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Chocolate and almonds are both great pairings for cherries, so if you're trying to figure out how to use up your summer stone fruit stockpile (to say nothing of your leftover chunkies from other summer indulgences), why not use both? The nutty, bitter, roasted flavors of nuts and chocolate bring out all the great depth that quality cherries have to offer.
This cherry ice cream base is an easy one. It relies on roasting the fruit to concentrate juices and intensify their flavor. Once you've done that, all it needs is a quick blitz in a blender and a short time on the stove to cook a custard—no tempering eggs required. Homemade fruit ice creams are often icy because of fruit's high water content, but since you're essentially cooking a quart of cherries into 1 1/2 cups of concentrated cherry jam, this one is plenty creamy.
When shopping for cherries, seek out samples the smell and taste the sweetest. Tart, bland cherries might make tasty ice cream, but it'll be more cherry-flavored than actually cherry-ish. The best source for fruit may surprise you. Of the three I tried, including the farmers market, the dollar-a-pound cherries from a Chinatown grocery were the sweetest. Of course if you live in a state like Michigan, finding good cherries around now shouldn't be too great of a challenge. But if you're in a more cherry-deprived part of the country, it's worth hunting around. Frozen cherries are good options for sorbets, but won't take well to the roasting required in this recipe.
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