Happy fourth of July, everyone! It’s lovely to celebrate Independence Day and get an extra-long weekend, don’t you think? I don’t know what you guys were up to this weekend, but I have spent the past three days laying in the sun, playing lazy boardgames with the fam, and enjoying all of the things that I can’t do in New York: swim, grill, lay around on the grass, the works.
Oh yeah. And ice cream. I’ve been making and eating lots of ice cream.
Cherry bourbon ice cream, to be exact. It’s slightly tangy, summer-sun-sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with lazy hot nights. You know what I’m talking about– those types of evenings when the sun has just set and you can feel that the heat of the day is waning, but still lingering, where you sit outside with people you love, trading stories and laughter as the light fades. Sometimes, if the night is really good, you don’t even notice the mosquitoes. Those are the kind of nights this ice cream evokes– those nights you’re almost taken back to being a kid, when summer was an endless stretch of hot, fun days and a little cherry juice dribbling down your chin was par for the course. This ice cream is sort of like that, but better if only because you are an adult now, and cherry bourbon ice cream is not the type of thing your mom would have let you make.
Right– the bourbon. To be completely honest, I am not sure whether I am a fan of straight-up bourbon. I can tell you, though, that it is perfect for this ice cream. It compliments the dark sweetness of the cherries and adds just a hint of a lovely, boozy, slightly sweet woody flavor, and it elevates this ice cream from a kiddie treat to a sophisticated and trendy adult hit.* And I think we all know that the summer could use more of those.
Cherry Bourbon Ice Cream
For the ice cream base
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
A pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
For the cherry mixture
1 1/2 cups pitted cherries, halved
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-2 tablespoons bourbon
Combine the heavy cream, whole milk, 1/4 cup sugar, kosher salt, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to just a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar.
While the cream mixture is heating, whisk 5 large egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture turns pale– this should take about two minutes.
Once the cream mixture is simmering, reduce the heat to low. Temper the eggs by adding about a half cup of the cream mixture very slowly to the egg bowl, making sure to whisk the eggs continuously as you add the cream. Then, slowly add the warmed eggs back into the remaining cream mixture, continuing to whisk throughout the process. Cook the liquid over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon– this should take about two to three minutes.
Set the saucepan over ice water and chill until it is cool to the touch, stirring occasionally to speed up the process. Once the liquid is cool, process it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream should take about thirty minutes to churn.
While the machine is chugging along, prepare the cherry syrup. Pit and halve the cherries and add them to a saucepan with the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy (about 8-10 minutes).
If you are worried about having alcohol in the ice cream, add the bourbon to the mixture while it is cooking. Otherwise, remove the syrup from the heat before stirring the bourbon in. Bon Appetit called for 1 tablespoon of bourbon, but my taste-testers and I agreed that it could have used more of a bourbon flavor– I would recommend upping the amount involved in the ice cream, but am not sure how this will affect the ice cream from freezing. Feel free to experiment, but proceed with caution!
Fold the cherry mixture into your finished vanilla ice cream– you do not want to stir it fully, since that will turn your ice cream pink instead of leaving those nice cherry streaks. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least four hours before serving.
*Okay, okay, don’t let the “adult hit” thing scare you into keeping this from your kids (unless, of course, you want to keep it for yourself!). If you are worried about the alcohol content, feel free to continue cooking the cherries for a bit after adding the bourbon– this will boil the alcohol off while still allowing the ice cream to have that bourbon flavor.