We grew up with the occasional ice cream bar from a package – those ones with the slightly sticky chocolate outside and vanilla filling. These vegan and gluten free ice cream sandwiches are a healthy-ish spin on those, with a date sweetened sandwich layer and coconut cashew raspberry swirl filling.
A little bit higher in protein and fibre, with the almond flour and cashews, you should feel pretty good after eating one of these ice cream bars! No sugar headaches, thanks. Definitely a dessert but I think they work if you want a breakfast dessert, too.
They’re also completely grain-free, if that’s important to you, with coconut flour adding a bit of bulk. I think these can be paleo friendly depending on the type of nut or seed butter you use.
- Almond Flour: Bob’s Red Mill super fine natural almond flour. This adds richness and forms the base of the brownie layer.
- Cocoa: either baking cocoa or raw cacao, but not drinking chocolate.
- Coconut Flour: to give the right texture – other flours can be used, see substitutions below.
- Sea Salt: just a hint in the brownie layer.
- Dates: softened in hot water if necessary. I use deglet noor, a smaller variety that’s less expensive (measure by weight if using another type).
- Nut or Seed Butter: peanut butter makes for a nice combination with the raspberries, but tahini, sunflower seed butter, hazelnut butter, or whatever you like best can be used.
- Coconut Oil: again, this improves the texture of the brownie, and makes for a better flavour overall. Use refined if preferred.
- Cashews: raw, unsalted cashews.
- Coconut Cream: scooped from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, no need to buy a specific coconut cream.
- Maple Syrup: or honey if the bars don’t need to be fully vegan. Honey makes for a softer ice cream layer.
- Vanilla: for flavour and to soften the ice cream.
- Raspberries: I made my own raspberry jam (our autumn fruiting raspberries are ready) by simmering until thickened with a drizzle of honey.
Step by Step
Tips and Notes
These are easy to cut and serve after 3-4 hours in the freezer. They won’t be frozen solid yet, but the ice cream doesn’t melt as rapidly as vegan ice cream usually does.
My tin is 20x20cm (8 in.). A larger, smaller, or differently shaped container can be used. Keeping it approximately the same size will have the best ice cream to brownie ratio.
A sharp knife will make for nicer looking ice cream sandwiches, but this isn’t hugely important. If the bars are frozen solid, dip the knife in hot water each time before slicing.
Using jam instead of simply mashing the raspberries is due to the frozen texture. Cooking the berries reduces the water content, which in turn reduces the iciness after freezing.
If you want to use vanilla powder in place of extract, add a couple teaspoons of vodka to the ice cream. This will ensure a nice soft filling even when frozen solid (my vanilla extract is just beans in a bottle of vodka).
To shorten the soaking time for the cashews, use very hot or even boiling water. This can reduce the time needed to an hour or two.
The filling layer is adapted from my friend Natalie at Feasting on Fruit.
Blending Cashew Cream
You don’t need a high end, super powered blender for this recipe (I don’t have one). I do find that my immersion blender makes a creamier filling than the food processor, but my processor is also really cheap.
If possible, either use a higher wattage immersion blender, or a standing blender. A food processor can work well but it needs to be mixed for a longer time. In any case, pretty much anything with a blade can mix the cashew cream, it just might need some time.
Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches Video
If you don’t want to make your own ice cream, just use store bought! Thaw it for about ten minutes before scooping out and spreading over the bottom brownie layer, top with the second brownie, freeze, and slice as usual.
As always, honey can be substituted for maple syrup. I use more honey these days because it’s local rather than imported from across the Atlantic. Date or coconut syrup would also work.
Hazelnut flour makes a good substitution for almond flour. For a nut-free option, you could try blending sunflower or other seeds, but I think it might be too bitter.
If you want to use an alternative to coconut flour, use double the amount, as coconut flour is twice as absorbent as most other flours. Oat flour is a good option. Don’t use a wheat-based flour unless you cook it beforehand, as it can’t be consumed raw.
If you don’t have or don’t like raspberries, use a different fruit. Blackberries, strawberries, blueberries (any berries), and peaches or other stone fruits are all great. Store-bought jam can be used.
Baking cocoa and raw cacao can be used interchangeably for this recipe. The flavour will change very slightly but it’s barely noticeable.
More No-Bake Treats
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Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches
Raspberry Swirl Cashew Ice Cream
- 300 grams raw, unsalted cashews
- 130 grams coconut cream (scooped from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
- 100 grams maple syrup or honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
- 150 grams raspberries OR 100 grams (~1/2 cup) raspberry jam**
- Start by soaking the cashews. If using very hot water, soak 1-2 hours. With cool water, soak for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. The cashews should be fully soaked before proceeding with the other steps.
- Line a 20cm (8 in.) square tin with parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the brownie layer, add the dates, nut butter, coconut oil, coconut milk, and vanilla to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
- Blend until a very smooth paste forms and it looks like date caramel.
- Add the almond flour, cocoa powder, coconut flour, and salt to the food processor. Blend again until fully incorporated and a ball of dough forms.
- Remove the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Press into discs, then place each between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll to about 5mm (1/5 in.) thick.
- Remove the top layer of parchment paper and trim the brownie pieces to fit your tin. Place the bottom layer into the prepared tin and freeze while preparing the ice cream. Set the top layer aside for now.
- Once the cashews have soaked, make the ice cream filling. Prepare the jam (see notes).
- Add the cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, and vanilla to a blender, high-speed food processor, or tall container (for immersion blender).
- Blend until very smooth and no cashew pieces remain. Depending on your mixer, this could take several minutes.
- Spoon the cashew ice cream over the frozen brownie base layer and spread evenly. Top with the raspberry jam and swirl together.
- Add the second brownie layer over the filling, gently pressing to ensure good contact.
- Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Once frozen, cut into bars and serve. Leftover bars can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.