Local cherries are on right now and they are as delicious as ever. We could eat them (and we do) by the pound. Besides homemade cherry pie, my husband likes them churned into ice cream.
I often have a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep. My mind simply won't turn off so I can drift off into Sleepyland. It's constantly whirring with all of the things I have to do or need to do and haven't done. I think about upcoming projects and or things that are worrying me. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just didn't try to sleep at all! Too bad my body disagrees with me on that. :)
My solution, rather than counting sheep, is to think up recipes. This often includes ice cream flavor combos. I think my poor husband gets tired of me pestering him with my different ideas. He likes to read to unwind before bed.
Now to be fair, this recipe wasn't a totally original idea. I actually think we bought a similar, almond ice cream with marzipan chunks from Ben & Jerry's. I just took it a little further by adding the chocolate and fresh, poached cherries. We're all about almonds, cherries and chocolate around these parts. (The recipe and tips can be found after the jump!)
Occasionally my family gets burned out from homemade ice cream. (I know.) But this one disappeared in a matter of 24-48 hours. The chewy chunks of marzipan made it extra fun. Who doesn't like to dig out the goodies? I know I do. Lucky for us, this ice cream is almost half goodies and half ice cream. Win!
The ice cream itself gets its flavor from chopped almonds that steep in the hot milk. Fresh cherries are poached in a flavorful, sweet syrup. This way they don't freeze too hard and break your teeth when you take a bite. The same goes for the chocolate. Adding a little butter helps keep it from becoming hard when frozen. It melts nicely on your tongue as you savor each spoonful. Under the recipe, I've included ideas for using the leftover syrup, as well as some variations that I think would be fabulous.
Marzipan can usually be found in the baking section of most grocery stores. I also picked some up at IKEA last year that was perfect for this recipe. If you're gluten-free, check to make sure the marzipan isn't made with syrup made from wheat. Odense isn't gluten-free. But you can find other brands online and in specialty stores that are.
Almond Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Creamoriginal recipe
For cherries:1/2 lb. fresh cherries, pitted (or more if you want a lot of cherries)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. amaretto syrup (like Torani, or use 2 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur or kirsch)
For chocolate chunks:1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. butter
For almond ice cream base:1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
2 cups whole or low-fat milk (not skim)
4-6 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
6 oz. marzipan, cut into small chunks (optional, but really good)
For cherries:Combine cherries, sugar, water and amaretto syrup. Bring to a boil and cook until the cherries soften and the liquid turns into a syrup. Remove from heat and scoop cherries into a clean bowl using a slotted spoon. Reserve the syrup for another use. (See below.) Cover and chill until ready to add to ice cream base.
For chocolate chunks:Melt chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power, or in a bain marie (a bowl set over a pan of simmering water). Pour onto a large round plate or cookie sheet. Place into freezer to harden. When the chocolate is set, use a very thin spatula to scrape along the surface to form curls or shards. Freeze until ready to add to the ice cream.
For almond ice cream base:Place almonds and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let steep for several hours. Reheat until very hot, but not boiling.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and pinch of salt until very thick and light in color. Pour a little of the hot milk through a fine mesh sieve into the egg/sugar mixture and whisk well. Repeat with remaining hot milk and press the almonds to extract as much of the liquid (and flavor) as possible. (Reserve the almonds for another use. See below for suggestions.)
Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the custard thickens and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer. Pour through custard through the same fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
Add the cold cream to the custard and whisk well. Add the vanilla or almond extract, if using. Let cool to room temperature, cover and place in refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.
When ice cream base has finished churning, transfer 1/4 of the ice cream to a freezer-proof bowl or ice cream pan. (I like to use a bread pan lined with waxed paper.) Layer 1/3 of the cherries, 1/3 of the chocolate and 1/3 of the chopped marzipan over the ice cream. Top with another 1/4 of the ice cream and repeat with the remaining cherries, chocolate and marzipan, finishing with the last 1/4 of the ice cream. Press waxed paper against the surface and place in freezer to harden before serving.
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (slightly more if you count the cherries, chocolate chunks, and marzipan)
*Leave out the chocolate and use diced peaches.
*Use slightly underripe apricots or dried apricots in place of the cherries.
*Substitute other kinds of chocolate, including white chocolate
*Substitute blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries for the cherries.
*Leave out the marzipan and swap out the chopped almonds for pecans or walnuts.
Ideas for using the cherry syrup and leftover almonds:
*Stir the chopped almonds into oatmeal
*Add chopped almonds to pancake or waffle batters, cookie dough, cakes, or other desserts.
*Add to a smoothie
*Use the cherry syrup to flavor lemonade or limeade, lemon-lime soda or sparkling water, or to a cocktail
*Pour over ice cream, pancakes or waffles, or oatmeal
*Use again to poach more cherries
Need some tips on making homemade ice cream? Check out my Making Homemade Ice Cream 101 post. You can find all of my delicious ice cream recipes here.
Other cherry chocolate recipes you might like:
Black Forest Cake (I just made this again last week!)
Black Forest Torte
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