Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream

Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream

Well, I finally polished off the Fresh Strawberry and Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter ice creams, making lots of room in the freezer for a new flavor. A couple of weeks ago I was thumbing through The Perfect Scoop while sitting with my grandma and she asked what types of ice cream recipes were in the book. I started reading off some of the flavors as I flipped through the pages and as soon as I uttered “toasted almond and candied cherry” she said, “ooooh now that sounds good”. I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Growing up, while the rest of us devoured vanilla, chocolate, and more of the “regular” flavors, my grandma and great aunt always, always wanted white house cherry. From what I can remember, it’s vanilla ice cream with cherries swirled in… there’s potentially more to it than that, but it’s all I can recollect. Oh, and I also remember not liking it. Much like the aversion to strawberry ice cream I had as a kid, the same held true for cherry. No one was battling grandma for the last scoop of that stuff – it was all hers, and she was happy to have it that way. So I knew that this ice cream would be right up her alley.

Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream

Steeping the milk mixture with the chopped almonds gives it such a wonderful, smooth flavor; come to think of it, it’s probably very similar to what almond milk might taste like. The candied cherries are sweet and soft, a perfect complement to the crunchy, roasted flavor of the almonds. And, although I absolutely adored my Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream, I really think that I prefer ice cream with egg yolks used as a custard base. It is infinitely creamier and just has that extra “oomph” that takes ice cream from really good/great to out-of-this-world, let-me-lick-the-entire-bowl-clean fabulous.

As for my grandma’s verdict? She absolutely loved the ice cream. Specifically, she loved all of the almonds.

My grandma with her ice cream cone

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Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

For the Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk

¾ cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream, divided

2 cups whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped, divided

5 large egg yolks

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup Candied Cherries (recipe follows), coarsely chopped


For the Candied Cherries:

1 pound cherries, fresh or frozen

1½ cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 drop almond extract


Directions:

1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Finely chop 1 cup of the almonds and add them to the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.


2. Strain the almond-infused milk into a separate medium saucepan. Press with a spatula or squeeze with your hands to extract as much flavor from the almonds as possible. Discard the almonds.


3. Rewarm the almond-infused milk. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.


4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir in the almond extract and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.


5. To make the Candied Cherries: Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a large, nonreactive saucepan or skillet until the liquid starts to boil.


6. Turn down the heat to a low boil and cook the cherries for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure they are cooking evenly and not sticking.


7. Once the syrup is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat, add the almond extract, and let the cherries cool in their syrup.


8. Drain the cherries in a strainer for about 1 hour, then coarsely chop. Candied Cherries can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


9. Freeze the custard mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the remaining 1 cup chopped almonds. When you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped cherries.


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(Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)


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