Vanilla Cashew Ice Cream Base
4 oz cashews, raw unsalted
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup agave syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise, seeds scraped) or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, for texture)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (or any other add-ins you would like)
2 different sized large Ziploc bags (1 small enough to fit inside the other)
3-6 cups of ice
1/4-1/2 cup rock, kosher, or table salt
If you have the time, soak the cashews in the water overnight. Alternately, you can simmer the cashews in the water for 15 minutes, cool slightly. Either way, reserve liquid. I think in this case, I prefer the simmer method. The warmth from the cashew water helps dissolve the raw sugar.
Place cashews, water, sugar, agave, coconut oil, salt, vanilla bean seeds, and xanthan gum in a blender or food processor. Blend on high until completely smooth. I use my Vitamix and it makes the cashew base super creamy.
If you do happen to have an electric powered ice cream machine, you can use this base and follow manufacturers directions at this point. If not...
Pour ice cream base into the smaller of the two Ziploc bags. I could only fit about half of the ice cream base into my smaller bag so I did this in two batches. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal it tightly and securely. Place this bag inside the larger zip lock bag. Fill the larger bag with enough ice to surround the smaller bag, with a little bit of room for movement. Sprinkle the ice with the salt and seal the bag.
*The salt actually lowers the melting point of ice, essentially allowing ice to be even colder for longer. Ice cream needs to be surrounded by temperatures lower than 32 degrees F in order to freeze. When you add salt to the ice, the melting point becomes lower than 0 degrees F. Science!!!
Now its time to shake. A lot.
I recommend a round of your current favorite show on Netflix. It helps pass the time while you shake away. This definitely takes a bit of elbow grease and it is nice to have another person to take turns with. My sister and I even tossed it back and forth like a weird game of catch. The bag gets cold. Like REALLY cold. And there is a lot of condensation. Wrap the whole thing in 2 or 3 towels. Gloves make this even easier. But you basically want to keep it moving until the mixture becomes mostly solid. The movement inhibits the formation of ice crystals.
Ice crystals=grainy ice cream.
No ice crystals=creamy smooth deliciousness.
This will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Once it reaches the desired consistency, remove smaller bag from ice and rinse off the salt water. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. You can either leave it right in the Ziploc bag or transfer to an airtight freezer safe container. Place into the freezer for at least an hour to finish the freezing process.