Well, you've caught me red-handed. Not two weeks after I confessed my inclination toward only the purest of ice cream flavors when making it at home, I've gone stir crazy. First, I went nuts on vanilla by adding drizzles of chocolate; then I made maple ice cream (which, alas, was devoured before I could even get out my camera, but I'll pass along the recipe at the bottom of this post for interested souls). Now I'm really pulling out the big guns. Cherry Pit Ice Cream? What exactly was I thinking?
I'll tell you what. I was thinking that I've been reading about cherry pit ice cream since last year, and the strangeness, the sheer absurdity, piqued my curiosity and eventually won me over. People say it's the best flavor of ice cream they've ever tasted, and all it is is milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and crushed cherry pits. Tell me you're not curious! Who even knows what a cherry pit innard tastes like?
I had to know, and I had to know by steeping a bunch of them in a hell of a lot of organic milk and cream and farmers' market eggs (which, as we've already discussed, are quite the investment). Ten buckaroos later, I'm not waxing poetic like this here Bloggerette, whose cherry pit love-song tends toward the PG13 (gulp!). But I am pretty intrigued. Cherry pit ice cream has the best qualities of almond flavored things -- that is to say, a smooth, nutty, toasty, yet green and somewhat woodsy flavor, with great fragrance -- but none of the bad qualities, which is to say, it tastes nothing like almond extract. Thank heavens. That said, I did find it to be a bit on the bland side, but this is probably my fault -- I used a smaller quantity of pits than the recipe called for, because I can't eat cherries that quickly. But I did alleviate some of the blandness with a new trick from David Lebovitz, and I'm IN LOVE with it: caramelized white chocolate, which actually bears strong resemblance to crack. Oh man, it is so freakin' good. I won't go through the steps of making it -- just see the link to David's blog for all the instructions. Then do yourself a favor and make it.
Cherry Pit Ice Cream adapted from Eggbeater
1 Cup Whole Milk 2 Cup Heavy Cream 3/4 Cup Sugar 5 Large Egg Yolks 1 - 1 1/2 Cups Smashed Cherry Pits
Heat milk, cream, pits, and half the sugar, in that order, in heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan over low to medium heat. When hot to the touch, shut off heat, whisk and let steep 1-2 hours, tasting every 30 minutes.
When hot dairy tastes as strong as you'd like it (remembering that it will taste stronger in flavor and sweetness when it's hot), pass through a fine meshed sieve, pressing on the solids to press out as much of the liquid as you can.
Whisk together the egg yolks in a separate bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk into the yolks, stirring constantly as you pour. Once all the milk is in the bowl with the yolks, pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-proof spatula (I used a wooden spoon), until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spatula. Strain the custard into a large bowl and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
Caramelized White Chocolate From David Lebovitz About one cup (250ml)
The idea behind this recipe is that, when you cook white chocolate over a low heat for a long period of time, stirring all the while, the white chocolate will begin to caramelize; its color darkens and its flavor takes on a deeper, nuttier quality. You must, however, be very careful about overcooking; I did a test run with just a couple bits of white chocolate, and before I knew it, they were dark brown and grainy. Be sure to check every ten minutes -- even every 8, to be safe -- and when you remove the pan from the oven to stir, make sure you scrape around the edges of the pan to really incorporate those straggling bits into the greater mass. David says that if you overcook the chocolate and it takes on that grainy quality, you can press it through a fine mesh sieve and it'll be just fine -- but I ate mine, right off the pan, and it was still pretty delicious.
12 ounces (340gr) white chocolate, a block or in fêves (as shown) pinch of flaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 250F (120 C)
1. If the white chocolate is in a block, chop it into coarse pieces.
2. Distribute the white chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for ten minutes.
3. Remove it from the oven and spread it with a clean, dry spatula, making sure to incorporate those bits at the edges and to really fold the chocolate over itself several times.
4. Continue to cook for and additional 40-60 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals. At times it will lump together and appear to harden, or lose its sheen and look lumpy (as mine did), but that's ok -- just keep stirring it and folding it together and it'll smooth out in the end.
5. Cook until the white chocolate is deep-golden brown, and caramelized. Stir in a good pinch of sea salt.
David recommends using an immersion blender if the chocolate is lumpy. I wonder if this would make whipped white chocolate, an interesting concept...
Store in a jar, at room temperature, until ready to use. It should keep for several months, if stored in a cool, dry place.