As seems to be the case with a lot of completely delicious foods, I came late to cherries. Maybe I had a bad maraschino experience somewhere in there (I maintain that those are not cherries), but for years I swore off the fruit entirely. My mother thought I was crazy, and now that I also know how wonderful the cherry is, I think I must have been crazy too.
Cherries dole out a lot of tough love, though. They're sweet and juicy and completely addictive, but of course if you eat too many of them... well. It ain't pretty. So when I walked by my Wednesday Greenmarket last week and saw that it was brimming with pints of cherries, I thought I was in some serious trouble.
Then it occurred to me. There is a way to eat all these cherries with some restraint: surround them with heavy cream and sugar and chocolate, and you'll feel a little guiltier about shoveling them all into your face in one afternoon. Maybe.
If you're like me and enjoy getting all kinds of messy in the kitchen, half the fun of this recipe is pitting the cherries, which gets dark red juice all over your clothes, hands, counter tops, and on occasion maybe your floor and your pet. I'm just saying.
Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
4 c. whole cherries, washed and pitted
1/3 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. milk
2 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. almond extract
1 3.5-oz. dark chocolate bar, broken into small pieces
In a medium bowl, crush cherries with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar on high until thick and cream-colored, roughly 6 minutes. Add milk, cream, and almond extract and stir until blended.
Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Roughly half way through freezing, add cherries and all their liquid, as well as the chocolate chunks. When finished, transfer ice cream to an airtight container and press with a spoon to work out any air bubbles. Cover surface with waxed paper and seal.
Note: You can certainly opt for pre-fab chocolate chunks if you don't feel like pulverizing a chocolate bar, but I personally find it very gratifying to wield a mallet. The different sized chunks also give the ice cream a little more character. Just put your still-wrapped bar inside the folds of a dishtowel and wail on it until the pieces are as small as you'd like.