This vegan ice cream is actually easier and faster to make than the cream-and-egg version: There's no extended time spent over the stove awaiting the moment the custard thickens and no reason to worry that you'll scramble the eggs. Infusing the milk with vanilla bean adds great flavor but can be skipped in a pinch. Try it with some of my favorite mix-ins, listed below.
Add the coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a medium pot, and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Dissolve the arrowroot in 1 tablespoon water. Slowly drizzle it into the coconut milk mixture, whisking constantly. As soon as the mixture returns to a simmer, remove it from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl, remove the vanilla bean pod and set aside until the mixture stops steaming, then refrigerate until completely cool.
Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions (this will take 20 to 30 minutes). Serve immediately, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
For vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream: As the ice cream churns, add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more to taste). Once the mixture is ready, add 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate, and continue churning until combined.
For vegan strawberry ice cream: Chop 2 cups fresh strawberries, place them in a bowl and add 2 teaspoons each coconut sugar and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Set aside to macerate while the ice cream churns. You can also crush the strawberries slightly with a fork to create a chunky sauce. Once the ice cream is churned, pour in the strawberry mixture and churn until combined.
For vegan almond butter swirl ice cream: As soon as the ice cream is churned, drizzle in 1/3 cup almond butter and continue churning for a few seconds to distribute.
When freshly churned, this ice cream is the perfect consistency, and, if you time it right, that's the best way to serve it. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer; just be sure to allow enough time for it to soften before serving.