Big Papa has a picture of me sitting on his desk that was taken during my college days, back in the late-1970s. In it, I’m barefoot and wearing an Indian-printed skirt, long dark hair flowing over my shoulders.
I was a hippie chick, no doubt about it. A vegetarian who didn’t wear leather, I recycled, shopped at the food co-op and lived in group house where our homemade pasta dried next to our thrift store clothes on the clothesline in the backyard. I was organic when organic was cool the first time around.
And, yeah, I listened to the Grateful Dead. I wasn’t a ‘Deadhead’ that’s for sure, but plenty of my friends were. So in 1987, when Ben & Jerry launched “Cherry Garcia” ice cream, you can bet I was one of the first to buy a pint. As the famous ice cream duo put it, Cherry Garcia was: “Our euphorically edible tribute to guitarist Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead fans everywhere.”
Folks went gaga over Cherry Garcia along with all the other flavors of Ben & Jerry creamy goodness, so a recipe book followed. Now B&J addicts could whip up their own back at the ranch. Of course, these days all you have to do is type “Ben & Jerry Cherry Garcia recipe” into a search engine and you’ll be assaulted with a million Cherry Garcia recipe knock-offs without ever having to buy the book.
Since my fridge remains ‘cherry-laden’ after my tour of Yakima Valley a couple weeks ago, I decided a homemade version of Cherry Garcia would be just the thing to celebrate the official start of summer (at least by calendar if not by Seattle’s weather). I checked out a few recipes online and landed on one, which I tweaked a bit (as per usual with me).
Let’s just say the results were [tie]-dye for! So grab that psychedelic tee tucked in the back corner of your dresser drawer, load some ‘Dead’ on your iPod and sit yourself down in the sunshine with a scoop or two. You’ll be “truckin’ like the do-dah man” for sure because this Cherry Garcia ice cream is euphoria in a bowl.
Cherry Garcia Ice Cream with Sage and Theo Chocolate
Cook’s note: I confess I like my Cherry Garcia chock full of cherries and chocolate (but not smarmy sweet with jam like some of the recipes I saw). For me cherries are a good thing (healthy-antioxidants!) and chocolate is a good thing (um, antioxidants), so more of both is simply more of a good thing. But that’s me.
- 1/4-1/2 cup shaved dark chocolate (my version is chocolate-heavy). I use our local fav, Theo Chcolate. Chop the bar up with a chef’s knife.
- 1/4-1 cup fresh Bing cherries, pitted and quartered (I lean toward the 1 cup amount myself)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
- 1 cup milk or half-and-half
- 1 vanilla bean, slice open and “vanilla” scraped out*
- 5 or so fresh sage leaves* — this is where I really add my own je ne sais quoi to the recipe
- pinch of salt
- Place the shaved chocolate flakes and the pitted cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.
- Heat the milk (or half and half), cream, salt, and ½ cup of the sugar, vanilla bean (scraped vanilla and bean “pod”) and sage leaves (slightly chopped) in a saucepan until just before boiling. Do not let it boil! Cover and let steep for a half-hour to infuse the vanilla and sage flavor.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl with the remaining ¼ cup sugar, and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl.
- Chill thoroughly, and transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions (about 20-25 minutes). After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the shaved chocolate and chopped cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.
- Serve with a few chopped fresh cherries and a sprig of sage. Peace, man!
She’s a summer love for spring, fall or winter. She can make happy any man alive.
~Grateful Dead, Sugar Magnolia
It’s all about the journey,