Next time I go to the Farmers’ Market, stuff wax in my ears and lash me to the shopping cart. Cherries are the Sirens of the fruit world and I can’t resist them unaided.
Last week, I ventured forth on a mission to buy easy-to-hull strawberries or slice-and-go nectarines. And there, perched amidst the puny currants and stubble-haired raspberries were the temptress cherries. Their cheeks shone in the sunlight. Their upright stems dared me to pluck one as I wandered past. Although they had no voice, I heard their call clearly — and fell for their treacherous charms.
Unlike the sailors of Greek mythology, I was not dashed upon the rocks. However, just like Ulysses, I was driven temporarily insane. I bought not one, but two baskets.
Once home, my head cleared. Pleased with my purchase I began to pit the cherries. The pits landed at the bottom of my stainless steel bowl with a satisfying “ping.” But these beauties are not as innocent as they look. Within minutes, my kitchen looked like a reenactment from Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. Unable to face pitting a single pint, let alone the two I had been tricked into buying, I ate one cherry. Two. Three.
When their sweet, cherry goodness hit my tongue the temporary insanity returned, and I fell under their spell yet again.
But Sirens are also Muses of the Lower World. The bright red fruit inspired me. I would make an irresistable dessert with tiny bits of siren-cherries floating in a sea of vanilla ice cream.
And what’s a seascape without driftwood? Enter the chocolate flotsom.
Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Crackles emerged from the chaos.
Pitting cherries. Piping chocolate. Churning ice cream. Why not just drive to Ben & Jerry’s?
Because this fruit can make you do crazy things. Delicious, time-consuming, soul-satisfying things — providing you’re the kind of person who can hear cherries sing. And you know I am.
- 1 large vanilla bean
- 2 cups heavy cream (35%)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- ⅔ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups pitted & quartered sweet cherries
- 4oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- Infuse the cream: Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds. Place the pod, seeds, cream and milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and heat the mixture until bubbles form around the edge of the pot. Don't let the mixture boil. Turn off the heat, cover, let steep for 20 minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and rewarm the mixture over medium heat.
- Make the custard: In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla bean paste together until smooth. Pouring in a slow, steady stream, whisk 1 ladle of hot cream mixture into the yolks. Add a second ladle of hot cream, whisking all the time. Whisk the warmed yolks into the pot of cream and cook over medium-high until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Allow the custard to cool. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until cold.
- Freeze the cherry pieces: Spread the cherry pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment. Don't let the pieces overlap. Cover and place in the freezer until you're ready to churn the ice cream.
- Make the chocolate crackle: Line a pan with parchment and set aside. Melt the chocolate either in a heat proof pan over simmering water or in the microwave in 30-second bursts. Using a parchment cone or a small plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped, pipe ¼-inch wide lines of melted chocolate onto the parchment. Refrigerate until hardened and then snap the chocolate into 1- to 2-inch lengths.
- Churn the ice cream: About 20 minutes before you're ready to churn the ice cream, place the custard in the freezer to get extra cold. Don't allow it to freeze. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. About 10 minutes before the ice cream is finished, churn in the cherries. When they are churned in, add the chocolate crackle pieces. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and chill until firm.