Caramelized White Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream

Caramelized White Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream
The other day, I stopped in to Salt and Straw, a popular ice creamery, and tasted one of their seasonal flavors: Caramelized White Chocolate & Strawberry. The ice cream was absolutely delicious, but it also made me realize that white chocolate is a lot more versatile than I thought. White chocolate is made up primarily of cocoa butter, milk and sugar, usually with some vanilla thrown into the mix. While dark chocolate will always have its fans, you can’t beat white chocolate when it comes to creaminess. White chocolate pairs extremely well with fruit flavors, as it doesn’t compete with them in the same way that stronger chocolates do. This Caramelized White Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream is a fantastic – and surprising – way to put white chocolate to great use in a dessert.

The ice cream starts with a generous amount of white chocolate, which serves as both the flavoring and the sweetener in this recipe. The white chocolate is cooked over medium-low heat on the stovetop until it begins to caramelize and turn golden brown, like a caramel. I recommend cooking it on a nonstick pan using a nonstick spatula for best results. The chocolate may clump together as you continue to stir it, but stick with it! It will begin to caramelize quickly and turn into a butterscotch-colored cream. Once it has caramelized, pour in some heavy cream. This will cause the caramelized mixture to seize up, just like adding cold milk to any hot caramel does, but keep simmering the mixture and it will melt together nicely. Combine that caramelized base with the remaining ingredients and you’re ready to churn.

I used a no-egg ice cream base for this recipe so that the flavor of the white chocolate would stand out, then added in the cherries after churning. The ice cream is velvety, with a subtle flavor of caramel and vanilla. It’s very elegant and very addictive. Feel free to try it with other berries. I used jarred cherries (drained, from Trader Joe’s) in mine, but fresh would be even better.

Caramelized White Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream
6-oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup fresh or jarred (and drained) cherries

In a medium, non-stick saucepan, cook white chocolate over medium-low heat until it begins to caramelize. The white chocolate will melt, then clump together before caramelizing, so stir continuously and be patient because it will come together after a few minutes.
Pour 1 cup of cream over the caramelized chocolate. This will seize the caramel, but keep simmering the cream and the caramel will melt smoothly.
Transfer caramel mixture to a large bowl and add in remaining ingredients. Chill for at least one hour, then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze as directed.
Once ice cream is churned, fold in cherries, then freeze until firm and scoopable, about 3 hours.

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