overnight
- 350 ml cold water
- 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
- 60 ml agave syrup or other syrupy sweetener
- 6 wild peaches, washed and stoned, skin on (see note below)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Plus: extra slices of peach and roughly chopped almonds, to serve
If you prefer, you can of course choose to peel the peaches before use. There’s no need, though, because when you blend them, the skin will completely disappear in the mixture, leaving nothing in your ice cream but that pretty pastel peach colour and, okay, maybe some red flecks. If you object to the last, you can pour the blended mixture through a sieve before freezing it.
If you intend to use an ice cream machine, make sure the freezing element is completely frozen before you start preparing the ice cream mixture.
Rinse and strain the almonds. Tip them into a blender, along with the fresh water, then whizz until as smooth as possible.
Get a large bowl ready. Pour the almond mixture into a nut milk bag, or into a sieve lined with firm kitchen paper. Drain the almond mixture over the bowl and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. This will yield about 350 ml of fresh almond milk.
In a small saucepan, lightly warm through the coconut milk to liquefy any solid bits of coconut cream.
Rinse the blender, then add the coconut milk, almond milk, agave syrup, peaches and vanilla extract. Whizz until completely smooth. If any speckles of red skin remain and you don’t want them in your ice cream, rub the mixture through a sieve before cooling it completely.
Pour the peach mixture into an ice cream maker and churn acording to the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour it into a freezer container and freeze for 4-6 hours. After the first hour, take out the container, stir through the mixture and crush any formed ice crystals with a fork or a stick blender. Repeat every hour until the mixture is creamy and set, then let it freeze completely.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer about ten minutes before you want to serve it, to let it soften a bit. Then scoop into balls, top with the slices of peach and chopped almonds and enjoy!