Photo by ArtsySF and used with her permission.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cherry Ice Cream

My in-laws visited this past weekend and because of our baby and their potentially late arrival time, my wife thought it better for us to cook dinner on Friday night. After a long day of working, there is limited time to do much in the way cooking so my wife made a simple and rustic French meal of roasted chicken and vegetables from the Bouchon cookbook. For dessert I reached into Dorrie Greenspan's Baking cookbook again for her 15 minute Chocolate Amoretti cake. I picked the dessert because I had to make it on a weekday and it was simple. While reading the recipe she made a note that she uses Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream with this cake.

Amoretti means almonds in Italian and cherry and almonds are a wonderful flavor pairing. So I thought why not add some homemade cherry ice cream? It is the middle of winter so getting good fresh cherries is not easy, but I found some great ones produced in South America. I prefer to be a locavore and eat in season, but cherry ice cream is what was needed so I had no choice. Although these cherries were very good, I felt that more cherry flavor was necessary so I bought some concentrated cherry juice to compensate. The dried tart cherries add an incredible dimension to the ice cream. The kirsch helped the dried cherries stay softer when frozen and lend a great little alcoholic bite which reduces the tartness on the palate. This ice cream was delicious right out of the freezer, but became even more spectacular after the second day in the freezer.

Cherry Ice Cream:

2 cups cream
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
¾ cup of sugar
1 lb. fresh cherries - pitted
4 oz. concentrated cherry juice
2 oz. water
1 cup dried cherries

1. Combine cherry extract, water, ¼ cup of the sugar in a small saucepan and reduce to about ½ cup of liquid. Add the cherries boil for 30 seconds, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the cherries and set aside to cool.
2. Combine, milk, cream, ¼ cup of the sugar in another saucepan and bring to a bare simmer.
3. While the cream/milk is heating, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it is incorporated.
4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Add the cherry puree.
7. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
9. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
10. About 45 minutes prior to freezing, place the dried cherries into a small bowl and pour in enough kirsch to cover them. Some of the cherries may get discolored spots on them but do not worry they will not be noticeable once mixed into the ice cream.
11. Freeze the ice cream. Drain the cherry pieces and add them in the last couple of minutes and allow the ice cream machine to mix them throughout the custard.


Ice Cream Fellow said...

A comment from my cousin, who is a chef -

did you think about steeping the cherries in the Kirsch? or if you take the cherries and steep them in the Kirsch, pull half of them out, for internal garnish, then take the remaining ones still in the Kirsch, turn it into a simple syrup, puree it and there yah go, and no need for the cherry concentrate..... looks good though.....

Ice Cream Fellow said...

Soaking the cherries in the kirsch was enough to keep them soft. I am sure steeping would work too.

The thing about using the dried cherries in simple syrup and then pureeing them is that they are very tart. I wanted the contrast in the ice cream between the bites of tart cherry and the sweet base. Although, I did toss out the kirsch after the cherries were soaked in it. I realized that it was a mistake as I was dumping it down the sink. That liquid would have been great for something else.

The cherry juice concentrate was a great way to get more cherry flavor without anything artificial. In doing my research, I looked at a number of recipes that called for cherry syrup to be added to the base. When I was shopping for ingredients, the cherry syrups I found were horrible. They used high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener and number one ingredient. HFCS is never on my list of great ingredients so I bought the pure concentrate. If it was summer, than I am sure I could have found fresh cherries of sufficient quality and then could have omitted the concentrate.