- Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy - http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com -

Drunken Cherry-Vanilla Ice Cream

One of the few things I really love about living in a tropical climate is the fact that I can inconspicuously eat ice cream almost the whole year long. That’s right. Nary an eyebrow is raised when I stroll my Haagen Dazs [1]laden shopping cart through the checkout line at the grocery store in the middle of a balmy 75 degree February afternoon. Sure, it gets cold here sometimes, but not nearly enough to make much of a difference. It’s a good thing too, because if I had to go without my favorite treat for months at a time, I probably wouldn’t be a very pleasant person to be around. In fact, I think I’d be downright bitchy! I’ve always considered ice cream to be one of the major food groups. And, well…..a girl has to keep up her calcium intake, you know!
When it comes to ice cream, I’ve always been kind of a purist. My hands down favorite has always been good old vanilla. While I do like a lot of other flavors too, I’ve never been a fan of chocolate. I also don’t like anything crunchy in my ice cream. That means no nuts, no chips, no cookie bits. I know that some of you may find this sacrilegious, but that’s just the way it is. Swirls are allowed, though, as long as they’re fudgy, caramelly or better yet, fruity.

I’m really big on fruit-based ice creams, because fruit is another one of the major food groups and I can kill two birds with one stone. I’m very efficient that way. A few weeks ago, I shared the recipe [2] for one of my favorite ice creams with you and today, I’m going to share another one – Drunken Cherry-Vanilla Ice Cream.

This ice cream is a perfect one to make this time of year when fresh, sweet, juicy, ruby-hued Bing cherries abound. The vanilla base is one that I’ve borrowed from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop [3]. It is a Philadelphia-style ice cream, which is one that contains no eggs yolks, instead, relying heavily on cream. This type of base is foolproof and is my preferred method for making fruit-based ice creams.

The drunken aspect of this recipe comes from soaking the cherries in alcohol, specifically a cherry brandy. The most well-known of these is kirschwasser, which literally means “cherry water” in German. It is a is a clear brandy distilled from cherry juice and pits that is often used in both savory and sweet cooking. Kirschwasser, or kirsch for short, is a popular ingredient in fondues and is a signature ingredient in Cherries Jubilee [4]. I love Cherries Jubilee! We had it flambeed tableside at our wedding. If you don’t have kirsch, you can certainly substitute another kind of cherry brandy or liqueur. If you don’t want to use alcohol at all, you can just swap out the brandy for fruit juice or just plain water.

Now, before you run around telling everyone that I’m a lush who puts booze in ice cream, let me explain that I do this because alcohol is supposed to prevent the ice cream from freezing too hard, thus retaining its creamy scoopability. Of course, by cooking it, I probably have defeated the purpose, but it does taste great, so I stand by my decision.

With or without the brandy, this is a luscious, creamy ice cream, and a great way to use up cherries that are past their prime. Give it a try. Go on…..you know you want to.
Drunken Cherry-Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup fresh Bing cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup cherry brandy, such as kirschwasser
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine cherries, brandy and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and liquid is absorbed. Chill until ready to mix into ice cream.

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the remaining cream, the half-and-half, and the vanilla extract.
Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, for at least eight hours or overnight. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla pod, then freeze in your ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Turn ice cream into a freezer proof container. Mix in cherry mixture and freeze until firm.

If you like fruity frozen desserts too, check out these other great recipes: