Sweet Sundays: Alisa Fleming ~ Did you know that this month is National Ice Cream Month? Yes, big shock, the middle of summer is a time to celebrate ice cream – we hardly needed a special “holiday” to create awareness for this popular dessert. Nonetheless, it is so fabulous to be able to join in the fun with dairy-free and vegan ice cream. The options now abound, from homemade recipes to dozens upon dozens of store bought frozen treats. You can find creamy desserts made with coconut milk, hemp, rice, cashews, soy, or almonds instead of dairy. But why stop at a simple scoop? …
The other day I ran across a Rachael Ray recipe for S’Mores Ice Cream Sundaes. Seriously? I know some might argue, but this creation just escalated Ms. Ray to genius in my book. A graham cracker crust, chocolate or vanilla ice cream, oodles of shaved chocolate curls, and a big toasted marshmallow … pure genius.
Of course, the extra components to this recipe require a bit more consideration when creating a free-from dessert. Here are my tips for customizing this sundae to your dietary needs, followed by the dairy-free recipe itself, of course …
Graham Crackers – Surprisingly some brands do contain dairy, and many brands are made with a myriad of highly processed ingredients. I like to use New Morning Grahams, which are the only organic brand on the market. These, like most, do contain honey, so for strictly vegan and honey-free grahams, I would turn to Sweet & Sara (those billowy grahams in the photo above – picture by Hannah Kaminsky) or Health Valley. You could also try your hand at these Homemade Vegan Graham Crackers from Vegan Yum Yum. For gluten-free and casein-free, I love the Smoreable Graham-Style Crackers from Kinnikinnick.
Dairy-Free Ice Cream – The sky is the limit here. Almost every brand of dairy-free / vegan ice cream comes in chocolate or vanilla. For chocolate, I love the coconut milk-based ice creams, like So Delicious or Coconut Bliss. For vanilla, I find that the soy-based ice creams are the tastiest (the vanilla flavor is often overwhelmed in the coconut-based ones), but I also like Tempt in Vanilla, which is a hemp and rice based ice cream. Of course, I like to make my own vanilla ice cream at home, too – I typically use the recipe in Go Dairy Free. Experiment and find your favorite!
Chocolate – Not all chocolate is dairy-free, and to make it even more confusing, some companies add dairy to their dark chocolate confections too! Read the labels, there are many dairy-free brands on the market, but if your milk allergy or lactose intolerance is severe, I can recommend brands like Enjoy Life or Divvies. Both make scrumptious chocolate in dairy-free facilities. Oh, and if you don’t feel like any extra work, just get the Enjoy Life mini chips for this recipe and sprinkle them on liberally.
Marshmallows – Most brands of marshmallows and marshmallow creme are dairy-free, but they are often made with egg whites and/or gelatin. These ingredients can pose a problem for egg allergies and vegan diets. Fortunately, there are a few vegan brands on the market, like Dandies and Sweet & Sara. For an out-of-this-world marshmallow experience, try making your own at home with this "Traditional" Marshmallow Recipe or this Vegan Marshmallow Recipe.
Recipe adapted from the Food Network. This recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free – see the notes above.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and the margarine, oil, or shortening. Divide the crumb mixture between 4 dessert cups, pressing it in to line the sides and bottom of each cup.
Place one large scoop (or two if you’re feeling crazy) in each dessert cup, and shave curls of the dark chocolate over top of the ice cream using a vegetable peeler.
Pour on the marshmallow topping, or if using whole marshmallows, thread them on a metal skewer. Hold the skewer over a burner at high heat, and toast them, turning to evenly cook. Top each cup with a toasted marshmallow. Serve.
Makes 4 desserts
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Soy-Free.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, margarine and milk alternative. Place over low heat, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler, melt the marshmallows with the water. When melted, stir into hot syrup mixture until no streaks remain. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla. Let cool then drizzle over dairy-free ice cream.
Makes 2 cups
Article by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets.
The picture below is courtesy of the Food Network. This image is not dairy-free, but it gives you an idea of what the finished S'more sundae would look like. Just picture even better ice cream and marshmallows!