Monday, July 13, 2009

Cherry Garcia

I should preface this slightly with a note about my ice cream maker. Mine is such that it is essentially a pre-frozen bowl which is used, rather than the ice and salt or anything subsequently stuck in the freezer. So my method may be a touch different from your own.

You will need:
1. ~1 cup bing cherries, halved and pitted.
2. 1/2 bar dark chocolate.
3. 1 cup milk
4. 2 cups heavy cream
5. 3/4 cup sugar
6. 2 large eggs.

First things first. Make sure all your dairy ingredients are chilled, as well as eggs and such. So, first step is to slice open the cherries and pitt them. Do you have a fancy cherry pitter? Good for you! I, alas, do not. I used a knife and just dug out the pits with my thumbnail. Bing cherries were on sale. It was $2 for a pound of them, so I bought a pound and decided to be picky and select my way through them, using only the choice and firm cherries for the ice cream. I got roughly a cup or so worth of halves.

Now, here is an alternative you may wish to consider. I did NOT use this alternative but I am mentioning it nonetheless. Halfing the cherries is nice for texture and flavor. However, there's not a whole lot of surface area exposed to the cream. You may want to slice them a little thinner. It might also be worthwhile to take a few extra cherries and simply crush them (or slice them thinly, then crush them) to collect the juice. The reason? The end result has a fairly delicate cherry flavor- but then, cherry garcia actually doesn't have a strong cherry flavor either. It's up to you. Try a batch, see if you like it, adjust accordingly.

Cover the cherries and stick them in the fridge.

I bought a bar of Hershey's All Natural Extra Dark, made from 60% cocoa. It costs about as much as a regular chocolate bar. You don't need to get anything too fancy, but you want some nice dark chocolate. Now this is important. High cocoa percentage means it will melt very readily, so hold the bar fairly lightly with the bar in the foil as much as possible. Make sure your kitchen isn't too warm. With a knife, shave off about half the bar. I alternated between scraping and shaving, getting nice little curls and the like. Don't hack off chunks but don't worry too much if it seems a little thick- it will be breaking up and such. As soon as you are done, cover the bowl and shove it into the fridge. If you were anything like me, now if the time to wash your hand off.

Do not bother to set up your stove top. Nothing is getting heated. Why not? Because that chocolate will simply melt into the milk and be done with. But the whole point is to have these little delicate flakes of chocolate. Does that mean that the ice cream will have raw eggs in it? Yes. Deal with it. So.

Crack open the two eggs, and whisk them until they become light and fluffy- 1-2 minutes. Then slowly add the sugar- I added it 1/4 cup at a time, whisked until dissolved, then added a bit more. You want to keep whisking until it gets fairly thick. Will all of the sugar dissolve? Likely not- but whisk it a couple of minutes anyway to dissolve as much as possible.

To this, add your cup of milk, whisk it, then your two cups of cream, and whisk again. If everything was properly cold, dump your cherries and chocolate in. Whisk the cherries and chocolate in with a few strokes- you don't want the cream mix warming too much and melting the chocolate, and you don't wan tot break up the chocolate if you can help it. Stick the mixture into the fridge for a good hour or two. From here, follow instructions accordingly for your ice cream maker. The shot below was taken VERY quickly as I was giving it a quick stir before I shoved the bowl, covered, back into the fridge.

Thoughts. You may be able to add the chocolate to the ice cream as it stirs and freezes. I didn't because I worry about it breaking up, and a little bit of the chocolate going into the cream might be nice. The couple of hours allows the cherries to flavor the cream a bit. however, if you tried the alternative above, then pour the cherry juice in with the cherries.

This is a delicious home-made version of cherry garcia- one of my absolute favorite ice creams. Let me know what you think. I'd also take some suggestions as to what to do with the greater portion of a pound of cherries.

Edit: I made this again this weekend and I used even more cherries, this time taking out a number and squishing them by hand and pouring the juice and the flesh into the ice cream. The result was a nice purple ice cream with a much more pronounced cherry flavor. I also, for the fuck of it, added about a teaspoon of almond extract. Its the kind of thing that gives a nice background flavor that the other flavors springboard off of. You may not notice the taste, but you notice its disappearance.