O and I have a little routine when we visit Nashville. We always end up in the painfully hip East Nashville neighborhood, sipping cocktails at the Two Ten Jack izakaya on Eastland Avenue (whose miso-roasted brussel sprouts I attempted to recreate in this post), followed by slurping bowls of tonkatsu, then ambling over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to further stuff ourselves with near-30 samples and full two-scoop sundaes, covered in honey butterscotch scotch, hand-whipped cream, and always exactly 13 Amarena cherries. This perfect quantity was discovered by the girl suffering through my order at one of our earlier visits and might seem outlandish to you… but you’re not even cool anyway (humph!). I spend an indordinant amount of time sampling each new flavor and standby alike, making sure I know exactly what I’m in the mood for, but in a two-scoop sundae, I only ever have one new choice..
Whether we end up at Two Ten Jack so we can go to Jeni’s, or whether we plan to go to Jeni’s so we can go to Two Ten Jack, I’m not sure (though I will say that our local ramen is superior to Two Ten’s–surprise of the century–it’s still such an experience we associate with Nashville), but I miss both when we’re back home in Memphis. Luckily, I can buy pints of Jeni’s at home, and so we usually have a ohmygod-did-that-really-cost-$12 container of the goat cheese red cherry bliss in our freezer. And then I got pregnant, and Jeni’s got listeria.
I don’t usually make the time to go back to the store for a refund whenever there’s a recall, but holy, Jeni’s is $12! So I begrudgingly dragged my pint back to the Fresh Market and exchanged my sadness for twelve bucks, all before realizing I have the Jeni’s cookbook back at home! I’d only made one recipe out of the book before–a frozen yogurt that took way too much time to be worth it–but I decided to crack it open again to get my Jeni’s fix in the meantime. And oh, mommy.. we can skip East Nashville altogether now!
This ice cream was so good it almost shocked me. I was shocked by the richness of the flavor, the perfectly balanced tang of the goat cheese, the implausible creaminess of the base, the indulgence of the roasted cherries. Oh. Oh oh.
Jeni knows what she’s doing, and this is evident in the cookbook notes. They use a cornstarch slurry instead of eggs to thicken the ice cream bases, which reduces the water content overall, leaving you with a much creamier, richer ice cream. She roasts most of her fruits before stirring them into the ice cream to further reduce the water content, keeping the solid-as-a-rock fruit piece experience out of your life for good. They stir in just a bit of cream cheese to seemingly every ice cream recipe, adding that je n’en sais quoi that only cream cheese can righteously claim. The most indulgent, creamiest, richest, most perfectly balanced ice cream you’ve ever tasted.. ever. Ever. EVER. I’m super serious about this.
On top of that, you can make a quart for relatively cheap–less than the cost of a pint at the store, and it’s exponentially better, at that. Especially now that we’re still seeing fresh cherries at the store for decent prices, you pretty much owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to make this.
I didn’t change anything about this recipe, so.. thank Jeni when you see her.
Goat Cheese & Roasted Cherry Ice Cream
- Roasted Cherries:
- 2 cups pitted fresh or frozen (not thawed) red or black cherries
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Goat Cheese Ice Cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
Make roasted cherries:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Combine the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a 9-inch square baking dish, tossing to mix. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until the juices are thickened and bubbly, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the goat cheese, cream cheese, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture 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 necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of the cherries and ending with a spoonful of cherries; do not mix. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Makes 1 generous quart.