Make Ahead

Sour Cherry Gelato

May  5, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Makes Approximately a pint+
Author Notes

During my honeymoon in Vancouver, I discovered and fell in love with gelato. A few years later on a trip to Italy, that love affair deepened. What I prefer about Italian gelato is the minimal butterfat that is required to make it. The flavors in gelato are more pronounced because the milkfat doesn’t dull the flavor. Fortunately, I discovered Jeni Britton, an artisanal ice cream maker in Ohio who shares my aversion to using eggs in ice cream. I found my hero and was finally able to test out one of her recipes. This sour cherry ice cream is an adaptation of Jenni's cream cheese and corn starch base. I also used David Lebovitz’s trick of adding alcohol to the ice cream to make sure it keeps a soft texture and doesn’t crystallize in the freezer. I think this is the closest I’ve come to homemade, soft-textured gelato. - Naked Beet —NakedBeet

Test Kitchen Notes

I don’t know whether or not sour cherries grow in Italy, but if they do, then this recipe may well set the standard of what sour cherry gelato should taste like. The consistency is extremely smooth, and the cherry flavor is first muted by the cream, but more poignant as you bite a cherry and lingers on your tongue, thanks to the brandy. I used fresh sour cherries as they grow abundantly in my area (central Pennsylvania) at this time of year. - cheese1227 —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • (1) 24 oz ounces jar of pitted sour cherries, juice drained and reserved
  • 1/4 cup reserved sour cherry juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 tablespoon kirsch
  • 2-3 tablespoons chocolate curls
  1. Drain the cherries from the jar, reserving the liquid. Cut 3/4 of the cherries in half and refrigerate until you continue with the recipe. Place the cream cheese in a small bowl and mash with a fork, set aside. Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of half and half (your mixed milk and cream) and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, mix the rest of the milk and cream with the corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. On a simmer, continue stirring for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring this back to a boil. Cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the cream cheese, whisking to incorporate. Add salt, almond extract and 1/4 cup of reserved cherry juice. Let the mixture cool completely over an ice bath or at room temperature. Refrigerate the cooled mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight. While you might be impatient to just put the ice cream into the machine right away, chilling it completely will keep the ice cream from crystallizing (that weird chalky texture) while it’s churning in the machine.
  4. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the liquid through the strainer. Any cream cheese or solids that haven’t been blended well will remain out and help make your ice cream smooth and creamy. Add the kirsch brandy to the liquid ice cream before pouring into your ice cream maker. Once in the ice cream machine, you can either add the chocolate and sour cherries while it’s mixing, or toward the end.
  5. To keep the ice cream fresh, I line a glass pyrex container, top and bottom with saran wrap and keep it covered in the freezer. Once you’re ready to serve the ice cream, let it soften at room temperature for about 2 minutes. You’ll know “it’s ready” when you can scoop easily.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • gluttonforlife
  • scoopmuse
  • Lizthechef
  • lapadia

17 Reviews

Rosalie L. May 1, 2015
How many cups of cherries if you use fresh or frozen?
Hi Naked Beet - I made this wonderful gelato yesterday for a BBQ we were going to last night. It was just great and got many compliments! I wanted to use fresh cherries too, since I have so many right now, and all that's available fresh in my area (that I know of) are sweet ones. I took your advice and cooked them on the stove first to create some juice, but didn't have enough juice and so took about 1/4 cup of the softened cherries and threw in the blender and then through a strainer to get rid of the skin and threw that into the gelato base too. The rest of the halved cherries I added to the base about 10 minutes before it was ready in the ice cream maker. Note: I couldn't believe the difference the kirsch made on both flavor and texture!!! I'll be adding some alcohol at the end of many of my ice creams now. Thanks for the tastey recipe and that wonderful tip!
NakedBeet July 7, 2010
Hey!!!! That's wonderful, so happy to hear your guests liked it. Actually, the alcohol idea is all David Leibowitz, but I thought using kirsch specifically would be right for the sour cherries. So glad the fresh/cooked worked perfectly for you.
gluttonforlife July 2, 2010
Gorgeous recipe! WIll try making it with fresh sour cherries--do you think that would require more sweetener?
NakedBeet July 3, 2010
glutton, the sour cherry jar was not in syrup, so that helped keep the sugar low. I would think a tad more sugar if you were using fresh (maybe 3/4 cup?) or you could try to mimic the jar cherries by cooking them down a bit with sugar to get some of the syrup, which might help distribute the cherry flavor throughout the ice cream, otherwise, it might just be vanilla dappled with some fresh fruit....? I'd be curious to know what works for you. I haven't seen fresh sour cherries yet in my Greek markets, soon though, I hope.
scoopmuse July 2, 2010
This recipe looks great! I, too, have a fondness for Jeni's ice cream and prefer to make recipes without eggs. Her base is an excellent starting point for many flavors but I have yet to make a sour cherry version. I will definitely give this a try.
NakedBeet July 3, 2010
Ever since I saw Jeni's eggless base, that's the way I make all my ice creams now. I find the flavors to be purer and more intense. I do vary the extract flavors and sugar levels depending on which flavor I'm making.
Lizthechef June 25, 2010
Fri at 7:10 PDT, two hours away from the deadline - keep coming back to you - beautiful! Thumbs up!
NakedBeet July 3, 2010
Thanks Liz. ; )
TheWimpyVegetarian June 22, 2010
Yah! I've been hoping for a recipe like this too! I can't wait to make it.
NakedBeet June 22, 2010
I hope you like it!
Lizthechef June 22, 2010
This is the cherry gelato I have been waiting for. Can I make it with another kind of cherry, though? I'd prefer to use fresh and it's hard to find fresh sour cherries in Southern CA. Thumbs up! ps I'm thinking Rainer cherries...
NakedBeet June 22, 2010
Liz, I don't see why not! I'm a sour cherry nut, but sweet cherries would work just as well, would be like a real Ben and Jerry's and you can big it up with larger chunks of chocolate.
lapadia June 22, 2010
I LOVE this, and also share your egg aversion when making ice cream. Saved the recipe and will let you know when I try!
NakedBeet June 22, 2010
lapadia, I'd love your feedback.
NakedBeet June 22, 2010
Thanks Sagegreen! If you end up trying it out, let me know how it works out for you.
Sagegreen June 22, 2010
This looks and sounds incredible!