Dairy-free ice cream bars, made from cashews, honey, and coconut oil, are a dream come true for dairy-free eaters. Dipped in dark chocolate, they’ll rival nearly any summertime treat you could ask for.
There is a commercial ice-cream pop with a grandiose name and gold foil-lined package that I pick up as a picnic or post-lunch treat on summer weekends, and this is my reimagined, homemade dairy-free version. I serve my rendition of the pop on the weekend when entertaining at lunchtime, as they’re neither too heavy nor too sweet, and please adults and kids alike. They’re the antithesis of a perfunctory lunchtime dessert.
I’m immensely proud of this recipe—the texture and taste is bang on. I believe it’s worth purchasing an ice pop mold for these, you will definitely make good use of it: I also use mine for smoothie pops, yogurt and fruit pops, homemade fudge pops, and more.–Allison Day
HOW CAN I STOP THESE DAIRY-FREE ICE CREAM BARS FROM MELTING?
To keep the bars from melting too quickly when serving (though out of direct sunlight, they won’t melt for up to 10 minutes), fill a large plate or shallow bowl with ice and cover it with plastic wrap. Place bars on the plastic wrap and bring them out to the table.
Dairy-Free Ice Cream Bars
- Silicone icepop mold (6 oz or smaller)
- Popsicle sticks
For the ice cream bars
- 1 cup unsalted raw cashews
- 2/3 cup just-boiled water from the kettle
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate shell
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
- 2 tablespoons toppings of choice such as chopped nuts, cacao nibs, matcha, flaky salt
Make the ice cream bars
- In a high-speed blender combine the cashews, just-boiled water, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the cashews to soften.
- Blend on high until the mixture is completely smooth, creamy, and liquefied, 45 to 60 seconds.
- Pour into a silicone ice pop mold and slide in the sticks. Freeze until solid, at least 8 hours.
Make the chocolate shell
- Line a plate or rimmed baking sheet (one that fits into your freezer) with parchment paper. Remove frozen bars from the freezer and release them from the mold. Place bars on prepared plate or baking sheet and return them back to the freezer while melting the chocolate.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil, stir in the cocoa powder. Pour the chocolate mixture into a tall glass measuring cup or heatproof drinking glass. Allow it to cool slightly so it’s not too hot but remains liquid for dipping, about 10 minutes.
- Working one at a time, dip the ice cream bars into the chocolate (halfway or fully coated, your preference), keeping each bar upside down until the chocolate shell has hardened, 30 to 45 seconds. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Working one at a time again, with the remaining chocolate, drizzle thin streaks over the set chocolate and immediately sprinkle on your preferred toppings.
☞TESTER TIP: If you have bananas on hand, any leftover chocolate can be used to make chocolate banana pops.
- Stash in the freezer until you are ready to serve. Store the ice cream bars in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This process for dairy-free ice cream bars was really simple and fun, and the results were just incredible. I can see this being a really neat family project—kids or partners getting to pick their own toppings to dress the pops and enjoy together later.
My recipe turned out more like almost-vegan ice cream truffles than pops because I used small spherical molds, and that was actually absolutely perfect. The interior is lush and creamy without being overly sweet, and can definitely be adapted with slight tweaks in the blend to adjust the flavor. Likewise, the topping situation is absolutely based on personal preference and creativity. The chocolate shell is the perfect shell texture, crisp in a delicate but assertive way that perfectly complements the decadent creamy interior. It’s tough to stop at one serving. I’ll also likely be buying an ice pop set up to try these again in the originally intended form.
Some more flavor ideas I have had that I will 100% try in the future:
~ Lime juice/zest in filling, and some graham crackers as a topping (key lime pie style)
~ Toasted macadamia nuts under the shell, toasted coconut on top
~ Double chocolate (filling and shell)
~ Tiramisu (add instant coffee to filling)
~ Rum raisin (stir in some overnight rum-soaked raisins after the filling is blended and before freezing)
~ Swap honey for coconut sugar or maple syrup in the recipe to make it 100% vegan and slightly change the sweet profile
~ Blend into the filling some ground cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves for a chai version
I have such fond memories of summer nights on Cape Cod and giant soft-serve ice-cream swirls dipped in “magic shell.” As someone who can’t eat much dairy, I was especially excited to try this recipe for dairy-free ice cream bars. While I thought the chocolate shell was perfect, the ice cream itself could use a bit more flavor. I’d try 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or even try making chocolate ice cream. I found the ice cream stuck between savory and sweet.
It should also be noted that you need to use a high-speed blender such as a Ninja or a Vitamix in order to get the nut mixture creamy enough. Also, I tried using both an old-school hard popsicle mold where the bars start upside down and a silicone mold where the bars are set up on their side and you slip the stick in along the side. I found the silicone molds were much easier from which to get the bars released. The old school molds were nearly impossible to get the bars out of since the ice cream wasn’t that hard, I often just pulled the sticks right out of them.
I sprinkled roasted cacao and sea salt flakes on half and old-fashioned sprinkles or “jimmies” on the other half. I used chopped toasted nuts on the bananas I made with the extra chocolate.
This recipe worked as described. We followed the instructions for the method and timing precisely, and everything worked well. The hands-on time is less than 25 minutes total, but be sure to factor in the 8 hours of freezer time. Our pops required freezing overnight before they were fully frozen and ready for dipping. Once frozen, we loosened the pops by running hot water over the bottom part of the pop to loosen for the dipping part of the recipe.
After freezing the pops overnight, we melted the coating ingredients in a shallow small pan over simmering water, waited 10 minutes to allow the coating to cool slightly as instructed, then dipped the sides of the pops directly into the shallow pan rather than transferring to another vessel. We allowed the first dip to harden completely (parchment paper on a plate in the freezer is handy for this stage) before a second dip.
The chocolate coating is delightfully crunchy and the filling is a perfect creamy texture. Our taste-testers responded with wildly different assessments regarding the flavor of the ice cream portion of the pop: two of four taste testers enthusiastically voted YES. One taster said, yes, let’s make this again, but add strawberries to the base. And, one voted no – too sweet and not ice-creamy enough.
We’ll certainly make these dairy-free ice cream bars again both using the original base recipe and with the option of adding strawberries to the puree. We love having non-dairy dessert options for our family and friends. All-in-all, this is a simple and satisfying sweet treat – for most, if not all.