Summer has finally declared, “I am ALL IN”, and we couldn’t be happier. The season of basking in the sunshine, sipping fruity drinks and snacking on frozen treats has got to be the most fun inducing season of them all. Sure Christmas is fun, you say and it is glorious, but at the same time it’s sadly short lived. Summer is here to stay for 3 months! And although I have no time off work to take full advantage of these beautiful sun-filled days I am choosing to treat my weekends as mini-holidays. I am soaking up as much sunshine, the smell of the grass and even occasional weekend trips to the beach as much as I can because nothing says rest and regroup better than the salty spray of the sea. What else am I doing to trick myself into thinking I am on holiday? Eating gelato, of course!
I don’t eat ice cream regularly, in fact I hardly ever eat ice cream. It’s not exactly a health food and I don’t really feel like I am missing out. My attitude changes drastically whenever we are in Italy. I want gelato ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t even have to be hot. I just want to consume huge amounts of it for days on end. Thankfully, I never have to look for a reason to justify it because my kids start to beg for gelato the minute we step off the plane. One of our best family moments is to choose 4 different flavours to fill a tub in a gelateria at the end of a long day, then go to our hotel room and attack it like a pack of animals. My only request is for that place not being my bed. Eating gelato is a messy business!
We all have our favourite kind of gelato. My kids are ever so faithful to fragola aka strawberry gelato, Brad is a huge fan of pistachio gelato and my heart belongs to gelato all’amarena; smooth and luscious vanilla ice cream threaded with ribbons of amarena cherry preserves. Don’t be fooled though – it’s not your regular cherry ice cream that’s been given a name makeover but rather a revelation everyone should discover at one point of their life.
*Look for Amarena cherry preserves in an Italian section of your supermarket or deli.
I was absolutely determined to re-create this favourite of mine at home and after a bit of searching I stumbled upon a beautiful and simple recipe by 3 Italian sisters living in England that looked like something I wasn’t intimidated to tackle at home. The recipe was adapted from here and was I ever pleased with the result! And here is the best part…no ice-cream maker required!
I don’t own an ice cream maker but I did borrow one from my friend because I wanted to experiment. I divided the mixture into half and churned one half in an ice cream maker but left the other one un-churned- simply put it in a freezable container and left it in the freezer for 5 hours. No one could tell the difference between the two. No joke!
The vanilla base for this gelato is a combination of double cream or whipping cream and sweet and condensed milk. I know I already got your attention by the mere mention of sweet and condensed milk. That stuff is pure magic! I also added a splash of Creme de Cassis because a bit of alcohol prevents ice-crystals from forming and helps create silky smooth texture. It doesn’t taste boozy at all, I promise you!
- 500ml/ 2 cups-double cream/whipping cream
- 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp- chopped amarena cherries
- 2 tbs- amarena syrup
- 3 tablespoons- Creme de Cassis or any other flavour you love
- Whip double cream with sweet and condensed milk and vanilla essence just until soft peaks form. Don't overbeat, we are not looking for whipped cream here.
- Fold in creme de cassis.
- If using an ice cream machine, pour the vanilla base in and start churning for 10-15 minutes.
- Gently swirl chopped cherries in and put in the freezer to firm up for 5-7 hours.
- If not using an ice cream machine pour in the vanilla base into a freezer safe container and put in the freezer for 1 hour.
- Remove from the freezer and swirl in chopped cherries, continue freezing for 5-7 hours.
- Before serving sprinkle with the syrup from the preserves.
* I’ve submitted this recipe to #TuscanyNowCookOff competition. I really hope to win!! 🙂