I have nothing against vanilla ice cream as a concept. Or strawberry, mint chocolate chip, or coconut—three of my go-to classic ice cream flavors.
But when I’m looking at the lineup at an ice cream shop (or dreaming up my own varieties), it’s often too hard to resist the quirkier offerings.
Goat cheese sour cherry ice cream is most certainly one of those flavors that straddles the line between familiar and foreign.
Like cream cheese, goat cheese gives ice cream a luscious texture that ups the dairy ante, but with a more pronounced tanginess that makes you stop and think for a bit.
In fact, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, one of the pioneers of oddball flavors, uses cream cheese as a primary ingredient in its homemade base.
So it’s not surprising that one of the company’s first offerings was a goat cheese flavor studded with red cherries.
This is not that recipe, however.
For one, with all respect to Jeni’s eggless method, I’m going with a more traditional egg custard base here.
It’s the Ample Hills template, FYI, to pull from another one of my favorite cult ice cream brands.
And more importantly, instead of roasted red cherries, I’m upping the tart and tangy element of this ice cream flavor with a fresh sour cherry compote.
(This is why you store pounds of sour cherries in your freezer, by the way. You never know when the urge for sour cherry compote might strike.)
Goat cheese sour cherry ice cream is one of those pairings that I love for the way it gets right up to the edge of an unusual taste without becoming off-putting or weird for weird’s sake.
The goat cheese flavor is subtle and tempered by sweetness. If a spoonful was handed to you without explanation, you might think it was mascarpone instead.
That’s not super crazy, right?
Same goes for the sour cherries. Bathed in a juicy syrup, they’re cooked whole, so each bite has a pop of sweet-tart cherry flavor.
The overall effect is nostalgic but new, comforting but contemporary, and just what we all need this summer.
Give goat cheese sour cherry ice cream a go and see how much fun a new flavor can be.
- 1 pound pitted fresh sour cherries
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Goat Cheese Ice Cream
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 60 grams nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 4-ounce log fresh goat cheese
Make the cherry compote:
- Heat the cherries and sugar in a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the liquid comes to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, until the cherries are slightly shriveled and the liquid has darkened and thickened to a loose syrup.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Carefully ladle the cherries and syrup into a heatproof jar.
- Cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate until fully chilled.
Make the ice cream:
- Pour the sugar, milk powder, whole milk, and cream into a high-sided 1- to 2-quart saucepan.
- Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the sugar and milk powder to hydrate, then whisk until combined, making sure there are no lumps of milk powder remaining.
- Place over medium-low heat and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
- Heat, whisking occasionally, to 110 degrees F, then remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl such as a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
- Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs until combined, then return the liquid to the pan, whisking constantly.
- Return to the heat and continue to cook until the candy thermometer reaches 165 degrees F, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula.
- While the custard heats, get two large-ish heatproof bowls that can fit into one another with a little bit of wiggle room, and fill the larger bowl with ice and enough water to make a slurry. (Hint: this is what Pyrex nesting bowls were born to do!)
- Place the smaller bowl into the ice bath.
- Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into the smaller bowl.
- Crumble the goat cheese into the custard and stir to incorporate.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bowl from the ice bath.
- Refrigerate the custard for 2-3 hours, until fully chilled.
Assemble the ice cream:
- Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and process following the manufacturer's instructions.
- When the ice cream has set, spread a layer into a freezable lidded container with a silicone spatula.
- Spoon cherry compote over the ice cream, then repeat with the remaining ice cream and compote.
- Cover and freeze for 6-8 hours to harden the ice cream before scooping.
This recipe makes more compote than you'll need to finish the batch. Serve the extra on the side as a sundae topping, mix it into plain Greek yogurt, or spoon over waffles or pancakes.
Cherry compote can be made and refrigerated up to 2 weeks in advance. Ice cream base can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance of processing in an ice cream maker.
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