When the cherries are roasted, they stay softer and juicier in the ice cream — not freezing solid into icy cubes the way they would if they were still raw. The roasting also deepens and sweetens their flavor; it's rich and mellow, a perfect pair for coconut.
And let's talk about the coconut ice cream for a moment. I riffed off this recipe for super-basic, super-quick ice cream — it's still creamy and soft, but it requires a bit of mixing, nothing more. It tastes intensely like coconut — sweet and tropical. And it's so easy!
The cherries take a bit of time and work, of course, although if you can introduce a child (or, in my case, a husband) to the fun of a cherry pitter, your work might be minimal. (You can also use a pastry tip to pit cherries.) The cherries enhance the taste of the coconut; they are delicious together — although of course the coconut ice cream could stand on its own as well.
For roasted cherries
1 pound Bing cherries
2 tablespoons sugar
For coconut ice cream
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup cream
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Heat the oven to 450°F. Toss the cherries with the sugar and spread them out in one layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring several times, and watching to make sure the sugar and juices don't burn. Remove from the oven and let cool. Pit the cherries and set them aside.
Whisk together the ice cream ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the sweetened condensed milk has been thoroughly mixed into the cream.
Put the ice cream mix in your ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. When the ice cream is the texture of soft-serve, scrape it out and fold in the roasted pitted cherries. Transfer to a bowl or container and cover the ice cream with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is in full contact with the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for another 2 hours, or until firm.
Tip: Chill the separate ingredients (coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk) for an hour in the refrigerator before mixing everything together. This will help the mix be colder and therefore freeze faster when you put it in the ice cream maker.
(Images: Faith Durand)