Cherry-Bourbon-Chocolate Ice Cream

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It’s summer, which means that it’s time to make ice cream! I haven’t made ice cream in ages, but I had my annual Ice Cream Social coming up, which meant I needed to get going again!

The first recipe that really caught my eye this season was Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream. What intrigued me was the addition of peach preserves to the mix, which supposedly don’t affect the vanilla flavor but instead add a unique texture to the ice cream. I was eager to give it a try myself, but was mindful of the fact that plain vanilla wouldn’t necessarily tempt my guests when compared with the more exotic flavors that were sure to be on hand. So I gave the matter some thought and settled on the addition of bourbon-soaked cherries. And then chocolate, because why not?

bourbon-cherries-bottle

I really liked the combination of vanilla, cherries, and bourbon in the finished ice cream, though I have to admit that I’m not sure that the chocolate added much to the flavor profile– probably because it was firm chocolate rather than a gooey swirl. I think in the future I would make a ganache (with a little corn syrup added to keep it even softer) to layer in with the cherries, rather than straight melted chocolate. Still, it was a pretty good ice cream, with a nice kick from the bourbon that was just subtle enough because it was confined to the cherries rather than being mixed in. I will definitely be adding this vanilla base to my repertoire!

Bourbon-Roasted Cherries

12 oz. cherries

1 tbs. sugar

3 tbs. bourbon

Pit your cherries and chop them very coarsely– I like to cut them in half, drop one half into the bowl and cut the remaining half into quarters. It’s faster than trying to chop both halves and it lets me make sure that my cherry pitter has in fact removed the pit from the cherry.

Put the cherries into a foil-lined pan (mine was a 9×9 cake pan) and sprinkle the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the bourbon over them.

Roast at 450 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Scrape the cherries and their juice into a bowl, mix in the remaining two tablespoons of bourbon, and chill thoroughly. I left mine in the fridge for three days, covered, with no adverse effects.

bourbon-cherries

Vanilla Ice Cream Base (slightly adapted from Alton Brown)

1 cup milk

2 cups heavy cream

5 1/2 ounces sugar

2 ounces peach* preserves or jam (not jelly or low-sugar)

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

1 pinch kosher salt

4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

* I couldn’t find peach preserves at my local market, so I went with apricot. It worked fine!

1. Combine the milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer and bring the mixture to 175 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. (this step is important to break down some chemical structures in the dairy that might impede smoothness… at least according to Alton, and I trust him on this)

2. Add the sugar, preserves, vanilla bean (or extract) and salt to the hot milk, and keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cover and steep 20 minutes.

3. If you used a vanilla bean, fish out the vanilla pod. Strain the mixture into a bowl to remove any large chunks from the preserves, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes just before churning, stirring occasionally to break up icy or congealed fatty bits (or you can just use an immersion blender to blend them back in right before you churn).

4. Churn the chilled ice cream base until it reaches soft-serve consistency and almost doubles in volume. This took about 15 minutes in my Cuisinart ice cream maker, but everyone’s ice cream maker is different, so start keeping watch at 10 minutes.

5. While your ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate chips and get out your boozy cherries. The chocolate should be cooled to be only slightly warm before it’s used.

To assemble:

1. Get an airtight container to store your ice cream. Add a spoonful of the macerated cherries to the bottom just to ensure that you get plenty of them down to the very last scoop. (you won’t need to drain the cherries, the liquid gets all syrupy in the refrigerator and oozes nicely)

2. Add 1/3 of the ice cream, then layer on 1/3 of the remaining cherries and drizzle melted chocolate over the top. Repeat all layers until all ingredients are used.

3. Freeze ice cream for at least 2 hours before scooping.

bourbon-ice-cream-container

 

Notes:

  1. The original ice cream base recipe called for 2 cups of half and half and 1 cup of heavy cream. However, since half and half is just a 50/50 mixture of milk and cream, and I usually buy cream by the pint anyway, I decided to switch my dairy products so I could just use milk (which I always have on hand) and a full pint of cream. If you usually have half and half in the fridge, feel free to use the original recipe.
  2. Perhaps due to my use of milk and cream rather than the more emulsified half-and-half, I got some fat forming a layer on top of my chilled ice cream base. I just used my immersion blender to blend it back in just before churning, and it turned out fine.
  3. Like I said above, I used apricot preserves for this recipe because I couldn’t find peach. You really can’t taste the preserves at all in the final ice cream– unsurprising, since you’re only using 2 oz. and most jams/preserves use almost as much sugar as fruit by weight. So you’ve only got an ounce or so of actual apricot in the ice cream, which is probably about one apricot’s worth when all is said and done.
  4. Okay, confession time: drizzing chocolate is hard unless it’s really warm and liquidy, which would melt your newly-churned ice cream. I used a spoon and got big globs of chocolate (not a bad thing!) instead. If you’re really committed to having thin strands of chocolate in your ice cream, like stracciatella, try putting your chocolate in a piping bag or plastic bag and snipping off the tip so you can get a fine stream of chocolate. Or go with ganache– no one objects to a big glob of ganache in their ice cream!
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