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 Raspberry Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

{Vegan, Gluten-Free, Raw-ish, Naturally Sweetened}

Gluten-free raspberry ice cream sandwiches

For the brownies:

1 1/4 cups (5.5 ounces / 155 grams) nuts (We use equal parts raw almonds and pecans)

1/4 cup+ 2 tablespoons (1.25 ounces / 35 grams) raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (4.5 ounces / 130 grams) dates, pitted (covered with boiling water and soaked 5 minutes if not super soft and squishy, then drained well)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 ounce (about 2 1/2 tablespoons / 20 grams) chopped cacao butter, melted

For the ice cream:

1/2 cup (2.25 ounces / 65 grams) cashews, soaked 6-24 hours, drained

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces / 300 mL) full-fat coconut milk, shaken prior to opening

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces / 170 grams) raspberries

5 tablespoons (3.25 ounces / 90 grams) grade-A maple syrup, plus another 3 tablespoons (1.75 ounces / 50 grams) for macerating the raspberries

1 tablespoon bourbon or vodka (optional)

pinch salt

1/2 ounce (about 2 1/2 tablespoons / 20 grams) chopped cacao butter, melted

For the raw chocolate coating:

1 scant cup (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) chopped cacao butter

1/2 cup (1.5 ounces / 45 grams) raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)

1/4 cup maple syrup (2.75 ounces / 80 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cacao nibs (for topping the sandwiches)

To make the brownies:

In the body of a food processor, process the nuts with the cacao powder and salt until fairly finely ground. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Place the dates (drained if soaked) with the vanilla in the now-empty blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the nut mixture and melted cacao butter to the date mixture, and pulse until combined and clumpy, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.

Line two 8×4″ loaf pans (or one 8×8″ square pan) with parchment paper, leaving the sides sticking out for handles. Pack each pan with half of the brownie mixture, pressing firmly, into a thin, even layer. Freeze the brownies until firm, at least 20 minutes.

To make the ice cream:

Heat the coconut milk with the vanilla bean in a small saucepan over a medium flame until hot and steamy, swirling occasionally. Cover and let steep 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the raspberries with 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup and the bourbon in a small bowl and mash lightly. Set aside.

In the body of a blender or food processor, pulse together the cashews, maple syrup, and salt. Blend until smooth, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Remove the vanilla pod from the coconut milk, discard the pod, and slowly blend the coconut milk into the cashew mixture. Blend until silky smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, a minute or two. Blend in the melted cacao butter, then stir in the mashed berries and their juices, leaving some chunks of berries.

Scrape the ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Assemble the sandwiches:

If you made the brownies in one pan, cut in half. Scrape the ice cream onto the top of one brownie and spread evenly. (There is plenty of ice cream, so feel free to “taste.”) Turn out the second brownie onto the top of the ice cream and press gently to even it out. Peel off the parchment and discard. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

When firm, use the parchment handles to pull the ice cream sandwich out of the pan and onto a large cutting board. With a sharp chef’s knife, trim away the edges and cut into 8 sandwiches. Freeze until ready to dip.

Make the chocolate:

In a metal bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, combine the cacao butter, cacao powder, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until nearly melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until warm and slightly thickened, whisking frequently to keep the mixture in the emulsion.

Dip the sandwiches:

Remove the frozen sandwiches from the freezer and line a small sheet pan with parchment paper. Working quickly, dip a sandwich into the chocolate halfway on the diagonal. Shake off the excess chocolate, place on the pan and immediately top with a sprinkle of cacao nibs before the chocolate hardens. (You’ll only have a matter of seconds to get them on there, but you can always re-dip the sandwich if need be.) Work quickly and return the sandwiches to the freezer to firm up again, at least 30 minutes.

The sandwiches are best when they’ve had a few minutes to soften out of the freezer. If not serving immediately, wrap airtight and store for up to a month or two.

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