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dairy free ice cream recipes

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Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

August 1, 2022

Reminisce your summer vacation memories on your favorite horse-drawn carriage, bike riding island with your own, clean ingredient & dairy free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

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A most special vacation spot!

Around these parts, Mackinac Island is a pretty popular summer vacation destination, but I would imagine that if you don’t live near the Mid-West, perhaps this beautiful island in the middle of the Great Lakes of Michigan is unknown to you!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

Simple summer fun!

Mackinac Island is located to the Northeast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, surrounded by Lake Huron. This super special island is well known for it’s gorgeous, crystal clear fresh water lake, and you’ll also notice that there is no motorized vehicles on the island! Between biking and horse drawn carriages, tourists are able to explore the 8.2 miles around the island, as well as the beautiful hiking spots within the island too.

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream
Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream
Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream
Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

But that fudge though!

One of the things that Mackinac Island is most known for, are their many fudge shops! With super fun set-ups to allow you to watch the process start to finish in each fudge store, it makes for a fun experience, and the best treat to enjoy on your vacation! Our favorite fudge stop is Ryba’s since they have a dairy free fudge option, and the ingredients are are pretty clean for a store bought dessert (ie – not something we have everyday!). Just cocoa, powdered sugar, maple syrup, cane syrup, coconut oil, and cocoa butter – that’s it! Compared to a lot of the other fudge on the island, this one is the best option as far as ingredients go. We enjoyed a block of fudge while on vacation, and then wrapped up a block to bring home with the goal of making the famous “Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream” that you find in so many stores here in the Mid-West. I ended up only using half of the fudge for one back of ice cream – so you can get 2 batches out of one brick of fudge!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream
Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

A fun project for my teen

Earlier this spring, my oldest and I went on a trip with her middle school to Mackinac Island, and she had the wonderings about how we could possibly make the famous ice cream with the yummy fudge from the island in it. We had the conversation on the way home from the trip, and decided that when we went back for summer vacation, we would make it happen! Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream is basically a vanilla ice cream base with chunks of fudge and swirls of chocolate rippled throughout. Easy right? We made my staple date-sweetened vanilla ice cream base to start. If you are in the market for an ice cream maker for the family, the one pictured below is the same one I bought to make ice cream for Chloe’s 3rd birthday – which means it is 10 years old and still works like new!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

Now for the fudge!

Once the ice cream churned, we transferred it to my ice cream container, and sprinkled the fudge chunks. These fudge chunks were frozen after I chopped them which made them easier to stir in and keep separated. The fudge is soft at room temp, and I wanted them to keep their shape, so if that is your goal too, keep the fudge in the freezer while your ice cream churns. Again, I only used half of the brick of fudge for one batch, so you can freeze the chunks of fudge you don’t use for another time!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

And the chocolate ripple!

After we folded the fudge into the ice cream, we used a store bought organic, dairy free chocolate sauce to ribbon in too. If I didn’t have this sauce already in the fridge from a past birthday party, I would have made my own. Don’t go out and buy something that you don’t need to! Here is the store bought version that I used – our Meijer stores carry this, but you can take a peek at the ingredients here if you wish!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

And then…we wait!

You’ll have to have some patience for a good 4 hours for the ice cream to freeze up, but it is so worth the wait. We were blown away at how amazing the texture of the fudge was in the ice cream – not rock hard like a brick to chew, but soft and fudge like! And of course that ice cream base is not our favorite ice cream for nothing! I have a very “coconut detecting” husband that was surprised to hear that the ice cream base was made with coconut milk and dates – it is so creamy and delicious, and the other flavors mask the coconut flavor completely. It’s pretty enough to be on store shelves!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

What do I use if I don’t have access to Mackinac Island Fudge?

If you are thinking this ice cream is drool-worthy enough to make yourself, but don’t have a trip planned to Mackinac Island, you have options! I don’t know how it works in other cities, but in our area, we have our own little shops that make their own fudge, and any fudge will really do. If you want to go the extra mile and make your own fudge, the ingredients in this homemade dairy free fudge are fantastic, and similar to that on Mackinac Island itself! And in a pinch, I think the Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks or Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips would be just fine too!

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

Empowering our kids with kitchen know-how

So what did the teen think of her work? Well she was thrilled. I was completely hands off on this project, and that sense of accomplishing a project like this is super empowering. This kid truly doesn’t digest dairy very good – well, the processed kind of dairy. And so she truly has never gotten to experience Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream, and it is priceless to be able to do that for her. AND! To give her the tools to fuss with recipes to make them work for her dietary needs or to flip flop a processed food to make it with whole foods is a life skill that will be with her forever.

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Be sure that your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl has been chilling in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
  • Put the coconut milk, dates, vanilla extract, almond extract, and sea salt in your high-powered blender. Blend the ice cream mixture until smooth. I use the ice cream function of my high-powered blender, but you could use any setting as long as the mixture gets smooth. If you do not have a high-powered blender, a Magic Bullet style will help the dates get super smooth, or a food processor will with some extra time.
  • Pour the blended ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and process for 30- 40 minutes, or according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream mixture will be thin at first and within 20 minutes get very thick! Transfer your churned ice cream to a freezer safe container, and spread evenly.
  • Spoon the frozen fudge chunks over the top of the churned ice cream, and fold them in. Then, drizzle the chocolate sauce and very gently use your spoon to swirl it in. If you stir the sauce too much, you will end up with chocolate ice cream so just take your time and just do a little!
  • Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours before scooping. I like to set the ice cream container on the counter for about 15 minutes to let it soften before scooping.

Notes

  • If you are thinking this ice cream is drool-worthy enough to make yourself, but don’t have a trip planned to Mackinac Island to get fudge, you have options! I don’t know how it works in other cities, but in our area, we have our own little shops that make their own fudge, and any fudge will really do. If you want to go the extra mile and make your own fudge, the ingredients in this homemade dairy free fudge are fantastic, and similar to that on Mackinac Island itself! And in a pinch, I think the Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks or Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips would be just fine too!
Homemade Dairy Free Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream

More real food recipes you might like!

Healthy Kids and Teens Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened – No Added Sugar!

June 11, 2022

This strawberry banana ice cream is all of the banana split flavors you love in one scoop! And this dairy free ice cream is only sweetened with whole fruit – no added sugar needed!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

We. Made. It.

Just *look* at those faces, my friends! Those are the faces of the last day of school, and we are pumped about the next couple of months of beach sand between our toes, sunshine on our faces….and summer ice cream!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

A fun, fresh ice cream for summer!

We are *oh so close* to our Michigan strawberry season, but when I made ice cream last week, we weren’t quite there yet. So when the girls asked for strawberry ice cream for the first days of summer, I decided to combine the few strawberries I had with banana. The result is a sweet, creamy ice cream bursting with the flavors of a banana split! So fun!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

So let’s talk about sugar…

Last summer, I started playing around with the idea of date sweetened ice cream to avoid added sugar in our beloved ice cream on a hot day. My kids were shocked that the ice cream was only sweetened with fruit, and it became an almost weekly staple for a fun, frozen weekend treat. When we use whole fruit to sweeten where we can, we can avoid huge the dramatic blood sugar spikes that white sugar can cause. The fiber in the fruit slows the spike, and I’ve definitely noticed how much of a difference that makes – even compared to honey-sweetening. For this strawberry banana ice cream, adding a whole banana to the dates adds even more yummy, sweet flavor, and my kids were all over this!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Those beautiful red strawberries!

I can hardly wait for fresh summer strawberries, but for this batch, I used frozen. Both work great, so use what you have. I didn’t add any sugar to the strawberry sauce that gets swirled into the ice cream because the ice cream itself is plenty sweet. To get the strawberry sauce made, simply simmer with some lemon juice for about 10 minutes until it cooks down.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Homemade summer ice cream game changers!

Because let’s face it…the last thing you need is something fussy on your plate whilst managing the summer activities for the next 2 months! So let’s ditch the multi-step ice cream approach and toss it all the blender! This method makes an ice cream base in minutes, which makes the thought of making homemade ice cream much more tolerable, yes?!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

The ice cream maker investment

I am not a huge fan of multiple kitchen appliances on my counter. For the most part, I’m quite minimalistic when it comes to my kitchen. But my ice cream maker?! I’ll always recommend this one for any real food kitchen, because homemade ice cream is an easy swap for store bought – and way more cost effective than any healthier options in the store. I’ve had my ice cream maker for about 10 years, and it still works great. I’d say I have about the middle of the road when it comes to ice cream makers – there are some that are less expensive, and definitely those that cost more.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

The strawberry swirl method

Once your ice cream is churned, we need to get that pretty little strawberry ribbon in there! Just put half of your ice cream mixture into the bottom of your freezing container, and then spoon half of the strawberry sauce on top in little dots. Use a spoon to gently swirl the sauce, and then layer the rest of the ice cream on top. Spoon the rest of the strawberry sauce on the top, and swirl again. This ensures those yummy strawberries are in every bite!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Ice cream container options

You can freeze your ice cream in any empty container that you have! For years, I froze ice cream in empty coconut oil jugs. I liked using old loaf pans for easy scooping for a period of time too. If you make ice cream often, I think you would enjoy getting an ice cream container like these for easy storage. 

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Swaps and switches!

One question I think some might ask is how strong the banana flavor is. I would say with the 1 banana, the banana flavor is pleasantly mild. If you prefer a stronger banana flavor, adding another banana would definitely work. I would suggest making the ice cream base as is, and then tasting it once blended – you can always add another banana if you want. I also wanted to mention that if you want to use oat milk, cashew milk, macadamia nut milk, or almond milk, any of those will swap for the coconut milk fine. If you tolerate dairy, you can swap the non-dairy milk for whole milk or cream.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened – No Added Sugar!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Make the strawberry sauce first so that it can cool while the rest of the ice cream is being made. Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a small sauce pan and bring the heat to medium. Use a potato masher to squish the strawberries into a sauce as it cooks. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes to reduce down. Set the sauce aside to cool for later.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients into a high speed blender and puree until smooth.
  • Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions, until the ice cream is thick, and the consistency of soft serve ice cream. My ice cream maker takes about 30 minutes to do this.
  • When the ice cream is done churning, pour half of the ice cream mixture into your freezer container (see Notes for container suggestions). Spoon half of the strawberry sauce over the ice cream, and lightly swirl it so that it is distributed evenly. Then, pour the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container, and swirl the other half of the strawberry sauce into the ice cream
  • Freeze the ice cream at least 3 hours before serving. Let the ice cream container sit at room temp for at least 15 minutes to make scooping easier.

Notes

  • I would say that the banana flavor is pleasantly mild. If you prefer a stronger banana flavor, you could add another banana.
  • Want to serve in an ice cream cone? There are so many gluten free ice cream cone options these days – our regular grocery stores around here even carry them so do some looking around!
  • You can freeze your ice cream in any empty container that you have! For years, I froze ice cream in empty coconut oil jugs. I liked using old loaf pans for easy scooping for a period of time too. If you make ice cream often, I think you would enjoy getting an ice cream container like these for easy storage. 
Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

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