Last weekend we celebrated Lola’s 5th birthday.
We had a few family and friends over. I made hot dogs, mac and cheese, and her requested pink and purple cake with white butterflies. Her favorite movie right now is Tangled (the story of Rapunzel), so we had a loose theme going that included floating lanterns that we set off into the night sky. They were actually super hard to get lit and a little scary when they flew into the trees (I thought we might burn the neighbors’ house down). I was so distracted that I forgot to get pictures of that part, but I think she loved it. She spent the day in this princess dress my mom gave her and since then hasn’t stopped talking about how her greatest wish in life is for it to be her birthday every day.
For the cake I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and this crusting buttercream frosting. I followed Amanda’s tutorial for her rose cake. I might have made my frosting too thick because it was super hard to pipe out onto the cake. Despite my bumbling efforts, the design was very forgiving and turned out pretty awesome.
Of course you can’t have cake without homemade ice cream (wait, you can?!). Lola love ice cream, and cherries are one of her favorite fruits so I wanted to incorporate those somehow. While I’m not a huge fruit-in-dessert person, I was completely sold on this cherry crisp ice cream.
This was my first attempt at a recipe out of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and I’m totally sold on the method. It produces a thick, creamy ice cream without the fuss of eggs. Cream cheese is the secret creamy ingredient, which I should have thought of based on these brownies. Aaand now I want brownie ice cream.
No joke, this is a lot of steps. But it’s worth it for a special occasion. You know you’re not eating cherry crisp without a scoop of pure vanilla ice cream anyways, so why not throw it right in there? The cherries and streusel can be prepared a day in advance so once you’re ready to make the ice cream it should only take a few minutes of hands-on work and a few hours of waiting by the freezer.
I used all of the roasted cherries because I couldn’t think of another use for leftovers, but feel free to use as much or as little as you want. The streusel is my absolute favorite part about this ice cream. It’s sweet, brown sugary, crunchy, and basically like eating a cookie. The recipe given here makes way more than you’ll need for the ice cream, which is good because you won’t be able to stop eating the dough before you bake it.
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For the roasted cherries:
2 cups pitted fresh or frozen (not thawed) red or black cherries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the crisp streusel:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
For the ice cream base:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds and bean reserved
To make the cherries, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a 9-inch square baking dish, tossing to mix. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the juices are thickened and bubbly, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the crisp streusel, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put all the ingredients except the oats in a large bowl and blend by rubbing the dry ingredients into the butter with your fingertips.Work quickly so the butter doesn’t melt. When the mixture looks like coarse sand, add the oats and mix well. Spread out on an ungreased baking sheet. Break up any large clumps into crumbs about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toasted and browned, stirring occasionally to prevent burning and to turn over the unbaked portions. Let cool completely, then freeze until ready to use. The streusel can be frozen for up to 1 month.
To make the ice cream base, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Fill a large bowl with lots of ice and water.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla seeds and bean. Bring to a roiling boil over medium-high heat and allow to boil for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to the heat and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as needed, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is done when it is thick and creamy and the machine is no longer freezing it (about 25 minutes). Pack the ice cream into a storage container, layering in pockets of roasted cherry and streusel. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home