Canadian readers will probably be familiar with President’s Choice Candy Cane ice cream. It came out in 1995 and was immediately my favourite ice cream ever. Rich vanilla ice cream with chunks of candy cane and ribbons of hard chocolate that crackled when you scooped some out. Our whole family looked forward to eating it for dessert in December. It underwent a redesign about five years ago and hasn’t been the same since – now the ice cream is minty, there are red and green globs of candy instead of broken candy canes, and the ice cream itself isn’t as rich. I don’t have a picture of the old version, but here’s what it looks like now:
I have tweaked the recipe over the past two years until it is as creamy and crackly as I remember. It is with pride that I’m sharing it with you now… hopefully it will be a Christmas favourite with your family, too!
Christmas Crackle Ice Cream
The vanilla base is modified from the French Vanilla ice cream in Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan a la Mode, but the rest of the ideas are my own. Note that this recipe makes a large batch of ice cream – lots to share!
- 5 1/2 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder (for whiter ice cream, use half custard powder and half corn starch)
- 1 cup soy milk or almond milk
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 cups almond milk
- pinch salt
- 1 can gold (high-fat) coconut milk, left in a cool place to separate
- 3/4 tsp vanilla paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp vodka
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, or shortening
- 6 Tbsp chocolate chips
- 3/4 to 1 cup of crushed green and red candy canes (red only is fine, the addition of green is just prettier to me)
- Whisk the custard powder and 1 cup of milk in a saucepan until thoroughly dissolved.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Slowly warm the mixture on low to medium heat, whisking the whole time.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, bring heat to medium.
- Add in remaining almond milk and salt.
- Stir until the mixture thickens.
- Meanwhile, scoop out fatty portion of coconut milk (should be 1 1/4 to 1 2/3 cups) and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.
- Once the mixture on the stove is the consistency of a light pudding, take off the heat.
- Stir in coconut milk and vanilla.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Add in vodka.
- Cool for at least two hours, stirring occasionally to break up the “skin” that forms. If you forget to stir, just whiz the mixture for a few seconds with an immersion blender before freezing.
- Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze until the ice cream is quite stiff.
- Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate chips and coconut oil
- Add the crushed candy canes and mix in the ice cream maker for only about one minute. Adding the candy canes too early will allow them to bleed – you’ll get grey ice cream!
- Scoop out about half a cup of ice cream, drizzle melted chocolate in thin strings on top. Aim for thin layers!
- Repeat until all of the ice cream is used up. You’ll have a little chocolate left over.
- Freeze for at least two hours.
Enjoy! Merry Christmas!