pink peppercorn almond ice milk

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It is officially ice cream season in my house. Not that we don’t eat ice cream year round but any weather over 65º calls for an excuse for daily consumption of it. So I’ve dusted off the ice cream maker and started playing around with different recipes. I prefer an ice cream that’s not too creamy or overly sweet. I also try to incorporate a bitter or savory quality to make things more interesting.  Which a lot of the times is not welcomed by my brood of ice cream traditionalists.

There was a sorbet company in Oakland who closed their shop a few years back but had the most amazing pink peppercorn almond sorbet. It was refreshing and interesting and rich and nutty and sweet all at the same time. Thinking it may be nice to mix a little dairy free options into our ice cream diet I thought I’d try recreating the recipe.

I’m a big fan of ice milks. I love how refreshing yet satisfying they are so I decided to start there with the basis of the recipe. The base of this ice milk is going to be almond milk which I prefer to make myself. It’s ridiculously easy and well worth the effort. Plus, there aren’t a lot of commercial almond milks on the market that I’ve found compare to the incredibly creamy milky flavor you get from home made. Essentially you just soak almonds in water (from 1-2 days depending on how creamy you want it) then drain, blend with fresh water and strain out the almond meal. It only lasts in the fridge for a couple of days so you want to make only as much as you will use but I’m not bothered since the process only takes a few minutes. If you want to bypass this step, the one brand I have found that closely resembles home made is from The New Barn which you can find at Whole Foods.

The rest of the recipe is simple, a little sugar, a little vanilla and some pink peppercorns to give it a subtle spicy fruitiness. I really love pink peppercorns. They have a more delicate, well rounded heat than black peppercorns and a dried berry like flavor that make them so versatile. they are very fragile and their papery skins fall right off when gently crushed. I like to use the skins as a garnish to give added, color and a little crunch.

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Pink Peppercorn Almond Ice Milk

makes 1 pint

A general ratio when making almond milk is 1 cup almonds to 2 cups water which gives you the equivalent creaminess to 2% milk. You can adjust the ratio to fit your taste. For this recipe I want to make the milk extra creamy. Also, this recipe does call for an ice cream maker, blender and cheese cloth.

  • 2 cups organic raw almonds (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 1 Tablespoon pink peppercorns
  • pinch of salt

Put almonds in a pitcher or glass jar and cover with water by at least an inch. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Drain the almonds and rinse well. Combine almonds and 2 cups water in a blender and blend on high for 2 minutes. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth gathering it around the almond meal and twisting close. Squeeze and press the ball with clean hands to extract as much almond milk as possible. The leftover almond meal is amazing to add to smoothies, baked goods or oatmeal.

Gently crush the pink peppercorns with the back of a knife or in a mortar & pestle. They don’t need to be too fine, just enough to break them up a little. Reserve some of the papery pink skins to use as a garnish. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. In a saucepan, combine the almond milk, sugar, salt, peppercorns and vanilla seeds & pod and heat to a gentle simmer over medium heat just to melt the sugar. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

Once chilled, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and transfer to the ice cream maker. Process according to the machine’s instructions. Once finished, garnish with the peppercorn skins and enjoy immediately! You can store leftovers in a tupperware in the freezer. Cover with surface directly with plastic rap to avoid ice crystals developing. The ice milk will get pretty hard once frozen so I usually let it set out for a few minutes before scooping the leftovers.

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