How Does a Southwestern Vegan Eat Ice Cream?
Here in the Southwest, prickly pears are everywhere. Each year, I wait in anticipation of the ripening of their red fruit, juicy and sweet on the inside but protected on the outside with those spiny needles, some large, and some near invisible, that love to get into your skin and haunt you for days afterwards.
But, alas, it’s worth taking on the challenge of harvesting this fruit. My Predicaments with Prickly Pears blog from October 3, 2017 describes in detail how to harvest and juice this fruit. It freezes incredibly well, so there are always several containers of varying sizes tucked away for the moment when inspiration hits me.
And today was the day! I’m calling my prickly pear muse “Southwest Ice Cream” because its foundation is the prickly pear juice. It’s equally flanked with this amazing product that I found, Bananas Bottled Up Banana Wave Dairy Free Banana Milk .
Rounding out the Southwest flavor profile, it’s sweetened with agave and scented with fresh lime juice. A touch of Xanthan gum ensures that it has a creamy frozen consistency that is silky and scoopable (and sans that frozen icy texture that is too often akin with non-dairy ‘ice creams’).
Let the Magic Begin!
I started with about 5-1/2 cups of prickly pear juice that I reduced down to 4 cups. While it was still warm, I stirred in 2 cups of light golden agave, ½ cup lime juice, and 4 cups of the banana milk (the equivalent of one carton).
Into the blender went the mixture, and while it was whizzing on high speed, I added 1 teaspoon Xanthan gum and blended for another 2 minutes.
At this point, it is important to completely chill the mixture, just as you would with any ice cream blend, before processing it in your ice cream machine according to your machine’s instructions.
For me, my machine has a small bowl, so I needed to process it in two separate batches.
And here’s the great reveal! The tanginess of the prickly pear and the acidity from the lime juice juxtaposed with the gentle sweetness of the agave and banana milk make for one heck of an ice cream!
While you can certainly do some mix-ins, such as mini-chocolate chips and/or nuts, there is such a compliment of flavors with it straight up that I wouldn’t mess with it. You know that saying, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. I think that applies here. At most, I would serve it alongside a plain piece of pound cake or a shortcake-like biscuit.
Sometimes, less is more.