Helloooooooooo, ninjas! It is SO good to be back and cooking again after couch-surfing and not having my own kitchen for so long! I finally moved myself to Philadelphia, have lovely new ninja-kitchen headquarters, and Lucy, Skye and I are loving our new home. I hope all of you are ready for some delicous new recipes because I've been itching to post some!
So today is July 4th, so happy Independence Day to all of my American ninjas, and happy random-monday-in-July to all of my lovely ninjas abroad. Whether you're watching fireworks and happily BBQing today, or just schlepping through a day at work, here's a recipe for some easy, chilly ice cream treats to chase away the sweltering summer heat.
This recipe would be great to make with little ninjas, as it requires no baking, limited measuring (most things you can "eyeball") and lots of sticky, messy working with your hands. This recipe is actually adapted from a recipe that was designed for kids, with some ingredients changed for the sake of vegan-ness, health, and making the final product more appealing to both little and grown-up ninja palates. These are great little treats, especially if you are like me and tend to eat your ice cream straight from the pint (while watching reruns of girly tv dramas and drooling over hot men if you're me - something about chocolate ice cream and Patrick Dempsey is so very "yum" *hangs head in shame*), as they kind of force you into having some portion control. Just don't eat the whole pan of them in one sitting....or, fuckit do it anyway! No judgement here. We've all done it. Anyway, regardless of how you eat them, I hope you enjoy these cute little treats!
Easy Ice-Cream "Cupcakes"
1/2 cup raw agave nectar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon creamy natural peanut butter
3 cups flake cereal
1 quart vanilla or chocolate vegan ice cream
3 Tablespoons chopped pecans or hazlenuts
1/2 teaspoon non-dairy butter, melted
3 oz premium dark chocolate
cooking spray or non-dairy butter for the pan
Spray a 12 muffin/cupcake pan with cooking spray or lightly butter the cups with a little non-dairy butter on a paper towel. In a medium bowl, mix together the agave nectar and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until combined. Mix in the cereal, crushing the flakes as you mix until all the flakes are evenly coated. Press the cereal firmly into the bottoms of the muffin cups with the back of a spoon or your fingers.
Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the ice cream on top of the flake mixture in each of the muffin cups, pressing down with a spoon as you go. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter on top of the ice cream in each cup, and top with 2 more Tablespoons of ice cream, smoothing to cover the peanut butter. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Place in freezer while you make the chocolate glaze.
Break up your chocolate bar and place in a small bowl with the non-dairy butter and remaining 1 Tablespoon peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second increments until chocolate is mostly melted with some lumps, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir the mixture until the remaining lumps are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and drizzle the chocolate mixture over each cup. Freeze overnight until firm.
To serve, run a knife or spoon gently around each cup to loosen the cereal. Enjoy with lots of wet paper towels handy for sticky fingers!
Tips and Tricks:
1. Your chocolate: use premium dark chocolate for the best taste - the slight bitterness of the very dark chocolate contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the ice cream. I used a dark chocolate bar that was 85% cocoa:
but you are welcome to use whatever sort of dark, vegan-friendly chocolate you like. Just remember to read labels - REAL dark chocolate does NOT contain milk or milk-products, but many chocolate manufacturers put milk into "dark" chocolate nowadays in an effort to pander to watered-down American palates. You're going to have to fork out the dough for a premium chocolate bar if you want to avoid milk, most likely. It's worth it though; trust me.
2. Raw agave nectar? Wtf??? - This is just what I used as a sweetener/sticky-fier because the original recipe called for corn syrup (dude....ew) and agave is far healthier, as it is a minimally processed and low-glycemic sweetener option. You could also use pure maple syrup or possibly brown rice syrup here, but I chose agave over maple to avoid imparting a maple flavor to the finished product. Agave is pretty innocuous flavor-wise and it melds with most ingredients well. I'd like to try this with brown rice syrup, and that was honestly my original intention, but the store where I was shopping didn't have it and I didn't feel like going all the way to Whole Foods. So yeah, agave was used partly due to laziness as well. Feel free to use whatever sweetener you like!
3. Chocolate? Or vanilla? Frankly I'd go with vanilla ice cream if you have the choice here, because I used chocolate and felt that it was too overpowering, but again, the store didn't have vanilla in quart size and I was too lazy to go somewhere that did. I used So Delicious brand ice cream, by the way, which is hands-down the BEST vegan ice cream I've ever eaten. You can't tell the difference at all from regular ice cream, and this is coming from a true ice cream hound....in my pre-vegan, 20 lbs overweight phase I was basically a slave to Ben and Jerry. So Delicious isn't much more expensive than non-vegan premium dairy ice cream is, and they donate a portion of their proceeds to saving sea turtles. Win. If you can make your own vegan ice cream, go for it (I would have made my own but the ice cream maker I used to use belonged to Andy and so still lives in NJ *tear*) but if you've gotta buy some, So Delicious is the way to go. By the way, 1 quart of ice cream will leave you with some extra for eating *puts on Grey's Anatomy and pulls out spoon* so enjoy that as well :)
4. Aw, nuts....I used hazlenuts here, but you can use any kind of chopped nut you like - peanuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamias....whatever, go nuts (hehe). Honestly, I think the dark chocolate overpowers most of the actual flavor of the nuts, so anything that goes *crunch* would work brilliantly.
5. Cereal - you can use any flake cereal here, but in the interest of attempting to offset the sugar-laden calorie-fest that is So Delicious ice cream, I used a whole grain, organic flax flake. Again, the actual flavor of the flakes is going to be overpowered by everything else, so you're just looking for a pleasant crunch. I figure, why not slip in some omega-3s and whole grains if I can? Just try to get a cereal that doesn't have a lot of sugar added to the flakes because it could make the finished product too sweet. Agave is low-glycemic but it is very sweet (not to mention the ice cream you've got going on there) so you don't really need any more sugar.
6. Peanut butter - for fuck's sake (sorry for the f-bomb but I'm pretty adamant about this) use natural peanut butter. Natural PB is readily available in every major grocery store nowadays - most stores even have their own generic "store brand" of natural peanut butter - so there's no excuse for getting trans-fat, sugar, and chemical-laden "peanut spread" anymore. Peanuts are absolutely delicious on their own and they don't need any of that other crap mixed in. If you're really too lazy to deal with the oil-separation that occurs in natural PB, there are some brands that make a "no-stir" natural option (I believe JIF makes one), although I generally don't recommend these because they have added palm oil (which has some negative health and environmental impact, although not nearly has bad as hydrogenated oils) and sugar. A great trick to avoid the oil goo on top of natural PB is to store the jar upside down. The oil will rise to the top - which is really the bottom - so stirring it in is so much easier. You can even make your own "reduced fat" peanut butter by skimming the oil off the top when you first open the jar, which solves your oil problem as well. Basically, do what you gotta do as far as peanut butter, but in this ninja's opinion, the better taste and health benefits of the natural stuff far outweigh the annoyance of stirring some oil once in a while.
So that's that...hope you enjoyed the first Fur Ninja recipe in almost five months! I'd like to try this recipe again with home-made, stevia-sweetened fruit ice cream with omega-3 and protein-rich walnuts and inflammation-reducing berries to make a low-sugar, high-protein, and nutrient-rich version to use as a post-workout snack, so look for that in the future once I can afford to buy my own ice cream maker! I've also got lots more recipes coming - including tequila-marinated grilled tofu (to try out my new grill pan!) and much, much more. Also, hope you're loving the new, less-crappy pictures, courtesy of my spiffy new digital camera.
Until next time, much love from me, Lucy, and Skye!
<3 The Fur Ninja