OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Chocolate, cherry ice cream christens new maker

Chocolate Cherry Malted Ice Cream (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Chocolate Cherry Malted Ice Cream (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

After almost 20 years of dutiful service, my beloved Cuisinart ice cream maker bit the dust. It was a relatively inexpensive countertop model that could churn a batch of soft serve in about 30 minutes, thanks to a canister that I kept stored in the freezer. After two decades of use the motor strained to rotate the canister and the liquid inside the canister lost its freezing power.

I recently replaced it with a similar model from a different brand. With near 100-degree temperatures in the forecast, it's time to christen the new one.

One of the great things about making ice cream at home is being able to create new flavors. This is one you're not likely to find in the grocery store. The base is chocolate malted milk and it features a cherry swirl. My inspiration was a bag of fresh cherries and some chocolate malted milk powder.

The base is a cooked mixture of milk, heavy cream, chocolate malted milk powder (I used Carnation, but Ovaltine would work too), egg yolks and sugar.

Just a touch of xanthan gum, a polysaccharide made from fermented sugars, helps give the ice cream a smooth and creamy texture by preventing the formation of chunky ice crystals. It isn't essential, but the ice cream will have a better texture if you use it. Look for it on the baking aisle with the gluten-free products.

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Chocolate Cherry Malted Ice Cream

  • 2 cups frozen sweet cherries (juice included) or 3 cups very ripe pitted fresh sweet cherries
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 10 tablespoons sugar, divided use
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup chocolate malted milk powder
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, see note)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste

Freeze the work bowl of an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, lemon juice and ¼ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, until cherries have released their juice and pulp has softened.

Transfer cherry mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a medium-size, heat safe bowl, using the back of a spoon or ladle to push any juice and pulp through; remove any stray pits. Add 4 tablespoons of the sugar to hot liquid and stir until sugar has dissolved. Cover and chill.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the milk, cream and malted milk powder over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

While the milk mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining sugar, xanthan gum and salt in a large heat-proof bowl. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Place a strainer over the saucepan and pour the cream/yolk mixture through it back into the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and cook the base until it thickens slightly.

Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and cool slightly, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface and refrigerate until well chilled.

To freeze: Transfer the chilled base to the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the cherry mixture during the last few moments of churning.

Transfer the ice cream to a container with an airtight lid and freeze for at least 12 hours before serving.

Makes 1 to 1 ½ quarts.

Note: Adding a small amount of xanthan gum — no more than a quarter teaspoon per quart of ice cream — produces a smoother, creamier ice cream by preventing the formation of chunky ice crystals.

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