As soon as I saw Ashlae’s Cherry + Almond Butter Caramel Bars I knew I needed that caramel in my life, ASAP. So, I did the only thing that made sense at the time: I made a batch and stuck it in my fridge. I figured it would get swirled over oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream at some point in the future, but I didn’t have a definite plan for it. I just knew I couldn’t live a life without that thick, swirly, decadent-looking Almond Butter Caramel in it.
A few days later, when I realized I had gone the entire summer without making ice cream (the horror!), the stars aligned and I ended up using all that thick, glorious caramel inside a creamy, coconutty, cherry-studded batch of ice cream that made me do happy dances around the kitchen.
And now I present it to you, in all it’s creamy, caramel-swirly goodness.
The base of this ice cream is canned coconut milk, which keeps it extra rich and creamy. I added maple syrup to sweeten it up (though honey would work just as well!), and then dumped my coconut-maple liquid straight into the ice cream maker. No cooking, chilling, or complicated steps required here.
Once the coconut milk base churns in the ice cream maker, you’re going to dump in some frozen cherries and toasted coconut flakes for maximum texture and flavor. I used store-bought toasted coconut chips, but if you feel like turning your oven on and DIY-ing the toasted coconut, I originally planned to use this recipe.
In case you’re wondering, these are the toasted coconut flakes I buy. I love the Caramel Sea Salt flavor best, which is what I used here; they are seriously addictive. Be warned: once you buy them you will never not need them in your house. They’re so crunchy and perfectly toasty and sweetened with coconut sugar for that perfect caramel flavor…ugh. SO good. I’m not getting paid to tell you this, nor does Dang Foods sponsor me in any way; I just seriously love those coconut chips.
Once you’ve loaded your ice cream up with tons of cherries and toasted coconut, all that’s left to do is scoop half the ice cream into a container, layer on the caramel, cover it with the rest of the ice cream and stick in in the freezer to firm up. Since the caramel is made primarily from dates and almond butter it’s extra thick and sticky, AKA the best for creating big swirls in every scoop of ice cream.
I added a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla to Ashlae’s original recipe, thinking the caramel would end up in my oatmeal, and loved the tiny hint of cinnamon that ended up in the ice cream instead.
If you’re anything like me, you’re starting to get anxious that summer is passing you by. That August is already here, and you haven’t lived your summer to the fullest. That you still need to go to the beach a thousand more times, make s’mores, go kayaking, and get so, so many more ice cream cones. The good news is, you can make your own ice cream, swirl it with the most thick, dreamy almond butter caramel, and breathe in all the beauty that’s still left in the summer.
Happy Monday, Friends!
- 2-14oz cans full-fat coconut milk*
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (can sub honey)
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- small pinch of salt
- 1 cup frozen, pitted cherries
- 1 cup toasted coconut chips or flakes**
- I cup pitted Medjool dates (about 10-12)
- 1/4 cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 2 Tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- big pinch of salt
- 1. Make sure the base of your ice cream maker has been in the freezer for at least 12 hours before making the ice cream.
- 2. Whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to package instructions (mine takes about 25-30 minutes).
- 3. While ice cream churns, make caramel. Put dates and almond milk into a glass measuring cup (or other microwave-safe dish) and microwave for 30 seconds, until just warm. Pour warm dates and milk into the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender and add all remaining ingredients. Blend to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed. Caramel should be thick and sticky, with no lumps of dates remaining. If needed, caramel can be made up to 5 days in advance of the ice cream, and stored in the fridge.
- 4. Transfer the caramel to a bowl in the freezer to chill. While you're waiting, roughly chop the frozen cherries and use your hands to crush the coconut chips into small pieces. As soon as ice cream is done churning, add in cherries and coconut to the ice cream maker, letting them thoroughly mix in.
- 5. When ice cream is finished churning, scoop half of it into a freezer-safe container. Dollop chilled caramel on top of the ice cream, forming a thick layer. Cover with remaining ice cream, and transfer to the freezer to harden for at least 2 hours.
- 6. When ready to serve, remove ice cream from the freezer for 10 minutes before scooping. Ice cream keeps in the freezer, covered, for up to 2 weeks.
- *I used Whole Foods 365 Brand full-fat canned coconut milk for this recipe. Do not use light/low fat coconut milk in this recipe, or the ice cream won't be creamy enough.
- **I used store-bough 'Caramel Sea Salt' Toasted Coconut Chips by Dang Foods in this recipe. See a link in the blog post above for the coconut chips I used, and for a link to a DIY version if you'd like to make your own.