Homemade “Cherry Garcia” Ice Cream

When you’re in love, you do crazy things. Not that making your sweetheart’s favorite foods is crazy, mind you, but I do think it’s possible to push the envelope quite far, as I have done at times in my quest to tantalize my husband’s taste buds. This dessert might qualify, because not only did I make a homemade version of his favorite ice cream, I scooped that deliciousness right over a chocolate waffle and drizzled it with a homemade cherry syrup.

This is the way to my lover’s heart! ❤

Les’s all-time favorite sweet flavor combination is chocolate with cherries, and I have mentioned this previously on Comfort du Jour, in these scrumptious posts:


All those desserts were delicious, but when it comes to cherry and chocolate, it is unquestionably ice cream that wins my man’s heart. One of his favorite grocery store ice creams is the Ben & Jerry’s classic flavor, Cherry Garcia, and though I made it back in October 2020 for the triple chocolate-cherry brownie bowls, I felt that it needed a little tweaking, so I didn’t share the recipe at the time. The color of my first batch was off, because I had used my go-to custard base that had a yellowish tint from the egg yolks. And the chocolate chunks were 70% cacao, which proved to be too bitter and a touch gritty in the mix of so much creaminess.

So, I did what I do best and gave the recipe a makeover. And I’m back to share it with you—a homemade version of “Cherry Garcia” ice cream—one that uses sweetened condensed milk in its base, for creamy sweetness without the yellow egg color, a ribbon of sweet-tart cherry syrup that is tinged with a surprise ingredient, and bits of semi-sweet chocolate that bring just the right balance to the sweet cream, vanilla and cherries.

And, in a bold move, I gave it a go with a recipe I’d been eyeing for years on King Arthur Baking’s website—sourdough chocolate malt waffles. This dessert was nothing short of spectacular.

Over the top? Obviously, but c’mon, we’re talking about Valentine’s Day!

Be my ❤ alentine?

Before I get into the making of this lovely dessert, let me acknowledge that a few of you may not be inclined to go this crazy, or maybe you don’t have an ice cream machine yet, or you don’t have sourdough starter to make the chocolate waffles. Please feel free to lift any single part of this dessert for your own celebration, even if it means just making the cherry syrup to drizzle over store-bought ice cream, or serving the ice cream with a store-bought chocolate cookie. I ended up making a second batch of the cherry syrup (with chunks of cherries), and it was fantastic over plain vanilla ice cream.

My ingredients and instructions are all included in a downloadable PDF at the end of the post. Enjoy!


“Cherry Garcia” Ice Cream Base


Cherry Swirl Syrup


Sourdough Chocolate Malt Waffles

Adapted from Chocolate Malt Waffles | King Arthur Baking


Freezing the Cherry Garcia Ice Cream


Chocolate-Cherry Heaven, Coming Right Up!




Peppermint Bark Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts to make. It’s usually just me and my husband at the table, so I rarely make cakes, pies or other large-scale desserts because we don’t want all those leftovers in the house. But ice cream. Now that’s a treat that we can enjoy over a week or two, and for the holidays this year, I wanted to do a Christmas-y flavor. I had considered doing an ice cream with My Dad’s Irish Creme, which I made last week for sipping by the chiminea, though it has been unseasonably warm in North Carolina so we have only done that once. I’ll need to give that one some thought, because so much of the flavor comes from a hefty amount of Irish whiskey and that will hinder the freezing. I also considered eggnog ice cream, which can be made with less alcohol, but I could not find a commercial eggnog that wasn’t made with high fructose corn syrup (bleh). Maybe next year, with more careful planning.

You can only find this flavor during the holidays, and this week, it will probably be on sale!

This peppermint-and-chocolate combination won me over after my husband tasted one of these little peppermint bark candies. Mint is not a favorite of his, but combined with the chocolate, he declared it a winner. I wanted to include these candies in the finished ice cream, and I also wanted the ice cream base to have a minty flavor.

My inspiration for that part came from a post shared recently by one of my blog pals, Chef Mimi, who presented a gorgeous peppermint chocolate cocktail made with vodka that had been infused with candy canes. I thought, “well, why wouldn’t that kind of infusion also work in a base for ice cream?” And, as you can see, it does!

Unlike most of my ice creams, which begin with a cooked egg custard base, this one gets its rich texture from sweetened condensed milk. The base peppermint flavor and pretty pink color are the result of having dissolved a couple of candy canes into the milk portion of the ice cream, and I added chopped up chocolate peppermint bark squares at the end for a fun candy surprise.

An ice cream machine is recommended for this recipe, which will yield 1 1/2 quarts.

This was a fun way to capture the flavors of the season in an ice cream!

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

2 regular size candy canes (if you have mini candy canes, I recommend using about 4 of them)

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk* (see notes)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract oil

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

9 Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark squares, chopped

1 oz. good vodka*

Your favorite hot fudge sauce (optional, but yum!) for serving


*Notes

Sweetened condensed milk is great for ice creams that do not have a custard base, especially when you want to have a brighter “white” base color. I used the whole milk version of Eagle brand, but I expect you could also use a reduced-fat or even fat-free version of condensed milk; if you choose a lower fat option, expect a slightly “icier” texture in the finished ice cream.

A small glug of vodka, mixed in for the final minute of freezing, ensures that the ice cream will scoop easily straight from the freezer. If you prefer not to add alcohol (or, certainly, if you intend to share the ice cream with children or non-drinkers), you can skip this ingredient. Simply take the ice cream from the freezer about 10 minutes before scooping.


Instructions


Heat whole milk and candy canes in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat. As the milk warms, the candy canes will melt into it, creating a pretty color and a delicately sweet minty base. As I think of it, I imagine that this milk could also be used to make a minty version of hot cocoa. Maybe next Christmas!

When candy canes are fully dissolved, remove milk from heat and cool then chill in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl or mixing pitcher, blend together the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Whisk in the peppermint milk. Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts. Cover and chill for several hours (maybe even overnight) until the mixture is very cold.

Put the chopped chocolate-peppermint bark in the freezer while you freeze the ice cream mixture.

Prepare your ice cream machine, following manufacturer’s recommendations for freezing the ice cream mixture. When the ice cream reaches the fully churned stage, add in the chopped peppermint bark pieces and churn an additional two minutes to evenly incorporate the candy pieces.

Finally, add the vodka and churn until the liquid has disappeared. This trick will improve the texture of the ice cream for very easy scooping straight from the freezer. The vodka is indiscernible in the ice cream, but if you (or someone you are feeding) avoids alcohol, it can easily be omitted.

Transfer the finished ice cream to an insulated freezer container and place it in the freezer for several hours, or preferably overnight. Serve it with warmed hot fudge topping for an extra special holiday treat!




Salted Maple-Bacon Ice Cream

It wouldn’t be summer without ice cream, and it wouldn’t be Comfort du Jour without some unexpected flavor twists. One of the biggest reasons I love my ice cream machine is that I can choose my own flavors rather than relying on the same old varieties you find everywhere else. Using my easy formula for custard ice cream base, I’ve whipped two of my all-time favorite flavors into one frosty treat.

I’ve swapped out sugar in favor of maple syrup, and paired it with the delicious, smoky flavor of real bacon! These two flavors are like an old married couple, finishing each other’s sentences and picking up each other’s slack. When the maple syrup starts to feel too sweet, here comes the salty, savory bacon to keep it in check. And because we get a little crazy at our house about the sweet-salty combination of maple and bacon, I’ve garnished the ice cream with additional bacon, glazed with maple syrup. I’ll share that, too.

It’s National Ice Cream Day, smack in the middle of National Ice Cream Month, and I am on it!

I know you want some.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup maple sugar* (see notes)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup dark maple syrup

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 thin slices uncured maple bacon, cooked until crispy, then broken into bits*

1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional but recommended for improved texture)


*Notes

Double maple means double tasty!

My maple sugar is sourced from the same place I order my syrup, Big Tree Maple in Lakewood, N.Y., which is just up the road from where I grew up. Maple sugar is not as easy to find in local stores as maple syrup, but you will be happy to know that Big Tree offers shipping on its products. You could also substitute with caster sugar (sometimes called “superfine” sugar) or simply increase the maple syrup to a total of 3/4 cup.

All 4 pieces of bacon are intended for mixing into the ice cream. Cook a few extra slices of bacon if you want to make the maple-glazed candied bacon garnish. And, trust me, you want to! 😉


Instructions


  1. In a stand mixer or bowl with hand mixer, whip egg yolks until they get frothy and increase in volume. Gradually add maple sugar, whipping constantly and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Heat milk and cream until hot and steaming but not boiling. Reduce the heat to very low (or turn it off) at this point, so that the milk mixture doesn’t curdle. Measure out about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. Stream it slowly into the egg yolk mixture while running the mixer. Use a lower speed on the mixer to avoid whipping too much air into the cream mixture.
  3. Transfer the tempered yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard is smooth and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in kosher salt until dissolved.
  4. Whisk in maple syrup, stirring thoroughly to combine. Lay plastic film directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation. Cover the bowl with additional film or lid and refrigerate several hours to overnight.

Time to freeze the ice cream!

  1. Before freezing, remove plastic film and stir mixture to reincorporate any ingredients that may have settled to the bottom. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the last few minutes of churning, add bacon crumbles to the ice cream.
  3. Mix in a tablespoon of bourbon in the final minute. The alcohol will just barely flavor the ice cream, but the real benefit will be improved texture for scooping directly from the freezer.


Bonus recipe – Candied Maple Bacon

2 to 3 thin strips uncured maple bacon

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Cook bacon in the 350°F oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When bacon is crisp, transfer to a paper towel and replace parchment paper. Lightly brush maple syrup onto each side of the bacon slices, and return it to the oven for a few minutes. Repeat two or three more times, until syrup is hardened and bacon looks like candy. Cool completely and wrap loosely in foil or parchment. Garnish ice cream portions with a piece of the bacon.



You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the brands and products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or merchandise for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀

Terrie


Homemade Pistachio Ice Cream

When our new kitchen is installed this fall, organization will be priority one. My husband, Les, and I are not doing all this planning and spending only to fall into the same jumbled mess of stuff we started with. To that point, every gadget we own is going to be catching a little side eye, as we make some hard, overdue decisions about what deserves to stay in our beautiful new prime real estate and what must go.

One small electric that has already passed muster in my mind is my Cuisinart ice cream maker. This device gets plenty of action at our house, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. It’s easy to use, requires no hand-cranking effort or rock salt, and it quickly churns out up to two quarts of ice cream at a time. I purchased it several years ago (when I lived in a different kitchen) and it was one of the first things I laid claim to when I struck out on my own. I have made some delicious, memorable ice creams with this machine, and it technically does not fall into the single-purpose category because I can also use it to make sorbets and fruity wine slushies. How could I not love that, especially during summer?

Check out these fun ice cream flavors I churned out in summer of 2020:

July is one of my favorite months, not only because I will celebrate my birthday in the late part of the month, but also because it happens to be National Ice Cream Month! For your summer refreshment pleasure, I’ll be sharing several delicious ice cream recipes in the coming weeks. If you enjoy ice cream (especially if you like unexpected flavor combinations), I urge you to make a small, one-time investment in an ice cream machine. Sure, there are about a million “no-churn” recipes for ice cream on Pinterest and other internet sites, but if you look closely at some of those recipes, they often depend on numerous extra steps to produce the texture you expect in an ice cream, including setting a timer to pull it out of the freezer every couple of hours to stir it up. I’d rather just use an ice cream maker and be done with it.

The first ice cream for 2021 is pistachio, and though this was my first time making this particular flavor, it was simple because it begins with my “basic” formula for custard-based ice cream, which is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups each of heavy cream and whole milk
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks

The cream and milk are heated together with half of the sugar, and the egg yolks are whipped with the rest of it. When the cream mixture is hot enough, I whisk it into the whipped yolks to temper them, then it all goes back into the pot to cook until custardy. From that point, you can flavor it up as you like, chill it and then churn it in the ice cream machine. Homemade ice cream has a somewhat shorter shelf life than store-bought because it doesn’t have any weird, chemistry-lab ingredients. But here’s the fun flip side—you don’t need homemade ice cream to have a long shelf life because it’s usually gobbled up within a few days anyway!


To infuse this ice cream with the unique flavor of pistachio, I toasted the pistachios briefly, pulsed them in the food processor, and then infused their flavor into the cream mixture. I double-strained the mixture to remove the gritty bits of pistachio before tempering the eggs, but next time I will use cheesecloth to simplify that step. At the end of the freeze-churn stage, I added roasted pieces of pistachio for extra flavor and texture. A little touch of amaretto churned in during the final minute gave the ice cream a perfectly scoopable consistency for serving, straight from the freezer.


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup organic cane sugar, divided

3 egg yolks

1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio meats, divided

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

1 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur (optional at the end of churning, for improved texture)


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast the pistachio meats on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant and toasty. Remove from oven and cool. Divide pistachios evenly, transferring half of them to a food processor bowl. Pulse a few times until the nuts are reduced to small bits, but not to the point of powder. Use a sharp knife to gently chop the remaining pistachios. Set them aside for mixing into the ice cream during freezing.
  2. Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add half the amount of sugar and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved. Add the pulverized pistachios to the milk mixture and simmer until the mixture is hot but not quite boiling. Remove from heat and let this stand for about 10 minutes. This will steep the pistachio flavor into the cream mixture.
  3. When steeping is finished (you will know because the cream mixture will have taken on a slightly chartreuse green color), pour the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the nut solids. Clean out the saucepan and dry it. Return the strained cream mixture to the pan and heat over medium until it returns to the not-quite-boiling stage.
  4. While the cream mixture is heating, use a hand or stand mixer to whip the egg yolks until silky. Add the sugar, a little bit at a time, mixing well and stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whip until the mixture is soft, light and lemon-colored.
  5. Measure out about 2 cups of the milk-cream mixture. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking or beating with electric mixer the entire time. This step will temper the eggs, gradually cooking them without scrambling or breaking them.
  6. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to slightly thicken and coats the back of your spoon.
  7. Remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Lay a film of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation from forming. Cover the entire bowl with a lid or additional plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until fully chilled.
  8. When you’re ready to freeze the ice cream, give the cream mixture a good stirring to minimize any settling that has occurred in the fridge. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. My Cuisinart takes about 20 minutes. Sift the reserved pistachio nuts in a mesh strainer to remove any powdery crumbs from chopping them. Add them to the ice cream machine only for the last few minutes. Add amaretto (optional, but recommended) for the final minute of mixing. You will not taste the alcohol, but its addition ensures easy scooping of the ice cream straight from the freezer. If you avoid alcohol, or if you will be serving children, skip it and simply remove the ice cream from the freezer about 15 minutes ahead of serving.

Great way to start the summer!


You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the brands and products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or merchandise for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀

Terrie