After having mentioned wild hickory nuts it got me thinking about the black walnuts which have been doing time in the freezer for several years and seldom used.
In anticipation of accumulating enough hickory nuts to use in a recipe, I explored the possibilities by using black walnuts in an ice cream. Black walnuts have a strong distinctive flavor which some find objectionable. To the uninitiated it can be perceived as an “off” taste and might even be assumed to have gone stale. Even for those who like it it is usually a flavor they acquired a taste for.
For no particular reason I ended up making this ice cream vegan. I guess to see if vegan ice cream can actually be made to have the smooth and creamy consistency of real ice cream. Although I have an ice cream churn I wouldn’t be making a large enough quantity to warrant using it.
I began by pouring hot water over raw cashews and black walnuts and letting them soak for a few hours.
I blended the soaked nuts as well as possible with a stick blender, adding almond milk as needed. I then poured the blended cashews and black walnuts into a sauce pan along with a can of coconut milk, some demerara sugar and half a vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped. This was stirred and warmed on the stove at low heat until the demeara sugar dissolved.
After removing the vanilla bean pod, I poured everything into a stand blender and blended for a couple of minutes. I wanted to avoid, if at all possible, the graininess I associate with “healthy ice creams” and ones made without an ice cream maker.
In a small container with a little almond milk I whisked in a little tapioca starch and two or three pinches of xanthan gum. This slurry was poured into the pot on the stove along with the contents of the blender. I also added some pieces of black walnut which had been roasted in a dry skillet. The mixture was heated without being brought to a boil while whisking constantly until it thickened to a thin gravy consistency.
After it had cooled a little, I poured it into a container and placed it in the freezer.
After a few hours I scraped the sides and bottom (which freeze first) and blended using the beverage and milkshake blending rod on the hand mixer. It went back in the freezer for a couple more hours then brought out and blended again.
Ice cream is at its best when first made before it is completely frozen.
The flavor of this ice cream was excellent. Texture was not as creamy as I had hoped, but was slightly icy like an ice milk, however it wasn’t grainy at all. It was very hard when completely frozen and had to sit out on the counter for awhile before it could be scooped to serve. As the ice cream melted it did have quite a creaminess to it. All in all, I was very pleased.