No offense, cake, but in my heart of hearts, I’m an ice cream gal. My ice cream fanaticism probably started with trips to Thrifty’s on hot summer days when my mom would treat my then-pint-sized self to a scoop of rainbow sherbet and my younger sister Kate to a scoop of strawberry or chocolate something-or-another ice cream. No sharing required.
And sometimes during those ice cream indulgences, my mom would even give me a dime – though it’s probably several quarters, nowadays – to get one of those sticky hand toys out of the mini vending machines at the drug store, which I could then use to amuse myself – and annoy my silly little sister – for hours after the ice cream had disappeared because, clearly, her forehead was meant to be a target.
My love for ice cream was so deep at such a young, innocent age that shameless adults could leverage the frozen treat as a bribing mechanism. Just ask my Uncle Bill.
As a child, I initially found Uncle Bill entirely frightening. During some of his first attempts to win me over with crazy stories about a wide-mouthed frog, I realized that he had a tongue that seemed as long as a snake’s, a mouth that opened as wide as a bear’s, and a laugh that was incredibly loud and, at times, spookily reminiscent of a witch’s cackle. Back then, I was into the pleasantries that are fairies and Alice in Wonderland (Alice and I shared the same hairstyle). So this Uncle Bill character was not for me …
… Until one day, when my mother betrayed my infatuation with a certain cold, creamy dessert. And just as adults are apt to do when trying to win the love of a sweet child, he pulled out all the stops to get this little Alice in Wonderland lookalike to adore him.
There he sat, perched upon a chair, with a giant bowl full of heaping scoops of ice cream sitting on his lap. “Come here, little girl …” And, as you might have expected, it worked like a charm.
(Side note: After one too many glasses of bourbon with my family about a year and a half ago, I tried to reenact the simple beauty of that moment; not so charming. Disturbing, in fact.)
I can’t remember what ice cream he served me on that momentous occasion, but had it been this Chocolate Chip-Coconut Ice Cream with Roasted Cherries, I might have fancied him my very own fairytale prince and ridden off on his white horse into Never Never Land to live happily ever after, rather than just snarfing down the frozen concoction and playing nice for the rest of the afternoon.
This Philadelphia-style ice cream comes together quickly and easily because no eggs are involved, so no custard making is needed. Rather, coconut milk and cream are churned together until they become the texture of soft serve. Then, roasted cherries are folded in. After the mixture firms up a bit more in the freezer, melted chocolate is drizzled over the top and hardens upon contact with the cold, creamy coconut ice cream. The thin strips of chocolate are then broken up with a spoon and the super fine chips are dispersed throughout the ice cream.
A coconut milk-infused version of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, but with finer chocolate chips, this ice cream is summery heaven. So go grab some cherries at your farmers market while they’re still available in abundance. And if you have some extra cherries left over, I’d thank you ever so kindly to make me some boozy bourbon cherries.
Chocolate Chip-Coconut Ice Cream with Roasted Cherries (adapted from The Kitchn)
Makes 1 quart
I changed a few things here – added chocolate chips (an excellent decision, if I may say so), got rid of the nutmeg, and roasted my cherries in agave nectar instead of sugar. Next time, I’ll get more adventurous and roast them in liqueur (Maraschino, Grand Marnier, or amaretto) or even soak them in bourbon for a couple days before roasting.
Tips for Do-Aheads and Substitutions: Roasting the cherries keeps them softer in the ice cream (fresh ones freeze into hard little rocks), and the roasting can be done a day ahead. Also, to speed up the freezing process, chill the coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour before you start mixing. I found the coconut flavor to be very subtle, but if you’re not all about the coconut milk, substitute 1 c. of cream (or half-and-half) and 1 c. of whole milk.
1 lb. bing cherries
2 Tbsp. agave nectar, honey, sugar, or liqueur
14-oz. can coconut milk (see substitution in note above)
1 c. heavy cream
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove stems from cherries, then toss cherries with agave nectar, honey, sugar, or liqueur. Roast cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet, stirring several times to make sure they don’t burn. Remove after 15 minutes, and place cherries in refrigerator to speed up the cooling. Pit and halve cooled cherries. Set aside. [I'd recommend prepping, roasting, and pitting the cherries a day in advance if possible; refrigerated cherries can go straight from the refrigerator into your ice cream without melting your ice cream and, therefore, without postponing your enjoyment of the dessert.]
In a large bowl, whisk coconut milk, cream, sweetened condensed milk, and salt until the sweetened condensed milk is thoroughly mixed into the cream.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to your machine’s instructions, running the machine for approximately 25 minutes. (Alternatively, you can pour it into a glass pan, and put it in your freezer, stirring every 30 minutes or so to “churn” the ice cream and mix frozen parts into the unfrozen parts. This will likely take a few hours, although a thinner initial layer of ice cream will make for faster freezing.)
When the mixture appears to have the same texture as soft-serve, scrape it into a glass pan and fold in the roasted pitted cherries. Transfer to a container (again, I recommend a rectangular one over the deep bowl that I used because the depth of the bowl made for very slow freezing). Cover ice cream with plastic wrap (plastic wrap should be in direct contact with the surface of the ice cream). Freeze until of desired firmness, approximately 2 hours.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat once or twice until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir again, and allow the remaining unmelted chocolate chips to melt from the residual heat during the next couple minutes. Drizzle melted chocolate over the frozen surface of the ice cream, and allow to harden for a couple minutes. Using a spoon, break up chocolate and stir into ice cream to distribute small chips throughout the ice cream. Repeat drizzling, hardening, and stirring once or twice more until all chocolate is used up.
Ice cream will keep for a couple months in the freezer if you store it in an airtight container with plastic wrap on the ice cream’s surface. However, the ice cream’s texture might turn icy if not stored correctly or if it sits in the freezer for too long; but not to worry because: (1) it probably won’t last that long anyway, especially during the summer; and (2) even if it does get icy, ice cream-making guru David Lebovitz assures that most egg-less mixtures can be melted down, re-churned, and re-frozen.
Having a small apartment with very limited storage space, I used to think an ice cream machine would be a waste of space. But given my love of ice cream and cooking, a gift card and discount coupon begging for use, the outrageous price of ice cream made with real ingredients (unless you eat it by the gallon; I prefer pints to keep the ice cream fresh and mix up the flavors), and some encouragement from my pal Gabi at Brokeass Gourmet, an ice cream maker finally came to make sense for me.
What do you think? Have you given into the temptation to buy a machine? If so, what convinced you, and do you have any creative solutions for storing the beast? If not, what’s kept you from buying, and have you ever made ice cream at home by “churning” it by hand? What are your favorite ice cream flavors, homemade or not?