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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Vegan Nice Cream
Satisfy your summer sweet tooth with this chocolate peanut butter banana nice cream! Never heard of nice cream? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a vegan version of ice cream! This nice cream recipe mimics Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey® but uses a creamy cashew base instead of dairy cream. Chocolate and peanut-butter covered pretzels and just a hint of banana make this nice cream recipe truly delicious!
The Perfect Vegan Nice Cream Base
I’ve been working on a vegan nice cream recipe for quite some time. If you’ve done some research, I’m sure you’ve come across a few different methods for making vegan ice cream. Some recipes use blended frozen bananas as their base, while others rely on full fat, unsweetened coconut milk. Honestly, I’m a fan of both methods, but I do find there is a time and place for both banana and coconut flavors. Just check out my Lime in the Coconut Nice Cream Recipe.
Using Frozen Bananas to Make Your Vegan Nice Cream
You might be thinking: if you’re using Chunky Monkey as inspiration, why not use frozen bananas. If you are, great minds think alike. I did try that. It’s admittedly a healthy way to get your ice cream fix, but I found the banana flavoring too powerful in this case. I served this version at a dinner party as well and the consensus was the same.
What About Coconut Milk?
Like frozen bananas, full-fat canned coconut milk does give nice cream its nice, er… creamy texture (must buy a thesaurus) but also like bananas it has a strong flavor. In the end, I just didn’t like the heavy coconut flavor with the salted peanut butter. Which left me to thinking… what has a heavy, creamy texture without an overwhelming flavor?
Cashew Cream as a Nice Cream Base
Then it dawned on me: why not try using cashew cream to make vegan ice cream? Cashews are a vegan darling (learn more about vegan cooking with cashews here). If you follow me, you know I use cashew cream in a variety of recipes (vegan caramel sauce*, vegan alfredo sauce, vegan enchiladas and vegan quiche* to name a few). It plays wonderfully with other flavors. For example: if you add garlic, tomato paste, brown mustard and jalapeno to cashew cream you’ll get a spicy nacho cheese dip for your homemade soft pretzels. On the other hand, some sugar and a touch of salt makes for a very nice…nice cream!
Cashew Cream…But Not Too Much!
The first time I experimented with using cashew cream in my vegan ice cream I thought it was a success. It was both rich and creamy. However, my kids (and my kids’ friends) thought otherwise. The looks of disappointment! So, I went back to the drawing board. After all, if you can’t please kids with ice cream, where are you?
After a few tries, I learned that making cashew cream with a plant-based milk instead of water helped to soften the cashew flavor without limiting the overall creaminess of the finished product. I chose oat milk for its natural sweetness and mild flavor. For this recipe, I used Pacific Foods® Organic Oat Vanilla milk.
Making Vegan Nice Cream Flavors
This cashew cream/oat milk flavored base leaves the door wide open to experiment with vegan ice cream flavors. It adapts well to almost anything! It just so happens though, that Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey® is one of my old favorites. To mimic the flavors of my youth, I added ½ a frozen banana to my cashew cream blend, along with some dairy-free chocolate and peanut-butter covered pretzels.
To Churn or Not to Churn?
I’ll be honest, vegan ice cream is better when it’s made in an ice cream maker. Alas, these ever-popular wedding registry items take up a lot of space. And you have to remember to freeze the bowl well before a nice cream craving starts! If you happen to have one, you won’t regret dragging it off the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet for this vegan ice cream recipe. If you don’t, don’t fret. You can still get your fix. Check the recipe notes for how to make vegan ice cream without an ice cream maker.
*Denotes a recipe in my forthcoming 5-Ingredient Vegan Cookbook (look for it Spring 2021!)
What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Vegan Nice Cream Recipe Easier?
Want to know what tools and resources I keep on hand to make my vegan cooking even easier? Here’s a short list of what helped me create this blog post and recipe. For the complete list, visit my Shop where you can find the kitchen gadgets I like as well as a list of books that I recommend.
Before I get into cooking, I want to share these napkins. I found these on Etsy over a year ago and, not only do I LOVE them, I buy them as gifts for nearly everyone I know.
These napkins are upcycled and reusable, allowing you to not only avoid throwing away paper products but to also reuse fabrics – a small but significant way to cut back on water, dyes and chemicals used in the production process.
These napkins are so darling (they come in lots of different patterns and colors) and they’re machine washable. I just throw them in with whatever load of laundry I’m doing. They don’t wrinkle easily, so a quick fold will have them back on your table doing what they were meant to do… be reused!
I know, I know! Not another kitchen gadget. But hey, I’m not going to tell you to not buy an ice cream maker! Honestly, vegan ice cream (also known as nice cream) is easier to make and serve with an ice cream maker. I have an older version of this one and, despite it seeming like a frivolous purchase, I actually pull it often quite often in the summertime.
How darling are these sundae cups? You need them for nostalgia if for no other reason! And what a lovely way to showcase your homemade vegan ice cream!
Want those beautiful curls of ice cream? You need a good ice cream scoop! This simple, no frills ice cream scoop is both economical and efficient. Not to mention – ice cream scoops can pull double duty! I use mine all the time for scooping out just the right amount of cookie dough to make treats like my Blueberry Breakfast Cookies!*
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Nice Cream
Satisfy your summer sweet tooth with this chocolate peanut butter banana nice cream! Never heard of nice cream? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a vegan version of ice cream! This nice cream recipe mimics Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey® but uses a creamy cashew base instead of heavy cream. Chocolate and peanut-butter covered pretzels and just a hint of banana make this nice cream recipe truly delicious!
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 3/4 cup oat milk I like Pacific Foods® Organic Oat Vanilla milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 banana
- 1/2 cup chocolate covered pretzels
- 1/2 cup peanut butter pretzels
Soak the cashews in just-boiled water for 30 minutes.
While the cashews are soaking, roughly chop the chocolate and peanut butter covered pretzels. Store in the freezer until ready for use.
Drain and rinse the cashews. Combine the cashews with the oat milk in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add the sugar, salt and banana and blend again.
Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The nice cream should begin to take on a thick, creamy consistency around 30 minutes. When it does, add the pretzels (reserving a small amount of each kind to use as a final topping).
When the nice cream is firm, serve it immediately topping with bits of pretzel.
- Nice cream is best made in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, don’t fret! You can still enjoy this tasty treat. Just pour the mixture from your blender into a covered, freezer-safe container. Stir in the pretzels and freeze. You can either choose to serve the nice cream when it’s just shy of firm or allow it to freeze completely and slightly defrost before serving.
- My chosen brand of oat milk is slightly sweet, so I only add 1/3 cup of sugar to this recipe. You may need to modify this recipe depending on the sweetness of your selected plant-based milk.
About Herbivore’s Kitchen
Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road.