Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

National Ice Cream Month ended yesterday, and unfortunately, I just couldn’t get this post up in time.  So today, we’re going to pretend it’s not the first day of August (maybe I’m alone, but I am not ready for summer to be creeping closer to an end anyway) and celebrate the close of National Ice Cream Month with cherry chocolate chip ice cream.  Sound good? :)  We started the month off with mint oreo ice cream before moving on to strawberry daiquiri ice cream then chocolate peppermint sorbet and to be honest, I had a different recipe in mind for the finale, but my plans changed when I saw this cherry ice cream on my friend Mary Ann’s blog last Friday.  Fresh cherries are most readily available here in the northeast in July, so I’ve been buying a ton of them.  When I’ve eaten as many as I can, I bake and/or cook with the remainder.  But ice cream?  I’ve never considered that possibility, and as soon as I saw it, I needed to try it.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice  Cream

So, first thing Saturday morning I was in my kitchen whipping up the base for this cherry chocolate chip ice cream.  It’s not a custard-based ice cream (meaning there are no eggs) so it comes together pretty easily.  Personally, I don’t have a strong preference when it comes to homemade ice cream made with or without a custard base.  Those made with a custard base are generally thought to be richer and smoother, but I rarely notice a big difference.  They’re all good in my book, and this one was no exception.  I loved the gorgeous pinkish-purple color and the fresh cherry flavor.  Cherries and almonds are one of my new favorite flavor combos so I couldn’t resist adding a bit of almond extract to the base before churning – it’s present but not overpowering in the final product.  I just might be ready to declare cherry my new favorite fruit flavored ice cream!  If you can still get your hands on fresh cherries where you live, this one is definitely worth a try.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
adapted slightly from Simply Recipes

(The original recipe called for liquor rather than almond extract.  If I’d had Amaretto on hand, I probably would have used it, but I didn’t.  Even without the liquor, my ice cream didn’t get super hard – it was definitely scoopable straight from the freezer.)

3/4 lb ripe sweet cherries, pitted
3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Combine the cherries, milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the milk/cream mixture is warm. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until completely smooth. (Alternatively, you could transfer the mixture to your blender to puree it.)

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, pressing on the solids. Add the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (preferably overnight).

Stir in the lemon juice and almond extract then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream reaches soft serve consistency, add the chocolate chips and churn for another minute or two until they are evenly distributed. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and freeze until firm.