Summertime is Here!
Ah… it’s summer! The skies have been sunny and blue, blue, blue for-seemingly-ever, and the weather is perfectly and deliciously hot—like it should be in the summer; like you want to find some shade and sip on a cool drink; like you want to purposely walk right through that spray of sprinkler water arching across the sidewalk; like summer is finally here!
Feasting on Fresh B.C. Cherries
It’s hot, but not blistering hot; it’s a perfect kind of hot—just on the edge of being too hot—but not. The kind of hot that’s perfect for enjoying all the fresh cherries pouring in from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Western Canada’s fruit-growing region (happily only seven hours west of Calgary, so we have a direct supply line).
Thousands of pounds of plump, sweet, fresh cherries arrive daily at our farmers markets and we are buying huge bags of them. My favourite way to enjoy cherries is simply as they are: cool, refreshing fleshy orbs filled with sweet cherry goodness.
Homemade Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
Once or twice a summer, when the weather is perfectly hot, I crave the taste of my partner’s homemade cherry vanilla ice cream, arguably my all-time favourite flavour of ice cream.
My partner is the ice cream aficionado in our family, so whenever we make ice cream together, he gets to call all the shots and I’m his minion. In my books, he makes the best cherry vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. Laced with his own homemade candied fresh cherries and homemade cherry syrup, it is to-die-for delicious.
“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither,
but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.
That’s my philosophy.”
~ Thorton Wilder
Cherry Vanilla ICE CREAM with Candied Cherries
My partner kindly allowed me to share his recipe for cherry vanilla ice cream, which took him quite a few trials to perfect. I was his taste tester—it was a grueling job, but someone had to do it. I bucked up and selflessly sampled every batch.
He makes two types of cherry vanilla ice cream. Both versions contain homemade candied cherries, but in one version he infuses cherry syrup directly into the custard so all the ice cream is cherry flavoured. The second version doesn’t contain the cherry syrup so the ice cream has more of a pure vanilla taste, with bursts of cherry from the candied cherries distributed throughout. Both are delicious. Make whichever version appeals most. Or, better yet, try both!
- a two quart ice cream maker (we use the Lello Gelato Pro Ice Cream Maker)
- a cherry pitter (if you don’t have a cherry pitter, use a chopstick or a pastry tip)
- an instant read thermometer
- 1 3/4 cup (410 ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons all natural black cherry jam (we use Hero black cherry preserves)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 cup cherry syrup, reserved from homemade candied cherries (optional)
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup candied cherries, chopped (see David Lebovitz’s recipe)
- In a bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50 g) of sugar until foamy.
- Heat milk and 1/2 cup (100g) sugar in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 170 °F (77 C°). Remove from heat.
- Temper the egg mixture with the heated milk by slowly drizzling half of the heated milk into the egg mixture, while vigorously and continuously whisking. (Watch the excellent YouTube video in the reference section below if tempering eggs is new to you).
- Whisk the tempered egg mixture slowly back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Add cherry preserves.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 185 °F (85 C °) or it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the custard to boil.
- Remove from heat and blend until smooth using an immersion blender or regular blender.
- Add heavy cream to a large stainless steel or glass bowl set over an ice bath.
- Pour the custard through a fine-meshed sieve into the cold cream. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, sour cream and cherry syrup (if using), and whisk well.
- Completely cool mixture over ice bath (about 30 minutes).
- Remove the bowl from the ice bath, dry the bottom, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
- When ready to make ice cream, proceed as per the manufacturer’s directions for your ice cream maker.
- Chop the candied cherries, mostly into quarters.
- When ice cream is ready, fold in candied cherries and place ice cream in freezer to chill for 2-3 hours before serving.
Homemade Quick Candied Cherries
Cherries are super easy to candy using David Lebovitz’s excellent recipe for Quick Candied Cherries. Follow David’s recipe, but add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and let the cherries cook down just a bit longer to get a slightly thicker syrup.
Quick candied cherries are delicious and versatile. You can use them as an ice cream topping, in desserts, over plain yogurt and anywhere else you can think of. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for a week. They also freeze spectacularly well for up to a year, so I usually make extra just before the cherry season ends and freeze them in freezer bags so we can enjoy the taste of cherries come winter.
How to Serve Homemade Ice Cream
While homemade ice cream can be kept frozen for days or weeks, ideally it is served fresh, a few hours after making. Homemade ice cream is denser than commercial ice cream for several reasons. Ice cream makers designed for home use do not churn the ice cream base as vigorously as commercial and high-end professional models, which whip tons of air into the custard. Commercial blends also use additives, complicated recipes and technologies to maintain that “fluffy” texture once frozen solid. This is not possible using home ice cream makers.
Although homemade ice cream is less “fluffy” than commercial ice cream, we vastly prefer it. It’s easy to compensate for the somewhat harder density of frozen solid homemade ice cream—if you are not serving your ice cream within a few hours of freezing it, simply scoop it out and let the ice cream stand for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature before serving. This allows the minute water crystals (which inevitably form) to melt, giving your ice cream much more of a creamy texture. Believe me, it’s worth waiting the extra few minutes, as so much of the enjoyment we get from ice cream is from the velvety smooth creamy mouth feel.
Excellent Reference Books:
How to Temper Eggs
All images by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife