This vegan chocolate cherry chunk ice cream is rich and creamy with whole cherries, cherry syrup, and chunks of dark chocolate swirled through it. We can hardly believe it, either.
If you love cherries, this ice cream was made for you. The almond extract enhances the cherry flavor to bring it to the next level. This ice cream is thick and creamy while being fruity and chocolatey all at the same time.–Christina Leopold
*Exactly How Thawed Should the Frozen Cherries Be?
For this recipe, you want the cherries still frozen but not icy. Cold enough that they won’t warm up the base and cause it to melt but not so cold that you’ll end up with brain-freeze-inducing ice chunks in that mind-blowingly delicious ice cream you’ve worked so hard to create.
Vegan Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
For the cherry ice cream
- 2/3 cup raw unsalted cashews
- 1 can (13 1/2 oz) coconut cream (or use the fat layer from 2 cans of coconut milk)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (solid)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 3/4 cups frozen cherries defrosted and strained (reserve the juice and half of the cherries for the sauce)*
- 2 ounces chopped vegan-friendly dark chocolate
For the cherry sauce
- 1/2 cup cherry juice (reserved from above; add water to reach 1/2 cup if necessary)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/4 cups defrosted cherries (reserved from above)
- 1 1/2 ounces chopped vegan-friendly dark chocolate for garnish
- Fresh cherries for garnish
Make the cherry ice cream
- In a medium bowl, cover the cashews with water and soak for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse with clean water. Alternatively, you can cover the cashews with boiling water and soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse with clean water.
- In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, the coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a high-speed blender. Add 1 1/4 cups of the defrosted cherries and blitz until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate the ice cream mixture while you make the cherry sauce.
Make the cherry sauce
- In a small saucepan, whisk the cherry juice and cornstarch until no lumps remain.
- Set over medium heat, add the water and maple syrup, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened to the consistency of pie filling, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup defrosted cherries. Let the mixture cool completely, then chill until the ice cream is finished churning. (We mean it. Don’t add warm sauce to your ice cream base.)
- Move the ice cream mixture to your ice cream maker and churn for a total of 40 minutes or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After about 10 minutes of churning, add the chopped dark chocolate chunks to the ice cream machine.
- Once the ice cream is thick and has finished churning, move it to a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in about 3/4 of the cooled cherry sauce.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
☞TESTER TIP: To get your parchment to stay put in the loaf pan, you can slick the loaf pan with coconut oil.
- Move the ice cream to the prepared pan and top with the remaining sauce and chocolate chunks. Cover the ice cream tightly with parchment paper and freeze for 4 hours.
- Let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before scooping. Serve topped with fresh cherries.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
As a vegan ice cream, I think it was a good recipe. The taste of the ice cream reminded me of a cherry liquor. It did lack the creaminess of non-vegan ice cream for me but its texture was very interesting. The coconut seemed to have formed small spheres in the ice cream which melted in my mouth and the chocolate pieces created an interesting crunch.
The instruction to use only the thick part of two tins of coconut milk annoyed me as I wondered if this would differ from tin to tin. I wanted the instruction to be more precise. In my case it turned out to be about half of each tin that I used. I kept the more watery liquid for another purpose. I also found that I got very little juice from the defrosted cherries-only 48ml in my case. Another irritation was that after I had removed 155g of cherries for the sauce I was left with only 115g for the ice cream. I still had frozen cherries left so I would recommend weighing out the amounts of cherries suggested in each case, rather than this subtraction technique that left me short.
After step 2 the mixture looked curdled or as though there was dessicated coconut in a thick puree. I found the churn time to be accurate in step 3. In step 5 the sauce came to a thick sauce quickly which had the consistency of bought cherry pie filling after I had added the cherries to it. I used the coconut oil to grease the loaf tin to get the parchment paper to stick to it. This ensures that the recipe stays vegan (instead of using butter) and does not taint the ingredients by using vegetable oil or butter.
I wondered how best to release the ice cream from the tin, should I blow torch the outside of the tin or just leave it to melt a little. I decided on the latter as the easiest option. It took about 5 minutes for the ice cream to slide out of the mold.
If one wants a vegan creamy cherry ice cream, I think this is a good candidate. The flavor of the cherry is not front and center and the flavor of the coconut comes through a bit more than I would want in a cherry ice cream, but again, it tastes very nice.
Originally published February 08, 2021