What to do with leftover cherries? Well, you could eat them, of course, but when the weather's been in the 90s and the humidity has been up in the zillions, maybe it would be better to take those cherries and make some ice cream with them instead.
It sure sounded like a good idea to me!
I had a little over a pound of cherries at my disposal - I was using another pound for my TWD recipe this week, and they were already set aside, so I just used what was left to make the ice cream.
But first I had to make the ice cream base.
Here's what I used:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 pint of 2% milk (yes, you could certainly use whole milk, but with all the cheese-making and Tuesdays With Dorie-ing I've been doing lately, I thought I could stand to lose a bit of milk fat somewhere.)
6 egg yolks
1/2 a cup of sugar
3/4 T vanilla
1 T almond extract
And, of course, the cherries - pitted, and then roughly chopped.
Basically, when you make vanilla ice cream, you're making a creme anglaise. All I did differently was add almond extract in along with the vanilla when I flavored it.
First thing you do - pour your milk and cream in a pot and place over medium heat.
I scald the milk/cream mixture - which means I bring it to just under the boiling point. Little bubbles start to form along the sides of the pot, and you can see movement in the rest of the liquid. At that point, it's getting ready to form some big boiling bubbles.
While the milk and cream are heating up, whisk together your egg yolks and sugar until they start to thicken and lighten in color.
When the milk/cream has reached the scalding point, you'll need to temper, or slowly heat, the yolks and sugar. This is done by ladling some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks while you whisk as fast as you can. You want to pour the hot milk sloooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwly as you whisk, so as not to heat the yolks too quickly. If they are heated too fast, you'll end up with scrambled eggs and you might as well go make some toast and try the ice cream again later. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. IF you end up getting a bit of coagulation (and it certainly can happen), just make sure you strain the whole ice cream base before you chill it. This will remove any little squiggly bits of cooked yolk, and no one need ever know....
Anyway, back to the tempering. Unless you have a helper or a third arm, you'll need to find a way to keep your bowl of egg yolks from slipping and sliding away while you pour with one hand and whisk with the other. I saw Alton Brown use a damp dish towel as a sort of nest for the bowl, and that works great.
Some cookbooks will instruct that you ladle in all of the milk/cream mixture to the yolks and then pour the whole thing back into the pot. I just use a couple of ladlesful (ladlefuls? no, must be ladlesful. I think.) of the hot milk until the yolks are hot, and then I pour that into the pot with the rest of the milk and move on from there. Whichever is easier or makes more sense to you is fine. Both ways work. The thing to remember is to keep whisking while you first pour that milk in.
Now. Once the egg yolks and sugar are heated up and mixed in with all the milk and cream, and everybody is back in the pot, you want to switch to a spoon and stir,
stir while the whole mixture heats up and thickens.
Your goal, temperature-wise, is between 170-180 degrees F. You don't want to go over, because at that point, no matter how well you did your tempering, you can still end up with scrambled eggs. Very sweet, runny eggs, but coagulated eggs nonetheless. And you don't want that.
So stir and stir and keep an eye on the temperature. The milk/egg mixture will thicken noticeably as you stir, and when the mixture is thick enough, you'll be able to dip your spoon in, and then run a finger down the back of the spoon and the sauce will stay put and not try to meld back together again. Another fun test (well, okay, fun is a relative term), is to dip the spoon in the mixture and then blow on the back of the spoon. When the sauce is thick enough, it will spread out in a rose blossom pattern. Or, you can just be sensible and use a thermometer. At least until you've made this a few times and know what to expect.
When the milk mixture has reached the proper temperature and thickness, you need to remove the pot from the heat and pour the mixture through a strainer (better safe than sorry!) into a bowl, and put THAT bowl in another, larger bowl filled about half way with ice water.
Keep stirring the hot mixture until it becomes tepid. At that point, go ahead and add in your vanilla and almond extracts (or other flavorings if you wish) and then move the bowl of ice cream base into the fridge and let it chill at least 2 hours.
When the base is chilled, get out your ice cream maker, pour in the base, and let it churn.
Because of the heat, I actually set up the ice cream maker in the basement, near the air conditioner, and I wrapped it in a towel to keep the heat out and the coldness in. Last time I made something with the ice cream maker, I had it up in the kitchen, and it churned and churned and churned - and the sorbet I was working on didn't really thicken as it should have. It tasted good anyway. But still - it was just too, too hot up there for the ice cream maker. Things worked out much better in the basement. The vanilla base thickened beautifully, and when it was ready, I poured it into a plastic freezer container and mixed in the chopped cherries.
Actually, I had only prepped about a cup of cherries initially, but when I poured them in, I thought there should be more cherries, so I quickly chopped up the rest and my kids helped me with the pouring and the stirring while I snapped pictures.
Please forgive the appallingly messy countertop - it was rather chaotic yesterday.
Anyway, I put the container into the freezer and that was that.
Until later, of course. And again this morning.
And would you believe
That I shot 70 pictures
Of this same cone of ice cream
In a (futile) attempt
To catch a sharp and clear image of a drip of melted ice cream in midair - somewhere between the ice cream above and the plate below.
It didn't happen, and I didn't want the ice cream to just melt all over the place. Too wasteful for something homemade.
So I threw in the towel and handed the cone to one of our houseguests.
And soon, that ice cream was gone.