With only six ingredients, you can make homemade black cherry ice cream. This silky smooth ice cream recipe has a cream cheese like taste with bursts of sweetness from the cherries.
One of my absolute favorite summer fruit is cherries! They have a unique flavor blend of sweet and sour. Plus, the pretty dark red color turns the ice cream light pink.
While this recipe uses frozen black sweet cherries (so you can make it any time of the year), it would be just as delicious with fresh cherries when they're in season. Trust me, you're going to want to make this to cool off during the summer!
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
By making this homemade cherry ice cream you'll learn:
- How to make ice cream without eggs, and the secret ingredient you'll need to use instead of eggs to keep the ice cream super creamy.
- Why stabilizers are an important part of ice cream.
- How to substitute frozen cherries for fresh cherries.
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One of my favorite things about this ice cream is that you only need 6 ingredients. They're all very simple ingredients that can easily be found at any grocery store. Each of these six ingredients serves an important role in the dark cherry ice cream:
Sweet Black Cherries: The cherries are the star of the show! You can use either fresh black cherries or frozen ones. The best part about using fresh fruit is the natural flavor and color it adds to the ice cream.
If you want even more cherry flavor, make a double batch of the black cherry mixture. You can use half as a topping to spoon over the finished ice cream, which tastes amazing with all the cherry juice.
Heavy Cream and Whole Milk: According to the United States guidelines, products labeled as 'ice cream' are required to contain at least 10% milkfat and 20% milk solids. These butterfat products help make up the ice cream we all know and love.
Do not be tempted to replace whole milk with fat free milk. This is not a good alternative and will drastically change the final taste and mouthfeel of the ice cream.
Granulated Sugar: Yes, sugar helps add sweetness to our ice cream. But, did you know that it also helps keep the ice cream soft? Sugar lowers the freezing point of water, which helps prevent the entire ice cream mixture from freezing during the churning process.
Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used as a stabilizer in this recipe (to replace egg yolks). Stabilizers are very common in ice cream because they help add thickness (viscosity) to the ice cream base, thus leading to less movement of the water molecules. Other common stabilizers can include tapioca flour, guar gum, and xantham gum.
This helps prevent the small ice crystals (created during the freezing process) from fusing together to form large crystals leading to an unpleasant, hard texture. It also slows down the melting process, which is super helpful during a hot summer day!
Additional Toppings or Mix-Ins (Optional): As with any recipe, you can always choose to adapt and add flavors based on your personal preference. Feel free to add in chocolate chips as a mix in or fun toppings like whipped cream or dark chocolate syrup.
How To Make This Recipe
To make this delicious dark cherry ice cream, here are the steps you'll need to follow.
Prepare The Cherries
First, it's time to sweeten and cook down the cherries. This recipe will work with frozen cherries or fresh cherries. However, fresh cherries take less time to cook down.
Cook over medium heat until the cherries have softened and a syrup forms in the bottom of the pan. This usually takes about 6 - 8 minutes.
Prepare the Ice Cream Base
Next, it's time to prepare the ice cream base. This ice cream is considered a Philadelphia style ice cream meaning, there are no eggs present in the recipe.
If you didn't know, many types of ice cream have egg yolks in the recipe to make the ice cream rich and creamy. Without eggs, a different stabilizer needs to be present to achieve a thick and smooth ice cream texture.
The stabilizer in this recipe is corn starch. It not only thickens the ice cream, but also slows down the melting process, which is very helpful on a hot summer day.
Here are the other steps you'll need to do to prepare the base:
- Mix granulated sugar, corn starch, and salt.
- Next, bring the cream and milk up to 160°F (71°C) or until it begins to steam. Make sure it does not start to boil.
- Slowly add in the sugar and cornstarch, whisking constantly throughout this process. In order for corn starch to thicken, it has to be activated by heat. Continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the mixture has visually thickened. You can check this by scooping a bit of the liquid up with a spoon and testing the thickness.
- Finally, transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl that's sitting in an ice bath. Allow the mixture to cool down and stop steaming. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture to prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill the ice cream base until it reaches around 40-42°F (4-5°C), or up to overnight.
Churn the Ice Cream
Time for the fun part - churning the ice cream. This recipe does require an ice cream maker, so make sure you have that on hand. I've got a full review of my favorite ice cream makers if you're looking to buy your first machine.
Once you have your ice cream machine ready to go, here are the next steps. Don't forget to pre-freeze the ice cream bowl for 24 hours if you don't have a compressor machine.
- Pour the chilled base into the ice cream maker and allow to churn for about 20 - 25 minutes. Each ice cream machine is slightly different, so churn according to the manufacturer's directions. You're looking for a soft serve consistency.
- About two minutes before the ice cream is done churning, add cooked cherries and syrup a tablespoon at a time until well incorporated. It turns the ice cream a beautiful pink color.
- The ice cream will be on the soft side, so I'd recommend placing it in the freezer to "cure" or harden up for a couple of hours. This long storage container is my favorite for quickly freezing ice cream to prevent ice crystals.
Sure! Since they're not frozen, fresh cherries will cook down slightly faster. Just keep an eye on them. You'll know they're done once they've cooked down, are slightly softened, and a syrup has formed in the bottom of the saucepan.
Also, make sure to remove the cherry pits.
The short answer is no. Ice cream is made up of butterfat. If you change up the percentage of fat in the recipe, you will not get the correct creamy texture after the ice cream base has churned.
Make sure you're using medium heat or even medium high heat. Cornstarch must reach about 203°F in order to gelatinize. If your heat isn't high enough, it might not be reaching the temperature it needs to thicken the mixture. You can always double check the temperature of the ice cream base with an instant read thermometer.
Also, make sure the cornstarch isn't clumped up. This would impede the mixture from evenly thickening. To avoid this, add the cornstarch in batches while continuously whisking.
Preferably in a shallow/long plastic storage container. Also, make sure to place the storage container in the back of the freezer (not the door). Avoid leaving the ice cream out of the freezer longer than you have to. The goal is to keep the ice cream at a stable (frozen) temperature.
Yes, it's really important that the ice cream base reaches around 40-42°F (4-5°C), so it will properly freeze in your ice cream maker. When the ice cream base is cold, it will encourage the growth of small ice crystals. Ice crystals play a huge role in achieving a smooth, creamy ice cream texture.
More Ice Cream Recipes
Looking for other homemade ice cream recipes to try? Check these out:
Don't forget to check out my Pinterest board for more delicious ice cream recipe inspiration.
Black Cherry Ice Cream (6 Ingredients)
- Add cherries, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and ¼ cup (60 ml) of water to a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cherries are softened and a syrup has formed in the bottom of the pan, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow cherries to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for later.
- Fill a large bowl with ice to use later as an ice bath. Set aside.
- Add heavy cream and whole milk to a heavy bottom pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to steam around 160°F (71°C).
- Meanwhile mix the remaining 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt with a fork until no lumps remain and everything is well incorporated.
- Once the cream and milk begin to steam, slowly add in sugar mixture in small batches, whisking continuously. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for an additional 2-3 minutes until the mixture has slightly thickened. You can check this by scooping a bit of the liquid up with a spoon and testing the thickness. Make sure the ice cream base does not boil at any point.
- Transfer mixture to a heatproof bowl and cool in an ice bath until mixture has stopped steaming. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture to prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill the ice cream base until it reaches around 40-42°F (4-5°C), or up to overnight.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process for about 20-25 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions. About two minutes before the ice cream is done churning, add cooked cherries and syrup a tablespoon at a time until well incorporated.
- The ice cream will be on the soft side but can be eaten right away or put into the freezer to "cure" or harden up for a couple of hours. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two weeks.