Mocha-speculoos ice cream.

Coffee and sugar are an inseparable pair to me. Not to say I take sugar in my coffee; truth is, I do not drink coffee (tea please!) and only take coffee in sugary treats: mocha cakes, coffee spiked chocolate, macchiato soy milk, café noir biscuits, … You name it, as long as it caters to my sweet tooth. Coffee and sugar established their – at least to me – crucial palatal partnership during my early childhood.

When growing up, I did have breakfast with a cup of coffee every now and then. Not to drink, but to dunk my speculoos biscuits in. A delicate operation, demanding experience, as the cookie needed to absorb the exact right amount of liquid that would make it spreadable on my slice of bread. One drop too many, and the completely saturated biscuit would crumble and dissolve, and sink to the bottom of the coffee cup as one irretrievable mash, only to be discarded in the sink at the end of the meal. But with the right instinctive feel, you ended up with a delicacy on your bread.

Entire generations of Belgian children must have grown up having coffee-infused speculoos sandwiches for breakfast. But then came the year 2006 and a reality tv show called De Bedenkers (The Inventors) in which contestants could showcase their inventions to a jury. Obviously meeting some need for ready-made spreadable cookie paste, two participants independently presented a recipe for ‘speculoos paste’. What ensued is quite an intriguing story containing all ingredients for drama, making headlines in Belgian newspapers between 2006 and 2011, the summary of which you can read in this article on the cookie butter patent wars.  It’s about competition, envy, lawsuits, a 180-degree plot twist, an elderly innocent blogging lady as ‘dea ex machina’ claiming to be the ‘real’ inventor (of something widely known…) and a multiply sold and eventually destroyed patent. But essentially that tv programme was the starting point for speculoos paste to surge into the ranks of both edible and non-edible eminent exported Belgian inventions, conquering the world and as such rubbing shoulders with French fries,  waffles, Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive, pralines, chocolate bars and chocolate spread. Some of these better for one’s BMI (also a Belgian invention) than others. The US demand is apparently so high an American production line is being set up. It should be functional in 2019.

Since the ‘invention’ and huge success of speculoos paste, this particular biscuit has slipped into plenty other food items, from liquor (speculoosjenever), over chocolate, to ice cream. Our custom cookie is now more custom than ever. Yet I still only buy the plain biscuits, mainly to use them for layering in freshly made vanilla pudding (a treat!). Never the speculoos paste (its caloric content being high, its nutritional value being zero), and never speculoos ice cream, as the store version is not vegan anyhow. Luckily speculoos ice cream is easy to make, and since speculoos is so strongly linked to coffee (there is a good reason why Lotus branded them Biscoff in the US), this weekend I decided to upgrade my ‘plain’ speculoos ice cream to mocha-speculoos ice cream. With a hint of chocolate, because coffee and chocolate are a good match too. Chocolate is a good match with just about anything, though perhaps not with Brussels sprouts (except as a prank).

The children and the husband were happy with this new experiment, and I doubly so, for not only was the taste just right and exactly as expected, the texture of the ice cream confirmed my suspicions (see my recent blog post on double cherry ice cream) that syrup is better suited for ice cream making than granulated (cane) sugar.


mocha-speculoos ice cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy, but you need an ice cream maker
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  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) strong coffee
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) coconut milk
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) agave syrup
  • 75 g really finely ground speculoos biscuits, the equivalent of about 8 biscuits (I used a wholegrain variety, which I think tastes best)
  • 25 g coarsely crushed speculoos biscuits, so roughly 2 or 3
  • a handful of chocolate slivers/crushed chocolate callets and/or chocolate cookie crumbs [I used both. I started by adding chocolate, but then I remembered the bag with chocolate chocolate chip cookies that got crushed during a day out earlier that week, and decided to throw them in as well.]


  • Mix the coffee, coconut milk, coconut milk, agave syrup and the finely ground speculoos biscuits and pour the mixture into your ice cream maker.
  • Churn according to the directions of your ice cream maker (in mine it takes approximately 30-40 minutes)
  • Before removing the ice cream from the ice cream maker, add in the chocolate (chip crumbs) and the speculoos crumbs
  • Transfer to a container and let sit in the freezer for 3 more hours

Blackberry-peach salad with grilled smoky tempeh and balsamic blackberry vinaigrette.

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Blackberries – or brambles – are in season and there is no way not to notice, as they seem to be everywhere. Bramble bushes are vegetation of the invasive kind, something our bare legs experienced ‘first hand’ this July when trying to find the overgrown footpaths on Cornwall’s Ding Dong moor (don’t you just lóve that name?) that would bring us to neolithic stone monuments and remnants of a long gone industrial past. Wading through knee-high prickly shrubs (and carrying the children), we eventually got where we wanted to be, though not without scratches and scars.

Equally abundant (but of taller growth) were the blackberry bushes that seamed the less adventurous paths of the 12 km walk we made last Saturday (that was a record we set with the kids, and of course we celebrated that with ice cream afterwards ;-)). Here, the shrubs also carried loads of ripe blackberries, and having just consumed the apples and grapes we had carried along, we realised we had an empty container and thus an opportunity to pick these wild brambles and transport them without the risk of accidentally crushing them. [A propos crushing: that is what happened with my chocolate-chocolate chip cookies during a day trip earlier last week, and I ended up using the crumbs in… ice cream (but more about that in a separate blog post.]



I am usually not that particularly fond of brambles. I mostly find them a little too tart to my taste. But the ones we picked last Saturday were, perhaps due to the extreme warm weather this summer, both smaller and sweeter than those I recall from my childhood days and my parents’ garden (where there is a huge bramble bush covering the entire length of one of the house’s exterior walls), and I was immediately looking forward to using them in… well, in something.

I did not rightaway know in what …(except for my soy yoghurt for breakfast), but still  being on a mission to bring more salads into this world I suddenly got this great idea, turned it into reality, and just look at this wonderfully colourful dish which part of my blackberry yield ended up in. That purple hue in the vinaigrette! The combination of ingredients was a bit of a calculated gamble, but lived up to its promise and truly did not disappoint. Absolutely a dish to keep.
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Blackberry-peach salad with grilled smoky tempeh and balsamic blackberry vinaigrette

  • Difficulty: medium
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For the vinaigrette

  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 2 TB white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TB red balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper

For the salad

  • 200 g smoked tempeh, sliced and grilled – I used the Veganomicon recipe for smoky grilled tempeh*
  • a handful of mixed greens
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • a large handful of toasted almond slivers
  • a cup of blackberries

*Smoky grilled tempeh (all credit to Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero):

  • 1 package tempeh (200 g)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TB liquid smoke, hickory flavor
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

>> mix all ingredients for the marinade, and then grill the tempeh, pouring half of the marinate into the pan, until it has evaporated. Turn the tempeh slices and add the other half of the marinade. Grill until the marinade had again evaporated and the tempeh starts to caramelise.


For the vinaigrette:

Mix all ingredients in a  high (!) measuring cup with an immersion blender

For the salad:

Assemble all ingredients.

Serve with quinoa, rice, any other type of grain, pasta or potatoes. We had roasted fingerling potatoes.

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Double cherry ice cream.

As the heat (and unfortunately also the drought) persisted during the first week of August, I made the following my motto: ‘(at least) an ice cream a day keeps the warmth away’. Not really, but still. That week I made several types of ice cream. Creamy fruit popsicles to begin with. Those were coconut milk and fruit-based (#1: banana, orange and pineapple / #2: banana, nectarine and mango), fully naturally sweetened, and mainly for the children as this allowed them to have two ice creams per day ;-). I also churned chocolate-chocolate chip cookie dough and salty caramel pecan ice cream from the (no longer available) ice cream book ‘glass åt alla‘ (ice cream for everyone), starring recipes from five Swedish vegan chefs. They certainly pleased the palates of both our ice cream tasting guest on Wednesday and our dinner (+ dessert) guests on Thursday.

And then towards the end of that week I decided to mix some leftover coconut milk with a jar of my preserved cherries (on syrup) to make some instant ice cream, requiring only few ingredients and little time. The result was rather sweet, but very tasty. If you like cherries, of course, because the ice cream contains both cherry syrup and preserved cherries. As I wanted to eat that ice cream shortly after prepping it, I decided to skip the boiling part which is usually part of the process (since the arrowroot, which prevents the ice cream from crystallising, i.e. turning rock-hard, has to be added right after the mixture has boiled, but at that point no longer is 100 degrees Celcius). So no arrowroot, but no need to let the mixture cool down before churning it either, which saved me 2-3 hours, or actually more, as I usually let the ice cream sit in the fridge overnight.

And guess what, this must be, together with my lavender ice cream, the smoothest ice cream I ever made. Even when taking the last leftovers from the freezer yesterday, the ice cream was still pleasantly soft and had the ideal texture for immediate serving. My first guess would be it is because of the syrup, as syrup – instead of cane sugar – was also what I had used in my lavender ice cream. I will try and have this presumption corroborated in the near future with another ice cream flavour experiment, already having a very good candidate in mind. Never mind the fact that the weather finally is typically Belgian again.

Double cherry ice cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
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  • 300 ml coconut cream
  • 100 ml (whippable, but not whipped) soy cream (I used alpro)
  • 200 ml cherry syrup (from a jar of home-made preserved cherries in syrup)
  • 200 ml preserved cherries


Mix all ingredients and pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn (in my ice cream maker, that takes about 40 minutes). Thereafter, let the ice cream sit in the freezer a couple of hours extra until it has reached a more solid consistency. Scoop and serve.

This ice cream will remain smooth even after more than a week in the freezer;

Oreo & Peanut Butter Ice Cream.

This July we spent our summer vacation in the UK. And as was the case in practically the whole of Europe, the (unusually) sunny weather and the temperatures we enjoyed (and I actually mean the ‘enjoy’ part, as they were between 22 and 27 degrees Celcius) called for ice cream, as did the plain fact that it was our holiday. So practically every day we went vegan ice cream hunting in the various local supermarkets (any other people out there who classify shopping in foreign supermarkets a full-fledged holiday activity, or are we just weird?) or at ice cream vendors’. Our catch: freshly made fruit and chocolate sorbets, lemon sorbet from Sainsbury’s, cornettos from various brands (Free From 4U and Cornetto), snowconut sticks from the Coconut Collaborative, smooze coconut and mango freezable popsicles, and the Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream range. Alas too many brands and flavours to my liking also were left untried, as there’s only so much ice cream one can digest. Among the ice cream we did eat, though, our number one was Ben & Jerry’s cookie and peanut ice cream. We had not bought that one in Belgium yet, as we frankly find it too expensive. In the UK, however, it was reasonably priced. Food items in general actually tend to be 20% cheaper there on average.

Once back in Belgium, and having to adjust to the scorching hot temperatures of a heat wave, I decided to make my own oreo (I know, palm oil… :-// ) and peanut butter (without palm oil!) ice cream. Making ice cream yourself has several advantages. It is cheaper, you can make a larger batch, you are fully in control of the ingredients (agave syrup, pure peanut butter, & more cookies!), you can pour it into popsicle molds (or not), and you do not support large multinationals (that are not so vegan or animal friendly at their very core, but just happen to have introduced some vegan products into their range now that they have realized that vegans spend money too).

I just improvised with the quantities and the ingredients, but I must have done something right, as the result was a very creamy, scoopable ice cream, which my husband proclaimed to be the best one I ever made. That might have been an exaggeration, but perhaps it was not. It was meant very sincerely, at least, and I honestly can recommend trying this recipe if you’re usually in for B&J’s.

Oreo & Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 2 cups (creamy) coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup syrup (I used a blend of maple syrup and agave syrup)
  • a pinch of natural vanilla (powder)
  • 2 TB arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba
  • 4 – 5 crushed oreo cookies
  • 8 tsp peanut butter (I use 100% crunchy peanut butter)


  • Dissolve 2 TB arrowroot in the aquafaba and set aside
  • Bring the cashew milk, coconut milk, syrup and vanilla to a boil
  • Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and stir in the aquafaba/arrowroot mixture
  • Set in the fridge to cool (to speeden up the process, place the bowl with the ice cream mixture into larger bowl with chilled water)
  • Once the ice cream mixture has cooled down, it’s ready for the ice cream machine! Churn according to the directions of your ice cream maker (with mine it takes about 40 minutes). Towards the end of the process, add in the crushed/chopped oreo cookies and the peanut butter (by the dropfuls). If you do not want the peanut butter to dissolve somewhat into the ice cream, freeze it in advance (drop several half teaspoons on a silpat and freeze).
  • Optional: line a popsicle mold with chocolate, place it in the freezer, and fill it with ice cream once it’s ready. Freeze. Once frozen, decorate the popsicles with chocolate/peanut drizzle and oreo crumbs.