I deliberated whether I should call this recipe ‘Fermented Chocolate Ice Cream’ or ‘Chocolate Probiotic Ice Cream’.
I feared the fermented title might conjure images of sour, stinky food – not exactly how I want you to perceive my ice cream. However, with all of the healthwashing that surrounds food with added probiotics, I didn’t want anyone to scoff and assume I’m trying to pull one over on you.
You see, many companies tuck probiotics into their products to dupe health-minded consumers. I find this problematic for a few reasons:
- The quality of probiotics is important. Where are those probiotics coming from in supermarket yogurts, milks and breads, and what bacteria is destroyed in cooking and processing?
- The strains may not be impactful or beneficial to us. For more about this, check out the great article ‘There’s Sh%t in My Yogurt’.
- The potency of probiotics matters. In order to be effective, probiotics need to be live. If you’re dealing with a health issue, while a hundred million cells might seem like a lot, that’s actually a drop in the bucket in our digestive tract and not enough to make much of a difference.
By now, you’ve probably heard that probiotics are pretty good for us. They benefit our digestive health and our immune system, but there is also increasing evidence that probiotics play an essential role in brain health, too, affecting neurological conditions, mental health, and mood. This isn’t surprising, considering the special connection between our gut and our brain.
So in the end, since what I’ve created here is a true fermented product with probiotic benefit, I’m going with the title of fermented chocolate ice cream. I promise it’s not stinky or gross.
It’s been so frigging hot in Vancouver, especially in our home – on average, the inside temperature has been about 30 degrees for the past few weeks. Unpleasant, but awesome fermentation weather!
However, in the last couple of days we experienced much needed rain and a ‘cold snap’ of 22-25 degrees. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for my fermented ice cream by leaving it on the counter for a day. While I used a food dehydrator to accelerate the fermentation process, it’s not necessary if you don’t have one.
Fermentation will also depend on the potency of your probiotic. I used three probiotic capsules that contain 10 billion live cells each, totaling 30 billion. I’d aim for at least 20 billion to start with – and remember that the number of probiotics will multiply as the ice cream ferments.
I fermented the coconut milk for about 5 hours, until it had a slight fermentation ‘twang’. Fermentation preference is personal, so whether you use a dehydrator or leave your mixture on the counter, keep tasting to determine your magical fermentation spot.
The addition of cacao nibs or dairy-free chocolate chips is completely optional, but I opted. Because what goes better with chocolate ice cream than more kinds of chocolate? NOTHING.
- 3 ½ cups coconut milk
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 probiotic capsules (about 30 billion)
- 1 batch fermented coconut milk
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- ¼ - ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup cacao nibs, or mini dairy-free chocolate chips
- Pinch of salt
- Pour the coconut milk into a medium-sized bowl and add 2 tbsp coconut sugar. Open up the probiotic capsules and whisk the mixture well.
- Cover loosely with a tea towel and put in dehydrator at 90 degrees for 5-6 hours, or leave out on your counter for a day.
- Once the coconut milk has fermented to your liking, pour it into a blender with the cacao powder, ¼ cup coconut sugar, and salt. Taste and add more sweetness if needed.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge.
- Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions, or transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze.