My son Zac, loves ice cream. It's nice to have an ice cream aficionado in the house who also likes to experiment. Maybe it's all of those years of college chemistry classes. He is a purist who understands that a few simple quality ingredients can produce the sublime. The whole is the sum of it's parts. Fresh cream, milk, and sugar, mixed with rich egg yolks and vanilla bean make the perfect vanilla ice cream equation. You'd never call it just plain vanilla.Ahhh....simple pleasures! Then in walks artist mom (me), who sees it as a blank canvas for homemade toppings and airy, cloud-like whipped cream. Thank goodness we have David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop, to do our homework from. Now that's my kind of textbook ;-) After studying the fudge sauces, I made David's Classic Hot Fudge Sauce. Does life get any better than warm chocolate? I think not. Then reading David Lebovitz's blog last week, I saw Cherries in a Red Wine Syrup. Cherries are my second love♥. I had a large bowlful of ripe organic cherries and needed to make this! It really is so simple to make, as is the fudge sauce. A cherry pitter makes it child's play. The rich cherry flavor shines through and I was surprised that the wine just gives it depth and sits in the background. And it is parfait on homemade vanilla ice cream.
Vanilla Ice Cream
(adapted from, "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz)
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.
Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.
Classic Hot Fudge Sauce
(Adapted from, "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz)
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 g) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125 ml) light corn syrup
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (15 g) salted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Serve warm.
Storage: This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm it gently in a microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat.
Diane's note: I substituted half and half for the heavy cream to reduce the fat content and was very happy with the results.
Cherries in a Red Wine Syrup
(Adapted from David Lebovitz.com)
Makes 2 cups (500g)
1 pound (450g) fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130g) sugar
1 1/4 cups (310ml) red wine
2 teaspoons corn starch or potato starch
2 tablespoons red wine or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
optional: 1/2 tablespoon kirsch liqueur
1. Put the cherries and sugar in a large, wide saucepan.
2. Mix one tablespoon of the red wine with the corn or potato starch in a small bowl until it's dissolved and set aside.
3. Add the rest of the wine and the vinegar to the saucepan. Bring the heat up to a boil, then reduce the heat so it's at a low boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 12 minutes, until the cherries are completely wilted and softened through.
4. During the last moments of cooking, stir in the starch slurry and let the mixture boil the additional minute or so, to thicken the juices.
5. Turn off the heat and stir in the almond extract and kirsch, if using.
Storage: The cherries will keep up to one week in the refrigerator. They can be frozen for up to six months.