First, thank you so much to everyone for the kind thoughts and wishes in my last post. It basically seals the deal that bloggers are the nicest group of folks around!
Now, onto something almost as exciting as babies—a really good ice cream. I’ve eaten a lot of desserts in my lifetime. A LOT. I come from a family where everyone has a sweet tooth and the apple certainly didn’t fall far from the tree. When I eat out at a restaurant, I get dessert as often as humanly possible. And still, despite all the really delicious desserts I’ve had, I really think my favorite of all time might be cheesecake with cherry topping. Nothing over the top or fancy. Just a nice graham cracker crust, a creamy cheesecake layer, and then some sweet cherries in syrup, or, hell, even cherry pie filling, on top. The cherry pie filling variety was the kind I had when I was little and it’s so nostalgic to me and still so good. I don’t eat canned foods much, but I’d be lying if I told you I couldn’t polish off an entire can of cherry pie filling, spoonful by spoonful.
So it’s no surprise that when I was deciding which ice cream would be my first from The Perfect Scoop, I landed on cheesecake. (OK, the fact that it’s not custard-based and therefore a little easier and less time consuming didn’t hurt, either.) While the cheesecake ice cream on its own would have been great, I opted to add some candied cherries to it, since they’re my favorite complement to cheesecake. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for those, too, although I lessened the amount of sugar, since they were already going into a sweet ice cream. Plus, I used frozen cherries which tend to be sweeter (probably because they are frozen at the peak of freshness). I assume the weight measurement for frozen will vary a bit since they don’t have pits, so you may want to increase the amount a tad if you are using fresh.
This ice cream was delicious. Oh, so good. The sour cream made it nice and tangy. Though not quite as rich as custard-based ice cream, it’s still a decadent treat. I’ll definitely be making this again!
Cheesecake Ice Cream with Candied Cherries
Adapted from David Lebovitz/The Perfect Scoop
8 ounces cream cheese (I used lowfat)
1 lemon, preferably unsprayed
1 cup sour cream (I used lowfat)
1/2 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
candied cherries (recipe follows)
Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and add to a blender/food processor. Zest the lemon into the food processor, and then add the sour cream, half-and-half, sugar and salt. Puree until smooth.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker. Before transferring the ice cream to a container to freeze, stir in the candied cherries.
1/2 lb. cherries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
a drop of almond extract.
Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a large, nonreactive saucepan until the liquid starts to boil. Turn down the heat to a low boil and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 to make sure they are cooking evenly and not sticking.
When 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.
Drain the cherries in a strainer for about an hour (reserve the syrup for drizzling on top of the ice cream, or something else). Coarsely chop the drained cherries and fold them into the ice cream as you remove it from the machine.