Vegan chunky monkey ice cream - creamy vegan banana ice cream with chocolate chunks and walnuts. This Ben & Jerry's copycat is easy to make and so delicious!
Since coming up with the rich and creamy ice cream base that I used to make my rich and creamy vegan chocolate ice cream; I've been wanting to use it to make loads of different ice cream flavours.
My vegan peanut butter and cookies ice cream was a delicious take on a Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavour, and this amazing vegan chunky monkey ice cream is another take on one of their popular flavours - Chunky Monkey.
It consists of a creamy banana flavoured ice cream base, with plenty of chocolate chunks and pieces of walnut (or pecan). It is a great way of using up a couple of browned bananas if you don't feel like baking banana bread.
Although it contains banana however, this is absolutely not a 'nice cream' - the kind of healthy ice cream that is made simply by blending chunks of frozen banana. This is a rich and creamy, indulgent, 'proper' ice cream.
Like my chocolate ice cream, the base is made using part blended cashews and part full fat tinned coconut milk. This gives such a smooth and creamy texture and the ice cream has no hint of iciness. I also can’t taste the coconut at all so if you’re not a fan of coconut don’t worry!
Lets Break Down The Ingredients:
Cashews: Soaked and blended with non-dairy milk, cashews make a delicious, rich cream which is perfect for making a smooth and creamy ice cream.
Coconut milk: Full fat tinned coconut milk adds extra creaminess – no light or drinking varieties please!
Xanthan Gum: Pretty much all commercial ice creams contain some sort of stabiliser such as guar gum. This helps to stop the ingredients from separating and keeps the ice cream smooth and creamy. Because guar gum is not so easy to get hold of, I used xanthan gum which is sold in most supermarkets and does the same job. You can omit it if you can’t get hold of it.
Bananas: A couple of very ripe bananas provide lots of banana flavour, without making the ice cream icy.
Salt: A little bit of salt really helps to balance the sweetness.
Vanilla Extract: A dash of vanilla helps to enhance the flavour.
Caster Sugar: Caster/superfine sugar dissolves easily but you can swap it for another type of sugar if you prefer. I haven’t tested using maple syrup/agave so I am not sure how swapping for a liquid sweetener would affect the texture. Ice cream needs a certain amount of sugar for the best texture; reducing it could result in a more icy ice cream.
Cornflour/Cornstarch: Most non-vegan ice creams are made using a custard base that is thickened with egg yolks, though the famous Jeni’s ice cream is thickened with cornflour instead, meaning that the ice cream is creamy but the flavour isn’t overpowered by eggyness. I thickened my ice cream with cornflour which makes it extra thick and creamy, but if you want less of a pudding-like texture then you can omit it.
Chocolate Chunks and Walnuts: I like lots of 'bits' in my ice cream so added plenty of chopped dark chocolate and walnuts. You could also use pecans instead, or just omit the mix-ins for plain banana ice cream.
How To Make Vegan Chunky Monkey Ice Cream:
(For ingredients and full instructions see the recipe card below)
*For the best results make sure that you follow the recipe closely. As always, I highly recommend using the gram measurements (with a digital scale), rather than the cup conversions. Cup measurements are simply not accurate enough for baking and I cannot guarantee the best results if you use them.*
Cover the cashews in boiling water and set aside to soak for at least half an hour then drain. (You can also soak them in cold water overnight instead).
Place the soaked cashews in a blender along with 250ml of non-dairy milk (I used soy) and blend until very smooth. (They are pictured with water below as I nabbed the image from a previous recipe; use milk for this one).
Add the full fat coconut milk, xanthan gum, bananas, sugar, cornflour, salt and vanilla extract and continue to blend until the mixture is completely smooth. There should be no hint of grittiness if you rub some of the mixture between your fingers – you don’t want lumpy ice cream.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and place it over a low heat. Whisk until it comes up to the boil and thickens then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.
Don’t let it boil for more than a minute; boiling cornflour for too long can cause it to break down and become runny again.
You can skip this step if you are not adding cornflour/cornstarch.
Cover with greaseproof paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming then place in the fridge until completely cold. (I leave it in there overnight).
Give the chilled ice cream base a good whisk then churn it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. (See below for instructions on how to churn it without an ice cream maker).
Once it has reached soft serve consistency, mix through the chopped chocolate and walnuts and transfer it to a container. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up before serving.
Once the ice cream is fully frozen it will be quite firm; let it sit out at room temperature for a bit before scooping.
What If I Don’t Own An Ice Cream Maker?:
If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can still make this vegan chunky monkey ice cream, it just takes a bit more work.
Once the base is chilled, pour it into a large freezerproof container and pop it in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, remove it from the freezer and give it a quick whisk with an electric mixer to break up any ice crystals then return it to the freezer.
Repeat this until it reaches soft-serve consistency then stir through the chopped chocolate and walnuts.
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Vegan Chunky Monkey Ice Cream (banana ice cream with chocolate and walnuts)
- 120 g (¾ cup) cashews
- 250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
- 400 ml (14 oz) full fat coconut milk (tinned, NOT the drinking variety)
- 160 g (¾ cup + 1 Tbsp) caster sugar
- 200 g (2 medium) very ripe banana
- ⅛ tsp xanthan gum (optional)
- 1 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)* optional
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate chopped
- 80 g (2.75 oz) walnuts (or pecans) broken into pieces
- Cover the cashews in boiling water and set aside to soak for at least half an hour then drain. (You can also soak them in cold water overnight instead).
- Place the soaked cashews in a blender along with the 250ml of milk and blend until very smooth.
- Add the full fat coconut milk, sugar, bananas, xanthan gum, cornflour, vanilla extract and salt and continue to blend until the mixture is completely smooth. There should be no hint of grittiness if you rub some of the mixture between your fingers.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and place it over a low heat. Whisk until it comes up to the boil and thickens then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Don't let it boil for more than a minute. Skip this step if you did not add cornflour/cornstarch.
- Cover with greaseproof paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming then place in the fridge until completely cold. (I leave it in there overnight).
- Give the chilled ice cream base a good whisk then churn it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. (See above for instructions on how to churn it without an ice cream maker).
- Once it has reached soft serve consistency, mix through the chopped chocolate and walnuts and transfer it to a container. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up before serving.Once the ice cream is fully frozen it will be quite firm; let it sit out at room temperature for a bit before scooping.