Sour Cherry Cobbler with (lower-fat) Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I have to confess here, people, that when you have a busy, bustling kitchen, there are times you’re going to lose things.  Or you will forget things.  Until one day you reach back into the deepest, darkest recesses of the freezer; back behind the half of lemon cake that you’re saving for when the next lemon craving hits unannounced, and back behind the Ziploc bag of chicken bones waiting to be turned into stock, and even further back behind the baguette that will probably end up as breadcrumbs.  Yes, I’m talking all the way in back in that corner there.  That’s where I found this bag of sour cherries that my son and daughter-in law brought me last summer.  They picked them from a friend’s tree and I stuck them in the freezer, and then it was Thanksgiving, and then it was Christmas, and then we went to California for a month, and then the other day I moved some things around in the freezer, and you cannot imagine my joy at discovering those cherries, waiting ever so patiently to be found and turned into something as scrumptious as this cobbler.

Oh, and it was,indeed, ever so scrumptious.  I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve cooked with sour cherries.  And as much as I love cooking with sweet cherries during the summer, I am so devoted now to these little flavor bombs that I will be hard-pressed to go back.  They really are so much more complex and interesting and frankly, delicious. 

And what’s a cherry cobbler without ice cream, I ask you?  I don’t even know what year it was that I last bought a carton of ice cream.  If you have a counter-top ice cream maker, you’re only a few hours away from some darn tasty vanilla bean ice cream that’s super easy to make, lower in fat (no cream) and one that retains a perfect texture no matter how long it’s frozen.  Well, I’ve never actually tested that last one beyond a couple of weeks. 

I like knowing that there are only 5 ingredients in my ice cream, and that they’re all words I recognize.  This here recipe uses half and half, egg yolks, sugar and a vanilla bean.  That’s it.  You can (and I do) add a little extra vanilla and a pinch of salt, but that’s it.  Let your ice cream maker do the rest.

Oh, and next time you find a treasure like frozen cherries buried in the back of your freezer, keep looking.  You might also find a bag of peeled, sliced peaches from your daughters’ trees last summer.  Score!

Sour Cherry Cobbler

Click here for a printable recipe

4 cups of frozen pitted sour cherries, thawed and drained

3 T cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 9 or 10-inch pie crust, homemade or frozen

Place the frozen cherries in a colander set in a bowl.  Let the cherries thaw, collecting their juices.  You will need about 1 ½ cups of juice.

Pour the juice from the cherries into a small saucepan along with the cornstarch, salt and sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.  Let cool.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a 1 ½ to 2-quart baking dish.  Mix the thickened cherry sauce with the cherries and pour into the prepared baking dish.  Top with your crust.  Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble through the slits.

Serve warm or at room temperature with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

Lower-Fat Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

click here for a printable recipe

3 cups half and half

3 egg yolks

2/3 to 3/4 cups sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

Bring the half and half, sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds to a boil.  Whisk the egg yolks together.

Once the cream mixture has come to a rolling boil, turn off the heat. Take 1 cup of the hot cream mixture and stream it slowly into the yolks, whisking.

Slowly pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan. Whisk. Turn the flame on low and cook until the base thickens slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, as the mixture will curdle.(I sometimes add a little more vanilla extract at this point).

Chill 2 to 3 hours or preferably overnight.

If you want to make more or less ice cream, the rule of thumb here is one egg yolk and a scant 1/4 cup sugar for each cup of dairy.

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