Vegandulgence Series | Salt & Straw
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Salt & Straw vegan ice creams

A vegan diet has been touted for a lot of things—substantially decreased environmental strain, better digestion, no cruelty toward animals—all of which we can get behind. But never is taste the driving force. A lot of plant-based producers are now venturing into healthier treat territory, plugging added incentives like probiotics and extra protein. We are not. On the contrary, each January we set out to create incredibly delicious, winter-befitting, and New Years-extravagant ice creams that just happen to be vegan. Our mission isn’t simply to ditch the cream by making fruity sorbets—it’s to offer all the deliciousness of dairy, minus the cow.

Though we didn’t mean for it to be a more technical month, using simple plant proteins required our research & development team to get creative and test until the cows (er, vegetables?) came home. You see, plant proteins are a very different animal, so to speak. The manifold proteins in milk (lactose, casein, whey) are complex little workers that impart a natural sweetness, prevent iciness when properly frozen, and stabilize fat while allowing air to be whipped in for a light, creamy texture. Mimicking their richness and lightness can necessitate myriad ingredients, often artificial, and render a compromised taste. We’re not down with that.

We adore coconut cream, given its high fat content and richness, but sometimes it can overwhelm other flavors. So r&d tested out fellow proteins and grains galore—almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, chufa, rice, cashew, sesame. Some were successful, others not so much. 

Gums are also extraordinary ingredients...when used properly. Xanthan gum, a carbohydrate produced by the microbial fermentation of plants, can be a ubiquitous lifesaver for lending viscosity to sauces, baked goods, and ice cream. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies to cut corners and replace costly fats with gums almost entirely, leaving a filmy texture and watered-down tasted. When used in tiny amounts to enhance high-quality ingredients, however—as we do—it can lend silkiness and body. Agar agar, a fiber-heavy gelatin-like substance with a fun name that comes from red algae, is also a fantastic thickener. It’s commonly used in soups, brewing, jellies, and ice cream. Alas, the unfamiliar or misused can cause alarm. We know, and are here to shed some light.

After many trials, we’re thrilled to present our 2020 Vegandulgence ice creams, featuring earthy sunflower seed butter, incredibly versatile soybeans and pectin-heavy bananas, starchy & toothsome oats, potent cocoa and creamy white beans, and luscious spiced coconut. To those bases we’ve added silky cashew cheesecake swirls, dense peanut butter tofu pudding, organic chocolate shards and berry jams, gluten-free cookies with oat milk ganache, candied seeds, and aquafaba marshmallows. We didn’t hold back on inclusions or flavor. We hope this menu will start to change the dialogue around veganism by redefining your concept of what can be delicious. We aren’t the first to do it, but we bet we’re doing it the most indulgently.