When I was a kid, my mom used to make ice cream sandwiches every summer and I have some really great memories of wanting to savor each bite, but trying to hurry at the same time so the ice cream wouldn’t melt all over me. The ice cream sandwiches of my childhood were traditionally made (with flour, sugar, butter, eggs, Bryer’s ice cream and lots and lots of love :) and though so very delicious, not so very healthy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with indulging in that kind of treat every once in a while, but I wanted to see if I could make a healthier version of one of my favorite summertime desserts.
I’ve made these clean eating ones a couple of times but they never stick around long enough to be photographed for the blog. I finally had enough control over my cookie monster husband (and myself, let’s be honest) to photograph these so I could share them with you.
These are gooooood. No for real, they’re legit. The chocolate chip cookie is a recipe I picked up from Kelly at Primally Inspired that utilizes browned butter for richness and it’s so incredibly delicious that even my mother (who turns her nose up at any alternative healthy version of a traditional baked good) approved! She even complimented the cookie and had seconds. That right there, folks, is a testament to how good they really are.
And best of all, they’re free of grains and gluten (the recipe calls for almond flour instead of traditional all purpose flour), refined sugar (we use honey and maple syrup in place of white sugar), and could be dairy free (there’s butter, but you could use a butter substitute if you’re dairy sensitive or vegan).
The ice cream is made from coconut milk and just adds a touch of honey to sweeten and vanilla to flavor so it’s very simple to make and the subtle flavor pairs well with the knock out browned butter chocolate chip cookie. Put the two together and you have a quintessential summer treat that will make you feel good too. Click through for the recipe!
Chocolate Chip Cookies – Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan & Dairy Free Options Recipe adapted from Primally Inspired – thanks Kelly!
5 T butter (if dairy-free, use a butter substitute or double up the coconut oil)
5 T coconut oil, melted
3 T pure raw honey (if vegan, just double up the maple syrup)
3 T pure maple syrup
1 ½ T pure vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I like these because they don’t have dairy or soy lecithin which is in everything)
In a bowl (either your stand mixer or a regular bowl you plan on mixing by hand), combine coconut oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla and let it sit for a moment while you prepare the browned butter.
This next step of browning the butter is optional, but really adds depth and rich flavor to the cookies so I highly recommend it if you’re not avoiding dairy. Melt your butter over medium heat and continuously stir until butter is bubbling, you smell a rich aroma and you see a little bit of brown color on the bottom of the pan. Careful! The difference between browned butter and burned butter is a matter of seconds, so once you think you’ve got it, remove from heat completely.
Add browned butter to the rest of the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together almond flour, baking soda and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until dough is formed. This will take a minute or two…you may be tempted to add more liquid, but don’t. It comes together nicely after a bit of mixing. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until combined.
For best results, place dough in refrigerator or freezer for about 20-30 minutes. This helps form the cookies better on the cookie sheet so you can get an evenly round cookie. You don’t have to do this step, but I swear by it.
While the cookie dough is in the fridge, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When ready, take the dough out and roll about 1 T of dough between your hands and press gently on to an ungreased cookie sheet. You’ll want to press them down and not leave them in a ball for even cooking.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges just start to brown. The best trick to getting perfectly baked cookies is to take them out of the oven just before they look done and letting them finish and then cool on the cookie sheet. They’re still cooking when they come out of the oven so if you take them out too late and then let them cool on the cookie sheet, then they’ll be hard and crunchy. If you take them out when they look done and immediately try to transfer them to a cooling rack, then they crumble and break apart.
Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream
2 cans full fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least 1 day (this will force a separation of the cream on top and the watery milk below)
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped (Optional! Just add a touch more vanilla extract to taste if you don’t have vanilla beans)
Careful not to shake or turn over the cans of coconut milk, remove the lid and scoop out the cream of the coconut milk. The cream will be really thick and sitting right on top and will be about 2/3 of the can. Refrigeration helps separate the solid from the liquid.
Then add honey and vanilla, mix together, and add to ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just place in a shallow dish (like a bread pan or small casserole dish) and freeze, stirring every hour until it thickens.
Using just the coconut cream and not the watery milk produces very smooth, creamy, and soft ice cream. It’s incredible. And it doesn’t get very hard in the freezer either like most homemade ice creams do.
To assemble, tear off squares of wax parchment paper or aluminum foil and carefully wrap (don’t squish!) the sandwich cookies and place in freezer after each one is done. If the ice cream gets too soft, place it back in the freezer for a few minutes until it stiffens up again.