Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Gosh, do I love this flavor combo.

The first time I had Mexican Hot Chocolate was at an adorable, quaint (now, sadly closed) vegan restaurant in Pittsburgh called Quiet Storm. My hubby and I had brunch there and, intrigued, I ordered their Mexican Hot Chocolate. It was the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold day. 

What makes hot chocolate Mexican, you might ask? It's a simple difference. You add a bit of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to your drink. You might say EWWW, but I will tell you: don't knock it till you try it. I even made some cookies with this inspiration.

When I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in August, they had Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream. I didn't try it, as I went for the Lavender Earl Grey (but I kinda wish I hadn't; it was just okay). So I decided to make my own -- and boy, am I glad I did!

Although my recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, I suggest you taste it and see how you like it. I put 1/2 teaspoon in mine...and it was more powerful than I expected. I would suggest 1/4 + another pinch for a good kick. But I have to admit, this spicy batch has really grown on me. You want to taste the kick, but you don't want your mouth on fire.

Or maybe you do?

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and boring-free.

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from Crazy Vegan Kitchen

3/4 c. cashews, raw
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 T. vanilla-infused bourbon (learn more about it here)
1 c. coconut cream + 1/2 c. coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours*
1/2 c. organic cane sugar
6 oz. dark chocolate
2 T. starch (corn or tapioca)

*This is roughly 2 cans of coconut milk -- I prefer A Taste of Thai brand, full-fat.

Open your cans of coconut milk first. If you've refrigerated them for about 24 hours, the fat (cream) should have separated from the liquid. Carefully scoop the cream out of the cans and measure it (1 cup). On a perfect day, you will have what's left in the picture on the right.

Combine the first 10 ingredients -- 11, if you count the coconut milk separately -- in your blender. (If you want, you can soak the cashews in the water for a few hours before starting this process. It could work better, especially if your blender lacks power.)

Once everything in the blender is completely smooth, pour the batter -- except for 1 cup -- into a medium-sized saucepan. Over medium-high heat, add the chocolate and sugar and stir often. In the mean time, add your starch to the remaining blender cup and combine until there are no chunks of starch left.

When the chocolate has melted and the sugar is well combined (about five to ten minutes), pour in the batter/starch mixture. This should considerably thicken the ice cream batter. Cook for a few minutes until the batter is thick and everything is combined well.

Pour the batter in a shallow dish and press plastic wrap against the batter -- do not leave gaps! It should be directly on the batter. That way, water will not cling to the top; you don't want any separation. I put my dish on a cooling rack (for cookies) and allowed it to cool to room temperature.

Once your batter is cooled and ready -- it will be thick! -- follow your ice cream maker's instructions.  (For mine, I have to chill my bowl for at least 15 hours in the freezer, etc.)  Turn it on and pour in the batter.  I churned mine for about 20 minutes; it should look like soft serve. 

Transfer it into a freezer-safe container and let it set for at least 4 hours.

I like to portion mine out into single-serve containers.  (When you have dairy-free ice cream, you have to let it sit out at least 20 minutes before scooping it. I don't always like letting the whole container sit out repeatedly.)  I bought OXO baby food containers and they are perfect for my ice cream!  That way, I can let them sit out for 20 minutes each and not worry about the ice cream getting weird :-)

Single serve containers are perfect for adults and kids!  The ice cream's at prime scooping time between 4-6 hours.