Smooth, creamy, homemade vanilla ice cream with simple roasted cherries swirled throughout: this bourbon vanilla roasted cherry ice cream is what I want to eat all summer long. (Jump to Recipe)
I am very excited about this recipe. Not only is it simple to make and ultra creamy without the hours of effort most homemade ice creams take…it tastes like summer in a bite, because we’re roasting fresh cherries to bring out their best flavor.
Just under the wire, I’m celebrating July as National Ice Cream Month in partnership with Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. I don’t know who came up with all these food holidays, but a whole month dedicated to ice cream is something I can definitely get behind. I was excited to work with Nielsen-Massey on this because I already love and use their vanilla extracts all the time in my baking; they’re super high quality and are always packaged beautifully in glass containers, which I like better than plastic.
Choosing a good vanilla extract is key when you’re making a vanilla-forward dessert (and in general, to be honest). There are way too many fake “vanilla flavor” extracts out there that are a sad imitation of true vanilla bean. I suppose one could go to the trouble of buying real vanilla beans and scraping out the seeds, but that’s just way too much work for me. One of my good friends bought me a make-your-own vanilla extract kit for my birthday once, which was fabulous, but absent your own homemade vanilla extract, these are the best. I really like the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, which has a sweet and creamy flavor profile, but they have several others as well. I also like and regularly use their vanilla bean paste, which has hundreds of little vanilla bean flecks in it and can be used 1 for 1 in place of vanilla extract if you are making something (like ice cream or frosting or pecan butter…heck yes) where you want to see the beans.
We’re going to use both the bourbon vanilla extract and the vanilla bean paste in this bourbon vanilla roasted cherry ice cream for the ultimate vanilla-forward flavor and visual appeal, and it’s complemented perfectly by the sweet roasted cherries swirled throughout.
Roasted cherries sound fancy but are actually really easy – the hardest part is just pitting them. I recommend buying a cherry pitter which makes the process approximately 1000x faster. It may seem like just one more appliance you do not need cluttering up your kitchen drawer, but I promise you it’s worth it during cherry season. Supposedly it works on olives too, though I haven’t tried that and knowing me, it’s much more likely to get use with cherries.
You just sprinkle pitted cherries with a little sugar and some bourbon (because why not), then bake at 450 for 15 minutes (shaking the pan every 5 so they don’t burn) until they give up their juices and begin to break down. Roasting the cherries concentrates their flavor and also evaporates some of the water in them so we won’t have icy cherries in our ice cream.
Making the ice cream base itself could not be easier. No cooking custard and cheesecloths here. Just whisk heavy cream, half and half, a little sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of bourbon together and then churn it in your ice cream maker (I have this one). That’s it. The bourbon isn’t 100% necessary, but it adds just a little complexity to the flavor of the vanilla and it keeps the ice cream from freezing solid. You’ve got to really whisk the mixture for a couple minutes to fully incorporate the sugar, but other than that, this ice cream comes together unbelievably quickly and with minimal effort. That’s my kind of dessert.
Once that base is done churning, just layer the ice cream, then some cherries, then ice cream, then cherries, then gently swirl it together (but not too much so the ice cream doesn’t turn pink). Freeze for a few hours and then you’ve got homemade ice cream bliss.
I hope you’ll try this vanilla roasted cherry ice cream before the summer is out: it’s a keeper!
Bourbon Vanilla Roasted Cherry Ice Cream
For the roasted cherries:
- 2 1/2 cups sweet cherries
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
For the vanilla ice cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste*
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional, keeps the ice cream from freezing solid)
For the roasted cherries:
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Pit the cherries (I use this cherry pitter) and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the cherries with the sugar and bourbon.
- Bake for 15 minutes, shaking the pan to move the cherries every 5 minutes, until the cherries have released their juices and are beginning to collapse. Let cool until you are able to coarsely chop them. Reserve the cherries and their juices.
For the vanilla ice cream:
- In a large bowl, whisk all ice cream base ingredients together for at least 2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
- Once the ice cream is churned, place half the ice cream base in the bottom of a 9x5 loaf pan or other ice cream container, then add half the cherries on top, then add the rest of the ice cream followed by the rest of the cherries and their juices. Lightly swirl the cherries into the base with a knife until you like the pattern.
- Freeze until set, at least 4 hours. Serve!
Please note that Nielsen-Massey provided me with a free sample of their Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract in exchange for my honest review and this recipe post. All opinions are my own!