Rich and creamy with chunks of fresh rum-soaked cherries swirled throughout a custard base, this Rum Cherry Ice Cream is a grown-up twist on a classic.
I covet the arrival of fresh cherries every year. Sweet and juicy, there’s nothing like a bowl of them, enjoyed slowly under the sun on a warm summer afternoon. I cook with them as much as I can before the season ends: cherry clafoutis for dessert, compote for French toast and waffles, and of course: cherry ice cream. In my favorite adults-only version, I fold rum-soaked cherries into a rich and creamy vanilla custard base. Rum Cherry Ice Cream is the perfect way to indulge in a classic summertime treat in a decidedly grown up way.
Ice cream brings me back to my childhood summers; long days in the pool that, more often than not, ended with making root beer floats with my Dad, or a family trip to the local ice cream shop. When making ice cream at home, I tend to prefer French ultra-velvety custard-based recipes to the eggless “Philadelphia style”. (Though, I’d never say “no” to a bowl of homemade ice cream of any variety!) The basic recipe that I use to adapt most of my favorite flavors is Cook’s Illustrated’s Rich Vanilla Ice Cream, which adds light corn syrup to the custard. The corn syrup helps keep the ice cream easy to scoop after freezing and cuts down on the icy mouthfeel that many homemade recipes have. I adjusted the milk/cream/corn syrup proportions of this base to accommodate the fruit, juices, and liquor in my Rum Cherry version.
The number one rule when making ice cream of any style is to make sure that your base (custard, or milk/cream/sugar mixture) is well-chilled before churning. The colder the base, the creamier the final product. In terms of equipment, I’ve used a standard “freezer bowl” ice cream maker for years with good results. The unit pictured here is a compressor model. It’s a recent addition to the Striped Spatula kitchen and we’ve fallen head over heels in love. With a built-in freezer, the bowl does not have to be pre-chilled. The convenience of this translates into ice cream “on demand” and the ability to make multiple flavors back to back with little downtime. In comparing batches from the two models, we’ve also found the compressor to yield a creamier churn. Compressor models are investment pieces and a space commitment on your countertop. But, if you’re someone who makes a lot of ice cream for your family (or yourself!), they’re a special luxury to consider.
If rum isn’t your favorite liquor, others can certainly be substituted. Brandy or bourbon would be classic pairings, kirsch would up the cherry ante, and chambord would bring an underlying berry note. The alcohol will make this ice cream a bit more susceptible to melting, so it’s best to enjoy right away after scooping. But, let’s be real, with a bowl of Rum Cherry Ice Cream in front of you, are you really going to wait that long to dig in? I’m not!
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