During my honeymoon in Vancouver, I discovered and fell in love with gelato. A few years later on a trip to Italy, that love affair deepened. What I prefer about Italian gelato is the minimal butterfat that is required to make it. The flavors in gelato are more pronounced because the milkfat doesn’t dull the flavor. Some of you might be thinking, “fat makes everything taste better,” but I’ve never subscribed to the “it’s better with butter” philosophy.
Making gelato at home is possible if you’re willing to invest in a special gelato machine (very expensive and a huge space sucker). For now, I’m using a Cuisinart machine to recreate my gelato experience— trying to achieve intense flavors without leaning heavily on fat and sugar.
The two main ways to make ice cream at home— the egg custard method (too eggy) or heavy cream method (too much fat, not enough flavor)— disappointed me. Fortunately, this Summer I ran across a post (at thekitchn dot com) that introduced me to Jeni Britton, an artisanal ice cream maker in Ohio who shares my aversion to using eggs in ice cream. I found my hero and was finally able to test out one of her recipes this weekend. I also used David Lebovitz’s trick of adding alcohol to the ice cream to make sure it keeps a soft texture and doesn’t crystallize in the freezer. Here’s the closest I’ve come to homemade, soft-textured gelato-like ice cream without a plane ticket to Florence.
sour cherry ice cream
1 1/2 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp + 1 tsp corn starch
1 3/4 cups heavy cream + 1 1/2 2% milk (or 2 cups whole milk + 1 1/4 cups heavy cream)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 24 oz. jar of sour cherries, juice drained and reserved*
1/4 cup reserved sour cherry juice
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 tbsp kirsch
2-3 tbsp chocolate curls (or 3 oz. of chopped bittersweet chocolate chopped into small and thin pieces)
Drain the cherries from the jar, reserving the liquid. Cut 3/4 of the cherries in half and refrigerate until you continue with the recipe. Place the cream cheese in a small bowl and mash with a fork, set aside. Mix the cornstarch and 2 tbsp of half and half (your mixed milk and cream) and set aside.
In a large pot, mix the rest of the milk and cream with the corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. On a simmer, continue stirring for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring this back to a boil. Cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly.
Add the milk mixture to the cream cheese, whisking to incorporate. Add salt, almond extract and 1/4 cup of reserved cherry juice. Let the mixture cool completely over an ice bath or at room temperature. Refrigerate the cooled mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight. While you might be impatient to just put the ice cream into the machine right away, chilling it completely will keep the ice cream from crystallizing (that weird chalky texture) while it’s churning in the machine.
Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the liquid through the strainer. Any cream cheese or solids that haven’t been blended well will remain out and help make your ice cream smooth and creamy. Add the kirsch brandy to the liquid ice cream before pouring into your ice cream maker. Once in the ice cream machine, you can either add the chocolate and sour cherries while it’s mixing, or toward the end. Although the original recipe called for chunks of chocolate (much like a Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, because I wanted to keep the focus on the cherries with the chocolate only as an accent, the thin chocolate curls were my preference.)
Line a glass container (eg: Pyrex) that comes with its own lid using saran wrap (long enough to cover, too) and fill it up with the ice cream and cover it with the saran again before placing the top on. Once you’re ready to serve the ice cream, let it soften at room temperature for about 2 minutes. You’ll know “it’s ready” when you can scoop easily.
*You can use the reserved cherry juice for martinis, sour cherry mimosas, or red wine sangrias.
Originally adapted from Jeni Britton’s ice cream recipes
- chocolate chili cherry cookies
- Out of the frying pan and into the cooler!
- apple tart with walnut ice cream
- chocolate orange pots de creme