My day started off with me standing in our front yard by the half-pruned, skuzzy-looking apple tree with my camera around my neck, waiting to snap a picture of our phantom speed demon that terrorizes us most mornings at 7:13. I’ve never seen him, that’s how fast the dude (or dudette) is. Disappointingly enough, he didn’t show this morning, but I’m one tough cookie—I’ll try again tomorrow.
Not that I have any idea what I’ll do with the picture once I take it. Perhaps I’ll call the license number in to the cops, or maybe I’ll see that it’s the granny that lives down the road and thus reduce the fear/anger element. If that’s the case, I might get bold, flag her down, and have a pleasant little chat about whether or not she has any grandbabies and how she’d feel if they got squashed flat by some nincompoop.
As the sun rose, the kids trickled downstairs. The Baby Nickel was first.
He perched on a stool and read books—first short stories by Flannery O’Connor followed by The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz—while eating toast.
After the flurry of last week’s cleaning, I resolved to do more deep cleaning on a regular basis. I also committed to broadening my kids’ chore repertoires. So this morning, I hounded Miss Beccaboo on proper porch-sweeping etiquette, and I divided out the green bean snapping amongst the four sets of hands, mine not included. (Our bean crop is piddly-puny, thanks to that nasty drought.)
I instructed The Baby Nickel in the art of dusting baseboards, Yo-Yo the piano, and Sweetsie the chairs. I included The Baby Nickel when I doled out the laundry, giving him his own little pile of socks, undies, and hankies to hang.
As for me, I washed windows and stairs, dusted some embarrassingly infrequently dusted furniture, and blanched the beans.
While the kids ate their lunch of leftover chicken-corn-and-noodle soup, I snapped photos of my new favorite ice cream, scarfing bites in between camera clicks.
This stuff rocks, people. Like totally.
Since I got my electric ice cream maker, I have made more ice creams than I can count; at present, four different kinds reside in my freezer. While I’ve discovered some impressive recipes, I’ve made even more only so-so ice creams. Either I’m picky or I’m doing something wrong or a good recipe is hard to come by. (I like to think it’s the latter, or perhaps the former, but definitely not the middler.)
But this ice cream, wow. This ice cream is staying with me for life. The only problem is that it involves sweet cherries and I did not pick any sweet cherries when I went to the orchard, preferring instead to stuff my jars with the sour variety. So, I had to buy fresh sweet cherries from the grocery store, an excessive act (nine bucks for three pounds—ouch!) that was redeemed with the first bite of ice cream. (I have also made this with the cherries. It made me weak-kneed.)
This recipe taught me two new things:
1. How to roast cherries.
It’s simple, really. Toss the unpitted fruits with equal parts sugar and bourbon and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Shazam!
2. How to get tender chocolate crunchies into homemade ice cream.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like chocolate chips in my ice cream. They create too much of a texture contrast—rock-hard crunch versus smooth cream. It hurts. Chopped-fine bar chocolate has the same painful result. Chopped candy bars, while softer, leave a waxy taste. But I have, once and for all, solved the chocolate-in-ice cream problem. Simply melt bar chocolate and then drizzle it in slowly during the last minute or two of churning. The chocolate freezes up and breaks into little, melt-in-your-mouth shards. Perfect.
My ice cream maker has an open top which enables sneak tasting, an art of which I am master. However, my mother was here while the ice cream was churning and she put me to shame. Every time I turned around, there she was, spoon in hand, a guilty look on her face. (My mother might possibly be the queen of ice cream. She recently purchased and ate 17 boxes of the stuff, though, I’m sure she’d like me to add, not all by herself.)
Roasted Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate
Adapted from The Craving Chronicles
This makes a large amount and maxed out my ice cream maker. Unless you have a larger machine or don’t mind a mess, don’t skip the strange steps at the end of the churning process.
The bourbon is said to be optional but I beg to differ.
40 sweet cherries (or a few less), stems removed, washed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
5 ounces 60% bar chocolate (not chips), chopped
For the cherries:
Toss the cherries, unpitted, with the 2 tablespoons sugar and bourbon and lay them out in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes till bubbly and soft, stirring gently every few minutes. Keep a close eye on them so that the sugar doesn’t burn.
Once the cherries have cooled to room temperature, pit and quarter each cherry. Chill the cherries in their juices.
For the ice cream:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk, 1 cup of the cream, the salt, the 3/4 cup sugar, and the vanilla bean (both the bean and the scraped-out seeds) till warm. (I accidentally boiled mine most vigorously for about 15 minutes while I wandered the house watering plants and talking on the phone and it didn’t hurt it a wink. Not that I recommend my methods. I’m just saying.) Lid and steep for 30 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks. Add some of the warm cream, whisking steadily, to temper the eggs. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking away all the while, till the mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon.
Pour the custard through a strainer into a larger bowl. (Rinse off the vanilla bean, dry, and add it to a canister of sugar for vanilla sugar.) Add the other cup of cream. Chill the custard in the fridge.
Pour the custard into your ice cream maker and churn.
While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate in the microwave. Then, heat it a little more till it is runny melted. You need to be able to pour the chocolate in a thin stream, and to do that the chocolate has to be hot.
Once the ice cream has finished churning, slowly drizzle the chocolate through the hole in the top. Then, stop the machine and remove an ample cup of ice cream.
Start the machine up again and add the cherries—the juices make the ice cream base blush up real purdy. Once the cherries are incorporated, turn the machine off and package the ice cream into freezer boxes (gently stirring in the ice cream that you removed) and freeze till solid.
Yield: About 1 ½ quarts of heaven.
Confession: In the course of writing this blog post, I opened the freezer not once, not twice, but three times. I wasn’t just looking, either.