It’s grotesquely hot around here. I know, its mid July, it’s supposed to be hot yet somehow I’m caught by surprise. Mother Nature fools with us, you know? She’ll sneak in a couple absolutely gorgeous days then, BOOM, 90 degrees with 90% humidity. My energy goes down as the temperature goes up, as does my motivation to cook anything. During times like this, I only want to eat two things: watermelon and ice cream. I eat and ungodly amount of watermelon and ice cream during these sweltering weeks.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite ice cream flavors was cherry vanilla and if I recall, there seemed to be two variations in the grocery store. One was more of a black cherry; deep dark, rich and a beguiling shade of purple. The other was vanilla with day-glo red maraschino cherries strewn throughout. I would happily take either. I would still happily take either though my tolerance for neon cherries has its limits these days.
I haven’t had cherry vanilla ice cream, outside of Cherry Garcia if that even counts, in years. It was high time to get back on that bandwagon. With a large amount of plain yogurt leftover from another recipe, I decided to mix it up and make a frozen yogurt. My favorite recipe is from David Lebovitz, loved for it’s incredible simplicity – mix together plain yogurt, sugar and vanilla and spin. That’s it. Sweet, creamy and with the most pleasant tang, it is a keeper. Just delightful.
For the cherry portion of this game, I skipped the bright maraschinos and instead roasted some gorgeous dark beauties I picked up at the farmers market last weekend. This recipe came from my other favorite ice cream maker, Jeni Britton Bauer (of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams) where it is usually swirled into a goat cheese ice cream (a great recipe if so inclined.) Since the original goat cheese recipe is tangy, I knew the roasted cherries would work perfectly with the yogurt. It is also an incredibly simple recipe with one complication: you have to turn on the oven. I know, trust me, I know. I don’t have A/C so I do this in the wee hours, before the whole apartment becomes a sweat box later in the day. Stir together pitted cherries, sugar and cornstarch; bake 30-45 minutes with the ceiling fan on full tilt. Sometimes I’ll toss in a vanilla bean, sometimes a bit of cinnamon or five-spice powder. Out of the oven comes a pan bubbling with delicious soft cherries in a flavorful red goop. Let me tell you that goop is some serious stuff. Let it cool and this deeply flavored, darkly colored mixture is swirled into a creamy, tangy vanilla yogurt that is far and away better than the ice creams of my childhood. This is a clear case where the memory of something does not exceed the reality of right now.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: KEEPING ONE’S COOL. Cooking when it’s hot brings on it’s own special stress. Don’t add to it. With a few simple steps, minimal effort and yes a brief amount of oven time, you’ll have a cool and refreshing frozen treat to enjoy on these blistering days. It’s tart, it’s bright, and it’s delicious. I ate a bowl for breakfast this morning. It’s yogurt and fruit. That’s breakfast as far as I’m concerned. My rationale is a little half-baked when it’s this hot out. Don’t judge.
Seven years ago: Strawberry Picking
Six years ago: Sour Cherry Cobbler
Five years ago: Life in Southwest France
Four years ago: Spanish Sunday Lunch, Patatas Aioli
Three years ago: Watermelon Aqua Fresca
Two years ago: Guinness Crème Anglaise
Last year: Slow Roasted Spiced Pineapple
ROASTED CHERRY VANILLA FROZEN YOGURT – frozen yogurt from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop“, roasted cherries from Jeni Britton Bauer’s “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home“
Makes 1 quart
For the yogurt, I greatly prefer full fat because of the flavor and texture but you could use low fat or even nonfat. The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt though I fine regular works well too. I also greatly prefer vanilla bean paste here instead of extract. If you have it, use it.
for the roasted cherries:
1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
for the frozen yogurt:
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- For the cherries: Preheat oven to 400°
- Combine the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a 9” 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 refrigerate at least 2 hours until fully chilled.
- For the frozen yogurt: mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla paste. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until well chilled.
- Process the yogurt in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
- Transfer the frozen yogurt to a freezer safe container and either fold or layer in the roasted cherries (including the delicious goo.)
- Freeze at least 2 hours before eating.