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Cacao Pistachio Florentine & Mint Ice Cream Sandwich


raw food recipe cacao pistachio florentine


From issue 5 of News from the Kitchen


Ice cream

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cup almond milk*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tightly-packed fresh mint leaves
  1. Scrape the inside of the vanilla pod, and discard the outer part. Alternatively, you can put the outer part in water to infuse, making ‘vanilla water’.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into 4 round, equal-sized moulds and place in the freezer to set. I used metal rings with plastic film stretched over the base of them.



  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup melted cacao butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  1. Blend all ingredients except the cacao nibs and pistachio nuts in a high-speed blender until smooth.
  2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in the cacao nibs and pistachios.
  3. Use a spoon to form 8 florentines (circles as big as the ice cream moulds you used) on some nonstick paper and place in the freezer to set. If you haven’t got enough room in your freezer to lay them out flat, you can put them in the fridge first, until they are firm enough to stack up in the freezer.


Before serving

  1. Remove the ice cream and florentines from the freezer 1 – 2 hours before serving.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches with one florentine on the bottom and one on the top of the ice cream that you removed from the moulds.
  3. Decorate the outside of the mint ice cream with some more chopped pistachio nuts.

* The almond milk you need for this recipe can be be made by blending 1 cup soaked almonds in 2 cups of pure water. You should then strain the mixture through a nut milk bag, or a fine-mesh sieve if you don’t have a nut milk bag.

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  3. Lois

    Hi Russel…Your recipes are wonderful..thank you so much. I’d love to try this one, but want to keep the cost down. Can anything be substituted for the vanilla bean and for the cacao butter?

    • Russell James

      Hi Lois, the vanilla bean can be substituted for a good quality vanilla extract.

      Cacao butter is really unique in its ability to set hard, so there’s not really a substitute for it in this recipe.

  4. Belinda

    I made this a few years ago when I first saw it and couldn’t believe that it looked exactly like your photo and of course tasted amazing! Will be serving up for Christmas this year!

  5. Javier

    Hello Russel,
    Thank you so much for sharing your expirence and knowledage with us.
    Where I live is not possible to find cacao butter could you just tell us what we could add instead.
    Vasso & Javier

    • Russell James

      Hi guys, cacao butter is pretty unique in its properties. In this recipe it’s used for making the florentines hold together. You can get that to a degree from coconut butter, so give that a go.

  6. Sandra

    Absolutely beautiful, but the question is how to eat it gracefully? I think I would prefer it in a glass dish with the florentines on the side.

  7. laura

    can i substitute coconut oil for flax seed oil?  what other substitution would you recommend?

    • Russell James

      Flax oil won’t work because it doesn’t set up like coconut oil and it’s also quite a strong and very different taste.  There’s not really another oil that will do it.  What’s your reason for wanting to not use coconut oil?

  8. Christine

    This looks so scumptious, but what worries me is the amount of fat from all the nuts


  9. karen

    I made this recipe last night.   They are so delicious I don’t think most people would realize there is no dairy used.    Unfortunately, I had to substitute cocoa nibs for the cookies because I could not find cacao nibs at our two local health food stores.  

    One question, how do you melt your cacao butter without heating it to above the raw food max temp?   

    Despite being the most expensive recipe I’ve ever made (cacao butter, vanilla bean and the molds were the big purchases), I have some new ingredients to use in additional recipes.   Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • Russell James

      Hi Karen,

      I usually heat my cacao butter in a dehydrator, but if you don’t have one you can always use a bowl within a bowl of hot water, and a thermometer if you want to be absolutely sure.

      • karen

         Thank you.   That is what I should have done – I ended up holding a small saucepan, high above the gas burner, which took a long time and got a bit tiresome ;-)    Also, even though the original recipe calls for four molds, I ended up using six small round stainless steel cookie cutter molds (maybe 2″ or 2.5″ diameter by 1″ deep) with plastic wrap on one side, as you describe.   While I used every bit of the cacao / pistachio mixture for the cookies, I still had enough leftover ice cream to make an additional two or three sandwiches.

  10. Lulu

    can i substitute walnuts for cashew nuts in the pistache forentines with mint icecream?

  11. Marisa

    its like a dream, it cannot be true…i will make this ice cream next easter holidays to push my fiancee to a formal engagement…
    imagine sea side stars on the sky a table with candles and this ice cream from heaven (and from Russell) in front of him….Its now or never……

  12. Lin

    This looks amazing. I can see the ice cream definitely  happening, but pistachios are hard to come by raw around here… salted and roasted mainly :( What nut would you substitute if you had to? Thanks x

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  14. Lawson_susan1

    I so love the look of this recipe! Can’t wait to make it. What shall I use to sweeten as agave is potentially a problem for my son? (the sugars in it you see) Thank you for such fab recipes. This is the best blog I have ever seen.

  15. Kathy

    Thank you Russel for sharing this awesome recipe , I can afford these ingredients and the prep is simple which is what I really need . Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  16. Andrea

    This look delicious and really easy to do so will HAVE to have a go!  Thanks Russell. 

  17. Leonie

    I will make this one.soon. It looks delocious on a Hot day especially.Thanks for all your e-mails.

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  21. Ewa

    I made this yesterday and it is just divine! So gratefule for all the exquisite recipes on this site!

  22. Anna

    Russel- Thank you for makeing raw food interesting and tasty! I just love everything you´ve created! :) :D

  23. wen

    I came cross your website today, and those pictures are so yummmmy ;) I can’t wait to try…would love to attend your classes one day :)

  24. ninoZ

    just found your website..
    what an eye pleasing ..
    gonna try this..will surely be the ‘hitting target’ for my ‘green’ son

    have a greAT day

  25. Lisa Erwin Dallas Texas

    Ohhh my goodness your recipes are so divine. Thank you.

    BTW I get my raw almonds from http://www.almonds-from-california.com/cgi-bin/ppcart/ppcart.pl?cat&californiaalmonds
    The US passed a law recently that almonds from California have to be either treated chemically or heat treated before they leave the state. This is the only source I’ve found that does not do that. The ones you get in the stores that say raw are really heat treated. See the small print at the store.

    Thank you again for such a great recipe

  26. Alex

    This is for Judy who was looking for raw almonds…I don’t know what part of the US you’re in, but in the Northeast between NY and DC, raw almonds are perfectly legal at Whole Foods supermarkets or Trader Joe’s discount markets, or online. Needless to say they are 2-3x more expensive at Whole Foods than Trader Joe’s. Good hunting.

  27. Derek

    Hi Russell,
    I’m new to your blog and was immediately taken by the absolutely beautiful food. I’ve been vegan for 13 years – never completely raw, but of course as a vegan I eat raw food often.
    I just tried this recipe. My first thought when mixing the “ice cream” in the blender was “wow, this is all fat. Ok, let’s give it a try.” Instead of chilling it in the freezer, I ran it through my ice cream machine. I have to say that it really tasted like pure fat – tasty, but it was like eating pure butter. Can this possibly be healthier than eating a fruit sweetened non-dairy dessert? Here in the states we have a great product called Soy Delicious (organic, soy based, fruit sweetened options). It’s great and has very little fat. Sorry, but this was way too fatty for my taste. Also, in response to an above comment, my food co-op (in Massachusetts) sells raw almonds.

    • Holistickat

      You can’t compare a commercial SOY-BASED dessert to a raw one made of completely whole ingredients and with love! The soy is probably GMO and nutritionally worthless as well.


    i’m so glad i found out about this site. i’m new to the raw vegan lifestyle and strongly want to make it my lifestyle. Day 6 or being RAW for the 30 day challenge.
    looks good!

  29. Stacy

    Hi Russell,
    Is there something that I can substitute in place of the cacao butter used in the florentines?
    Thank you for your time & recipe! :)

    From Russell: Hi Stacy, you could just leave it out and then dehydrate the florentines.

  30. Russell

    Kali, the recipe used was photographed as you see it, so the colour is just from the mint and won’t turn brown.

  31. Spewy

    I tried this recipe today and it’s just great! This is the first proper ‘desert’ I have made since incorporating large amounts of raw food into my diet. I do have to get over the fact that its hugely fat based when I eat it though, I guess I’m still programmed by all the false hype about how good ‘fat-free’ produce is. It’s not Coconut or Cashew fat that gets us in trouble, its dead rubbish like pizza, chips and bread that puffs us up!

    Nice recipe, amazing taste!

  32. Russell

    Hi Judy, Cacao butter can be bought online from a variety of places, just ‘Google’ it :-)

    As for the almonds, I’m not sure about the US. Fortunately where I am, in the UK, we can still get them unpasteurised. Maybe someone reading this can help?

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  34. Rose

    This is gorgeous! I can’t wait to try it and share it with my family on Thursday! Thank you so much for sharing your creations with us…

  35. Kali

    The beautiful green color of the ice cream is so vivid and beautiful! It’s solely from the mint leaves? They don’t turn brown?
    Just want to make sure I get everything right for Thanksgiving day!

    Thank you Russell!

  36. Tanja

    Absolutely genius! And I love the vanilla water idea. It’s like using the whole buffalo, raw vegan-style. As always, a food photo that makes me weep just a little with it’s beauty. Lovely!


  37. Heidi


    After I took one look at this recipe in your newsletter, I immediately called Justin and told him to go to the nearest computer and see what you had just created.

    It is such a beautiful photo. And the recipe looks delicious as well!

    Well done, fellow foodie!
    ~ Heidi

  38. Pam


    Your food always amazes me! It looks so yummy and you are so talented!

    Would be great to borrow you for a week to uncook for my husband and me….wow, what a wonderful thought…. But then again I would be totally spoiled…he he!!!

    Thanks for sharing!


  39. Russell James

    Is it definitely cacao butter or coconut oil you got?

    The reason I ask is that coconut oil can go rancid very easily and taste like that.

    If it’s cacao butter, you shouldn’t get a bad taste.

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