One thing led to another, the chocolate chunks that appear in classic Cherry Garcia were omitted, and a balsamic vinegar reduction somehow found its way into the mix. I'm not sorry.
I AM sorry, though, that the tanginess of the balsamic, while very present in the puree, did not shine through in the final ice cream. I haven't had a chance to make the ice cream again (the leftovers from these photos are still hanging out in my freezer!) so balsamic-roasted cherries will have to wait for another day.
I will say that the half and half coconut/almond option is a good one to choose if you're not a huge fan of ice cream with a heavily present coconut flavor. These photos are of that combination, and while you can slightly see how the texture is affected, the flavor remains tasty as can be - you can't judge a book by its cover and blah blah blah. Just make the ice cream.
ROASTED CHERRY SWIRLED ICE CREAM
Ice cream base
2 15 oz. cans full fat coconut milk (see notes)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (see notes)
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vodka, gluten free if needed
Roasted cherry swirl
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
At least 24 hours before you're ready to make the ice cream, place your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer.
Fill a large bowl (large enough to fit the bowl you will transfer the cooked ice cream base into without touching the bottom) with ice and cold water. Set aside.
To make the ice cream base, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup coconut milk in a small bowl and set aside. Combine all remaining coconut milk, honey, vanilla and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture starts to bubble along the edges, pour in coconut milk + cornstarch mixture and whisk continuously until the ice cream base thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain mixture into a medium bowl and place in the bowl of ice water to cool. Stir until it reaches room temperature, then press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface (this prevents a skin from forming on the top) and put in the fridge to cool completely, about two hours.
While the base is chilling, place pitted and halved cherries on a baking sheet. Broil on the middle rack under medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the cherries start to break down. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then move cherries and excess juice to a blender and blend until smooth. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
When the ice cream base has chilled thoroughly, stir in vodka. Churn using your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When it reaches soft serve consistency (mine took 15 minutes), quickly pour half into a freezer safe dish, and gently swirl in half of the cherry puree. Repeat with remaining base and puree (optionally, you can swirl in only 2/3 of the puree, see notes). Lightly press a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap over the surface of the ice cream and freeze at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, let sit 15-20 minutes to soften before scooping.
- For a lower calorie/fat ice cream, you can replace 1 can of full fat coconut milk with either 1 can of light coconut milk OR 2 cups of unsweetened plain almond milk. The final result, however, will be a touch icier - but equally as delicious.
- I prefer using honey as it helps make the ice cream softer, but if you're a strict vegan, maple syrup will work instead.
- Measure cherries after pitting and halving.
- You can choose to swirl in only 2/3 of the puree and save the remainder for other uses. I put the rest on yogurt and to top the ice cream.
- Store ice cream with a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap lightly pressed against the surface to avoid freezer burn.