Each spring, I eagerly await the appearance of Bing Cherries in our grocery store and I prowl the produce aisles waiting to see the stacks of glossy red fruit. Why? Because my father-in-law loves Bing Cherry Ice Cream, and I try to make it for him on Father's Day each year.
Up until this past week, I used to pit the cherries by hand, with a paring knife - but this year, I caved, and bought an Oxo Cherry pitter. I cannot believe how much faster I was able to pit the cherries! (FYI - This very inexpensive pitter is the bomb!)
When choosing Bing cherries, make sure you select large, smooth, plump, dark cherries; the darker the cherry, the sweeter it is. And try not to pick any that are hard; cherries will not ripen further once they've been picked!
BING CHERRY ICE CREAM
Makes approximately 1 quart.
* 1/2 cup water
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 2 cups fresh Bing Cherries, washed, stemmed, pitted and halved
* 6 ounces cream cheese*, room temperature
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
*Do NOT try to substitute Neufchâtel, or fat-free, cream cheese in this recipe. The ice cream will never set up properly. Trust me, I ruined a whole batch when I did this!
Step 1: In a small saucepan, on medium heat, combine water, 3/4 cup of sugar and cherries. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
Step 2: Remove cherries from heat and let cherries steep for 30 minutes. Drain the cherries and discard the syrup. (FYI - You can also save the syrup for mixed drinks -- as you've just created a "simple syrup".)
Step 3: Transfer the cherries to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
Step 4: In a food processor, process the cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Step 5: Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally to help dissolve sugar, until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Step 6: Slowly add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the cream cheese and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining milk mixture and process 30 seconds more. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
Step 7: Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. (Or, you can create an ice water bath as seen in my Watermelon Ice Cream recipe.)
Transfer the ice cream mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. When nearly frozen, add the cherries. Churn until just mixed. Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours before serving.
Thanks for reading,
*This is an old Williams-Sonoma recipe, from the Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream, by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuester, 2003).