Our backyard-to-backyard neighbours have ridiculously tall, bushy, and super productive cherry trees that’s overflowing with fruit. It’s been teasing me daily since the beginning of June. They graciously invited us over to pick some cherries a few weeks ago and then this guy….he went straight to the top of the tallest tree for the sweetest and juiciest cherries.
I think I’ll keep him.
We ate most of the cherries fresh, gave some away, and the rest (at this point, a little bit past their prime) were destined for something jam-like.
I love home-made jam, almost too much. I don’t make it often because I end up eating jam by the spoonful, and it’s mostly sugar, so yeah….not making it is the only method of self control around here.
Jam-like sauces, however, are fair game. They’re made by cooking fruit with a little bit of maple syrup, and end up fruit-heavy with just enough sweetness to bring out the fruit flavour. They can be canned just like jam, but are more suitable for topping ice cream and pancakes than spreading on toast.
Cherry sauce is great, but you’re probably here for the chocolate amaretto ice cream, right? Me too.
I’m a relatively new believer in cashew-based ice cream. Full-on cream + sugar ice cream is a great summer pleasure that I never really wanted to mess with. But I do like to change things up and I’m always game for a cooking challenge, especially when it results in having my mind blown by something I didn’t think was possible: delicious ice cream without cream or sugar.
I bookmarked Ashlae’s Raw Chocolate Pistachio Gelato from Oh Lady Cakes, many months back, with thoughts that if one day I ever have to make ice cream for someone that doesn’t eat dairy, that this would be it.
A recent abundance of overripe bananas led me to try the Rawkin’ Funky Monkey ice cream from My New Roots by Sarah Britton, and I was skeptical but pretty surprised with how much I enjoyed it, opening my heart to this whole vegan ice cream thing.
Then….last week, I had a sesame ice cream with chunks of halva from the Brixton Grill folks at the Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market, and it totally sealed the deal. I went back to ask how they got it so creamy, so un-icy, and so damn delicious. The lovely ice cream lady gladly revealed that the secret lies in the generous addition of cocoa butter and coconut oil to max out on the fat content. Fat, just like in dairy-based ice cream, makes it creamy and delicious.
I went back to Ashlae’s recipe. I loved how it was sweetened with dates, but based on my recent discovery, it didn’t seem to have nearly enough fat for the outcome that I wanted (Ashlae went for a more gelato-like consistency). I increased the cashew to water ratio and added in some melted dark chocolate + coconut oil. Since the cherry sauce was going on top, a few shots of amaretto seemed appropriate too, especially since alcohol helps keep the ice cream from freezing into a solid brick.
Thank you Ashlae, Sarah, and the lovely ice cream lady at Brixon Grill for inspiring this recipe.
Cheers to summmerrrrr!!!!
Special equipment: Ice cream maker and a high speed blender
Ice cream adapted from this Raw Chocolate Pistachio Gelato recipe from Oh Lady Cakes.
- 1 lb of pitted sweet cherries (weigh after pitting)
- 4 oz of maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 3/4 cups cashews
- 1 3/4 cups filtered water + more for soaking
- 12 pitted Medjool dates ( I love Natural Delights )
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- a few pinches of salt
- 3 oz. dark chocolate (at least 70%), finely chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
- To make the cherry sauce: Combine pitted cherries with maple syrup and lemon juice in a small heavy sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for a few minutes to release the juices.
- Remove the lid after a few minutes and continue simmering for about 45 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- You can process the sauce in a water bath for long-term preservation (here are instructions ) or store in a jar, in the fridge, for around a few weeks. Chill overnight before serving. See note for safety, scaling, and adjustments.
- For the ice cream: Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Soak the pitted dates in warm filtered water for about 15 minutes.
- Drain the cashews and combine with an equal amount of fresh filtered water in a high speed blender (see note for blender options).
- Blend on high for about 45 seconds, until smooth.
- Drain the dates and add them, along with cacao and salt, then blend on high again, until completely smooth. Taste the mixture at this point. It should have a thick, custard-like consistency, with no chunks of nuts or dates. Blend for longer if necessary, but take care to make sure the mixture doesn't get too hot.
- In a small sauce pan, gently melt the chopped chocolate and coconut oil. Remove from heat, and cool to a barely warm temperature.
- Add the warm chocolate/coconut oil mixture, vanilla extract, and amaretto to the the blender and pulse a few times, at a low speed, to incorporate.
- Refrigerate the mixture in the blender for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- When the mixture is completely chilled, return the container to the blender, and give it another few low-speed pulses.
- Process in your ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Serve right away as soft serve, or transport into a glass container with a lid and continue freezing for a harder ice cream.
- When fully frozen, remove from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for up to 15 minutes (depending on how cold your freezer is) before scooping to soften the ice cream.
- Serve with cherry sauce + enjoy :)
Fruit sauce safety: Most fruit (including cherries) are safe to preserve using the water-bath canning method. A high amount of sugar is typically used to thicken and set jam but it's not necessary for preservation when the sauce is properly canned. If storing the sauce in the fridge, then the acidity/sweetness of the fruit and amount of added sugar will certainly impact how long it will keep, and it's hard to predict, so keep an eye on it.
Fruit sauce adjustments: I used a 4:1 (weight) ratio of fruit to maple syrup. Feel free to scale the recipe or tweak the ratio to your own preferences. You can try other fruit and other sweeteners, but make sure to research canning safety if you intend on canning it and using low-acid fruit.
Blenders: I used a Blendtec for this ice cream pictured. If you're trying this recipe with a blender other than a Blendtec or Vitamix, I can't predict your results, as a really smooth base is key for the success of this recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment below with your blender model and outcome...I would love to know how it worked out!