Finals week. My head head hurts, my desk looks like my locker threw up on it, and r=sin3theta, my chronological list of presidents of the United States, and the equations for determining potential and kinetic energy are all starting to run together. It's been a horrid week for everyone in my year, and I can't tell you how many times my cramming has led to nervous breakdowns over the past few days. On Friday, though I was supposed to go to a friend's birthday party, I came home and did my best to calm down by working on this fruity, chocolaty, delicious ice cream. It tastes so much like summer that I think it made me forget about school and finals and De Moivre's nth powers theorem. At least for a little bit.
I have four days of school left. Four. All I want to do is curl up and sleep for a good 12-13 hours, wake up and go running, and come home to bake all the awesome projects I've been putting off. But there are still five finals to go, and this post is actually being written on borrowed time that should probably go into my trigonometry homework.
So let's get to it, shall we?
We have a ton of cherries in our freezer right now from our tree outside, which this year is absolutely covered in fruit. Here are just some of the ones I've pitted and frozen for later use, as well as our lovely tree:
Now, I'm not really a big ice cream person in general. I'll eat it happily if put in front of me, but it's not something I crave, like, say, rich chocolate cake or butter cookies. But lately I've been coming home from school to find myself really, really wanting ice cream. Maybe it's the fact that it's June and finally warm here, but I've been itching to make something sweet and frosty for a while now.
I decided to make a vanilla ice cream and to throw in some of the cherries I have stashed for special occasions. And I thought I'd throw in some chocolate chips to sweeten the deal, and because my dad's favorite ice cream happens to be Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.
It turned out delicious. The vanilla ice cream base is the best I've tasted; it's the epitome of what homemade ice cream should taste like, nostalgic and so rich and smooth. It's even got that gorgeous, off-white, creamy color flecked with tiny black vanilla seeds. It looks good, but it tastes even better.
So for now, it's back to studying. I can't wait for summer, when I'll be able to bake on a not-so-sporadic basis and actually get posts up when I'd like to. For the moment, I'll offer you the recipe for this wonderful early June treat and wish everyone a very happy start to summer.
Your Baking Soundtrack for Vanilla Bean Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream:
Les Miserables, 1987 Original Broadway Cast
Most people that know me know that I have a thing for this musical. Our school's symphony played the score for an (incredibly good) student production of it, and after seeing that, I was hooked. The music is downright gorgeous, albeit dramatic, sweeping, and beautifully performed on this recording. Plus, when I hear Eponine dying for her one true love on "A Little Fall of Rain," I realize that maybe finals aren't so bad after all. Maybe.
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream
Vanilla base adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
2 cups cream
2/3 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks, chilled
2/3 cup sugar
A tiny pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or better yet, small chunks of semisweet/bittersweet chocolate)
5 ounces fresh or frozen cherries
Prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bowl about 1/3 of the way up with ice.
Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and scrape in the contents of the vanilla bean, adding the pod as well.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
Remove the plastic wrap from the saucepan and return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and spoon 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking the yolks all the while to temper them.
Pour this mixture into the hot cream, whisking constantly and using a spatula to get all of the yolks into the saucepan.
Over low heat, cook the cream-yolk mixture until it reaches 170F or until you can run a finger down the back of the spatula and leave a clear trail through the sauce.
Set the medium bowl in the ice bath.
Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture into the medium bowl and stir occasionally until it reaches room temperature.
Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours, until thoroughly chilled (you may also chill it overnight).
Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers' directions.
It will be very soft right after churning. Quickly fold in the chocolate chips and cherries.
Freeze for about four hours, until firm enough to scoop.