Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream: FAIL

I decided to try making a vegan soy-based ice cream.  I received "The Vegan Scoop" as a gift and this was my first try at using the ideas from it.  After reading about the trouble with soy-based ice cream flavors on Ice Cream Geek, I decided to try making an intense chocolate.  I've had good luck with chocolate in the past, even with Alice Medrich's very simple Sicilian Chocolate Gelato recipe, which was my first experience with cornstarch-thickened ice cream.

The chocolate recipe in The Vegan Scoop didn't look like it had enough chocolate in it to me, so I tried using the amounts from Jeni's "Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World," as well as adding the coffee that she uses.  I followed The Vegan Scoop's suggestions, using a mix of soy milk and soy creamer, with arrowroot for thickening, and used a bit more sugar than I normally like to offset all the cocoa powder.

The arrowroot seemed to work very well.  I've never seen such a thick and smooth custard from dairy-based ice creams when using similar amounts of cornstarch.  There are warnings all over the Internet to avoid using arrowroot with dairy due to a "slimy" texture, but I may have to try it for myself some time.

Unfortunately, the finished product is pretty disappointing.  It's icy and dense, with a distinct soy milk flavor.  Not what I was after at all.  It's edible, but the texture is a real letdown.  I think next time I will try adding a small amount of xanthan gum.  Soy milk is known to have problems holding air bubbles and adding an emulsifier like xanthan gum should help.  In my dairy-based ice cream, the cream cheese takes care of this.

I'm still having trouble with the mixture not freezing as much as I think it should in the ice cream maker.  It doesn't seem to get much colder (or incorporate more air) after the first 10 minutes.  I'm thinking I should chill the mixture in the freezer a little before putting it into the ice cream maker next time, but I'm wary of getting it too cold since I had such a bad experience trying to follow the Cook's Illustrated advice of mixing in a portion of frozen ice cream base just before churning.  (The mix was so cold that the ice cream maker seized up in the first 5 minutes and nearly broke my ice cream maker.)  My freezer is at it's lowest setting and my refrigerator is 2 degrees celsius, as recommended by Ice Cream Science, so I think the temperatures should be working, but it is pretty warm in Brooklyn today.


As it turns out, my wife really likes this ice cream!  She prefers icier, less creamy ice cream.  She also likes how much chocolate flavor this has, which I agree with but I still taste the soy a lot.

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

NOTES: Here's my current recipe for future reference.  I do not recommend you make this without some tweaks like additional emulsifiers!


  • 2 cups soy creamer
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsps arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 oz dark chocolate (Green & Black is vegan, if you care about that)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Mix 1/4 soy milk with arrowroot in a small bowl.
  2. Put all other ingredients in a saucepan.  Heat, stirring often, until all chocolate is melted.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
  3. Pour in arrowroot mixture while whisking.  Mixture should thicken quickly.
  4. Pour mixture into a container.  Let it sit until it reaches room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Strain mixture through fine mesh strainer and then freeze in an ice cream maker.

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