The best thing about summer is the heat. Scorching blue skies that beg for generous helpings of cool, refreshing ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. While I know people who believe ice cream is a necessity all year round, I think that it would not be a stretch to suggest that it makes its strongest argument for existence during the hot summer months.
I recently suffered my first sunburn of the season, and subsequently have been tirelessly searching for a ice cream recipe to make. The search for the perfect recipe was as exciting as it was terrifying. Salted butter caramel ice cream sounded equally delicious as it did deadly. Overtly healthy recipes were also a nonstarter - ice cream is supposed to be a treat. I was surprised to find a recipe in the ice cream section of Gourmet Today, for cherry gelato that called for a relatively small amount heart-stopping fats (it uses whole milk instead of 2 cups of cream, plus lots rich egg yolks that every other recipe seems to rely on). Gourmet recipes by and large utilize butter and cream with delicious, if somewhat reckless abandon, so I trust that when one of their recipes uses lighter ingredients it is not due to a fear of fat.
Plus cherries are so delicious. Now that I think about it - aren't the juicy-ripe fruits the best thing about summer?
Luckily, this recipe combines the two best things about summer, fruit and ice-y treats. The result is sweet and satisfying, with the added bonus that it will not seriously compromise your health, and subsequently your enjoyment of the beautiful weather. What more can you ask for? Actually, I have one tiny little suggestion: chocolate. I think that the addition of a little chocolate (some chips or sauce) would be very good.
From Gourmet Today
1/2 vanilla bean*
3 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, such as sugar in the raw
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 lb (1 1/2 cups) fresh bing cherries (pitted)
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Special equipment: Ice cream maker (remember to chill beforehand it if necessary)
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan. Add the milk and salt and bring just to a boil; remove from heat.
Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, add 1/2 cup hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, whisking until smooth, and whisk into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, whisking, and simmer, whisking, for three minutes.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Refrigerate, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cool, about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate until very cold, 3-6 hours.
Meanwhile, pulse the cherries with sugar and extracts in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour.
Once everything is thoroughly chilled, stir the cherries, with their juices into the gelato base. Freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer gelato to an airtight container and put in the freezer to harden for at least 2 hours.
*I spent my discretionary funds buying almond extract, so I cheaped out on the vanilla bean and just doubled the amount of vanilla extract.