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!
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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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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
- 2 -13oz cans full fat coconut milk
- 20 Noor Dates (or about 10 Medjool dates)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped dairy free fudge chunks see Notes for swaps
- 1-2 tbsp dairy free chocolate sauce either homemade or store bought
- 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.
- 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!