Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

Like that famous Depeche Mode song says "I just can't get enough"...of ice cream, that's it! Summer flies by way too fast and I simply don't wanna miss the chance to try all the flavors I wrote down on my recipe ideas list (a very long list, btw). Also this ice cream was the perfect excuse to use up a couple bags of hazelnuts and finally make my own healthy chocolate hazelnut butter (because Nutella is so last year!). Side note: buying a powerful food processor was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time, you can whip up delicious and super smooth nut butters in the blink of an eye.
Truth be told this is my way to avoid buying an indecent amount of Ben & Jerry's pints and thus become a sugar junkie; instead I make my "healthified" versions using unrefined sugars and organic, healthier and wholesome ingredients.
Let me explain with full details what this ice cream really is: a 100% plant-based chocolate hazelnut ice cream with thick swirls of homemade chocolate hazelnut butter that wonderfully fuse together. You can also top it all off with some cool sprinkles or toppings like chopped toasted hazelnuts, a chocolate sauce or even marshmallows, but we are talking about a pretty intense-flavored ice cream and honestly don't think it really needs any add-ins. It's super chocolatey, incredibly creamy (ZERO ice crystals, yo!) and a pleasure to your tastebuds.
Bonus point: you will have plenty of chocolate hazelnut butter after making the ice cream to spread it on your morning toast!

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
(6 servings approximately)

- For the ice cream:
3 cups hazelnut cream (ingredients and recipe follow).
1 cup unsweetened hazelnut milk.
1/2 cup coconut sugar.
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup.
5 tablespoons pure cocoa powder.
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum.
Pinch of salt.
- For the hazelnut cream:
2 cups raw hazelnuts.
1 1/3 cups filtered water.
1/2 cup pure maple syrup.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla powder.
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum.
- For the chocolate hazelnut butter:
2 cups raw hazelnuts.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla powder.
4 to 5 tablespoons pure cocoa powder.
8 tablespoons pure maple syrup.
Pinch of salt.
1 tablespoon coconut oil.
1/2 cup unsweetened hazelnut or almond milk.

- The ice cream recipe was inspired by Fran Costigan's Chocolate Brownie Crumble Ice Cream, from her cookbook Vegan Chocolate (this is not an affiliate link, just giving credit where credit is due). If you want to see how the original recipe looks like, here is my version.
- To blanch/skin the hazelnuts I followed Rose Levy's method using bicarbonate of soda and it works like a charm! Click here to see a video of the process.
- My suggested organization is: 
Day one: make the chocolate hazelnut butter. 
Day two: make the hazelnut cream and the ice cream early, let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours in order to have a really cold base. Churn the ice cream later and freeze overnight.
Day three: before serving, let the ice cream thaw for 10-15 minutes at room temperature until it becomes scoopable. Enjoy!

- To make the hazelnut cream:
Skin/blanch the hazelnuts following Rose Levy's method which is fantastic: for every cup of hazelnuts use 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Quickly add in the nuts and keep an eye if some foam forms, remove the boil-overs with a spoon. Cook the hazelnuts for around 4 minutes, run under cold water and you'll see how easy it is now to peel the hazelnuts. Drain the hazelnuts very well before proceeding with the cream.
Put the nuts into a blender and add the filtered water, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend, starting on low, and increase the speed to high. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Carefully add in the xanthan gum directly onto the cream and blend on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.

- To make the ice cream:
Using a high speed blender process the hazelnut cream, milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup and cocoa powder on high speed for 1 minute until completely smooth. Carefully add in the xanthan gum right into the center of the mixture and blend on low for a few seconds, add the pinch of salt and blend for 1 minute.
Pour the ice cream base into an airtight container and refrigerate the base for at least 3 hours before churning.
When the mixture is cold pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last minute of churning add in the desired amount of chocolate hazelnut butter or simply add it by hand using a spoon and creating swirls.
Transfer the ice cream to the previous airtight container, cover the surface with plastic wrap in order to protect it from ice crystals and freeze until the ice cream is firm enough to scoop.

- To make the chocolate hazelnut butter:
Skin the hazelnuts using the same method above (read the hazelnut cream directions), let the nuts drain well and roast them in a frying pan lightly coated with coconut oil. Let cool a little bit before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
In a food processor blend the nuts until they begin to form a paste. Add in the vanilla, cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and coconut oil. Process until it starts to get smooth; don't worry if you see that the paste looks like "curdled" right after adding these ingredients, it will get smooth again. Finally add the milk and blend for a while until completely creamy and spreadable.
Transfer to a clean jar, cover and let it cool at room temperature. Store the chocolate hazelnut butter in the refrigerator and don't forget to let it thaw a little bit before being incorporated into the ice cream. If it's too cold you can heat the desired amount in a small saucepan on low heat until it softens.