Fig & Cacao Nib Ice Cream

Dairy Free Fig & Cacao Nib Ice Cream @Cara's Cravings.jpg

My friends and family have thought of me for a long time as the Pumpkin Princess, but Queen of Cashews might be my next title change. I don’t mean that in a “I rule with cashews” sort of way; I just absolutely love experimenting with them. And the results are always pretty darn good – just the other night, my cream-sauce-hating-hubby couldn’t stop raving about the chicken and broccoli in roasted garlic cashew sauce we had for dinner (more on that later.)

And I can’t count the number of friends who’ve asked for my creamy pumpkin dip recipe, none of whom want to believe it’s dairy-free and refined sugar-free.

I would even say that cashews are my secret weapon in the kitchen. Especially now that I’ve figured out how to churn up unbelievably creamy, dairy-free ice cream with a cashew base.

If you don’t understand what a feat this is, you’ve never tried to make ice cream without dairy and refined sugar and actually expected to scoop it straight from the freezer. I don’t judge you for that, either. I’m the crazy one for going at it again and again! But I love me some ice cream.

Why cashews?

Cashews tend to work very well in dairy-free recipes because they are soft and have a slightly buttery, neutral flavor.

Cashews are a superfood – in addition to being a well-known source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and heart-protective oleic acid, they contain high amounts of minerals that support healthy teeth and bones.

Dr. Oz cites them as being one of the top anti-cancer foods.

Now back to that ice cream.

I’ve tried again and again to perfect my dairy-free homemade ice cream using coconut milk (both full fat and light), and various sweeteners and stabilizers. I envy the commercial institutions that can get it right but almost every time I try, I end up with a rock-hard mass that has to sit for 20 minutes (ain’t nobody got time for that!) before I can scoop it and even then it’s lacking that rich, even consistency of a really good ice cream. I love me some coconut milk but it hasn’t been so kind to me when it comes to making ice cream.

I accidentally stumbled upon the winning combinations of cashews, dried fruit and honey as a winning combination for ice cream when I randomly decided to churn and freeze some leftover dairy-free cheescake I had been experimenting with. Oh my peachy pie! (hint: recipe to come later.) That made for one satisfyingly rich and creamy ice cream, and the excitement to experiment with more flavors.

I quickly raided my pantry for more dried fruit. Figs for the win!

Fig and cacao nib ice cream is a wee bit exotic and a lot grown up. We loved the rich, almost dessert-wine appeal of the dried figs paired with honey, which provides enough sweetness to balance the bitter, crunchy cacao nibs. 

Dairy Free Cashew Ice Cream @Cara's Cravings.jpg

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Fig & Cacao Nib Ice Cream

Yield: 6 servings

Rich and creamy dairy-free ice cream made with cashews, figs and cacao nibs. This ice cream is wee bit exotic and a lot grown up. You'll love the rich, almost dessert-wine appeal of the dried figs paired with honey, which provides enough sweetness to balance the bitter, crunchy cacao nibs.


1 cup raw cashews
1 cup chopped dried figs (thick stems removed)
3 tablespoons soaking water from figs (see instructions)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup cacao nibs


Place cashews and figs in separate containers and add enough water to cover. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 3-4 hours.

Drain cashews and figs, reserving 3 tablespoons of water from the figs. Add the cashews, figs, reserved water, honey, lemon juice, salt and almond milk to a blender or food processor. Begin blending on low speed and gradually increase to high, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed and blending until completely smooth. Chill the mixture for several hours.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to an air-tight, freezer-safe container and freeze for several hours before scooping. This keeps well in the freezer for at least a week.

Cara Lyons,

Cashew Superfood Recipes @Cara's Cravings.jpg

The common thread in the all the delicious food shown above? It all has cashews, of course! For more creative ways to use cashews, check out all these sweet and savory ideas.

Chewy Gingersnap Cookie Dough Balls

Slow Cooker Tomato Queso Dip

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Beet and Parsnip Soup with Cashew Cream

Vegan Cheesecake with Berry Compote

Leek and Garlic Cashew Sour Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chickpea Fries with Avocado Aioli

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Cashew Cream 

What’s your secret ingredient? Tell PartSelect and be entered to win a custom KitchenAid mixer!

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5 Responses to “Fig & Cacao Nib Ice Cream”

  1. 1

    Maggie — June 23, 2014 @ 11:42 am Reply

    What a heavenly combination Cara! I would like to grab a spoon and dig right in 🙂 Thanks for sharing your secret to dairy-free ice cream, and a couple of my cashew-based recipes!

  2. 2

    Alisa Fleming — June 23, 2014 @ 8:28 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for including my recipes in this post Cara! This ice cream looks so amazing – and the flavor combination – yum! I think I would probably use chocolate chips though, I’m bad that way 🙂

  3. 3

    Ricki — June 23, 2014 @ 8:59 pm Reply

    Cara, that ice cream looks positively luscious–what a great flavor combo! And thanks so much for sharing my chickpea fries with aioli and cashew chocolate chip cookies!

  4. 4

    Kristina — June 27, 2014 @ 1:10 pm Reply

    I would LOVE to rule with cashews! and they are a great base for ice cream – this fig + cacao sounds perfect! (pinned) XO

  5. 5

    Marly — June 28, 2014 @ 10:36 am Reply

    This recipe just sounds fun to say, let alone eat. Can’t wait to try it!

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