Sometimes we do birthday cake at my house, and sometimes we do birthday pecan pie. You see, it’s one of our family traditions that my kids can request whatever dessert their heart desires for their special day, and that has led to some pretty interesting requests.
This year my oldest son requested homemade pecan pie, and though his birthday is still months away he’s pretty set on his choice . . . or at least he was until I mixed up a batch of this cold, creamy, decadent butter pecan ice cream.
Decisions, decisions. 🙂
Ever since my first experience gathering pecans by the bucketful at my grandmother’s house, I’ve been smitten with the flavor that pecans bring to pies, cookies, and of course ice cream. Since I’m dairy-free right now as part of my healing journey, ice cream made with traditional ingredients like heavy cream and whole milk is off the menu.
A few weeks ago, though, I finally figured out how to recreate the smooth, rich texture of real deal ice cream, and ever since I’ve been playing with all sorts of flavors – mint chocolate chip, vanilla chai, and this butter pecan.
Made with toasted pecans, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and homemade dairy-free caramel sauce, it has the smooth, buttery flavor I grew up loving . . . just without the butter. (We have the caramel sauce to thank for that.)
A batch of this stuff never sticks around long in my kitchen . . . probably because I keep wandering into the kitchen a few extra times a day for a quick spoonful. Though I would have never guessed it would be possible since it’s dairy-free, I think it’s actually my favorite butter pecan ice cream recipe ever.
Dairy-Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe
- Ice Cream Machine
- heat resistant bowl
- small pot
- measuring spoons
- baking sheet
- medium pot
Ice Cream Base
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 14 oz. full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (how to make vanilla extract)
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup sucanat (or coconut sugar)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp vanilla extract (how to make your own vanilla extract)
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- Place cashews in a heat resistant bowl. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and pour it over the cashews. Allow to soak for two hours before moving to step two. While the cashews are soaking, start toasting the pecans and preparing the buttery caramel.
To Toast The Pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and pour it over the pecans. Add ⅛ teaspoon salt and toss until well-coated.
- Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
To Make The Buttery Caramel
- Place the coconut milk, sucanat/coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil and salt in a medium pot.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- When the caramel has simmered for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- When the caramel has simmered for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes. When the caramel is done simmering, remove it from heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside.
Putting It All Together
- When the cashews have soaked for two hours, prepare your ice cream base by draining the them and placing them in a blender. Add all the remaining ice cream base ingredients (coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract) to the container. If you're using a high-speed blender, blend on high for about 2 minutes. If you're using a regular blender, blend for 3-4 minutes to make sure it is smooth.
- The ice cream mixture will become warm during the blending process, so when you're finished place it in the fridge to chill for about 30-45 minutes. (I leave mine in the blender container.)
- When the ice cream base has chilled, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to your manufacturer's instructions. Add the pecan mixture in during the last five minutes of churning. Make sure to spoon it in bit-by-bit so everything is well-distributed. If you dump it all in you'll get big clumps that are very delicious but more difficult to scoop evenly.
- When the ice cream is ready it should have a soft serve consistency. You can devour it right away, or if you prefer a firmer consistency transfer it into an airtight container and place in the freezer for 2-4 hours. I like to use a glass loaf pan with a lid. If the ice cream becomes too firm, let it soften at room temperature for 5-15 minutes before scooping.
More Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes
Coconut Custard – Light, wholesome, sweetened with maple syrup, and rich in healthy fats due to the egg yolks, this coconut custard recipe makes a delicious and easy anytime treat.
Gluten-Free Lemon Bars – Tart and sweet, these lemon bars are like little squares of sunshine on a plate. They’re made with a chewy, lemon-zest infused crust that’s topped with an extra-thick layer of melt-in-your-mouth creamy lemon filling.
Gluten-Free Brownies – These warm fudgy brownies are delicious with a scoop of ice cream.