After a tireless weekend chasing the sun we decided to call it quits Sunday, and head home early. Faced with a lazy afternoon and evening at home, I figured there was no better time to turn the bags of fresh cherries we had carted back from country into something truly special…
A fresh Cherry and Rhubarb Compote is topped with sweet and smoky Vanilla Pepper Ice Cream all served straight up in a stem glass with a Pink-Chocolate Puff Pastry twist!
The ice cream gets a surge of spice and a hint of heat from the asian smoked black peppercorns that are infused with the scent of cherry from the cherry tree wood used to smoke them. The subtle sweetness actually comes from the pink peppercorn in this dish:
Baring a rather deceptive name, the pink peppercorn is actually a dried rose bush berry and is in fact more perfumed than it is peppery.
I know you maybe thinking this dessert was a large labor of love, but if done in stages I promise you it is really quite simple and can be put together in a snap for any shindig.
Make the ice cream one evening when you have some down time, freeze it, and it’s ready to be used anytime in the following 4 weeks… if it doesn’t disappear before that that it…
The compote can also be prepared ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge for a week, and even the twists can be baked as early as the day before if kept covered at room temp. I would love to dive into this late any night, but I think it is best appreciated after a simple grilled meat dish.
Marinate and grill up a flank steak or a deboned leg of lamb, serve with a fresh summer salsa verde, tomato salad, and grilled bread. Finish the midsummer’s night meal with this mind blowing cherry cocktail, and you’ll quickly forget about any summer storms that have come your way…
The Cherry Tree Sundae
Vanilla Pepper Ic Cream
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon Smoke Black Peppercorns, cracked *
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, cracked
1 vanilla bean
1 cup caster sugar
7 egg yolks
large pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pink peppercorn
1/4 teaspoon crack smoked black peppercorn
*find smoked black peppercorns at your local asian market or order online at several specialty food stores such as Dean and Deluca
1. Place all peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and lightly crack to release spice and aroma. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds from the inside with a pairing knife.
2. Bring milk, cream, peppercorns, vanilla seeds and pod to a quick simmer in a heavy sauce pot. Remove from heat and let infuse for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
3. Separate 7 yolks into a large mixing bowl. Remove vanilla pod from sauce pot, and bring the infused mixture to scalding, but do not boil, adding a pinch of sea salt.
4. While waiting for the mixture to heat up, add the sugar to the yolks and whisk immediately to fully incorporate. When the milk mixture is hot and steaming but not simmering, add 1/4 of the mixture to the egg mixing bowl, and whisk thoroughly to incorporate and temper the egg yolks. Add in another 1/3 of the milk mixture and whisk again thoroughly and then return the entire hot egg mixture to sauce pan and whisk to combine off the heat.
5. With a marise or spatula, stir the mixture over medium heat to thicken and cook gently. Be sure to continuously stir the mixture, scraping the bottoms and sides of the sauce pan so that no part of the liquid catches and begins to scramble the eggs. Cook until thick, or when the mixture coats the back of the spatula and a line made through the mixture on that back of the spoon holds. This will resemble a light custard sauce.
6. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and make sure the pepper taste is strong enough as it will loose strength and flavor when it cools. * I now add in 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of 3 parts cracked pink peppercorns and 1 part cracked smoked black peppercorns for flavor and color.
7. Cool mixture completely in a bowl over an ice bath in the fridge, stirring occasionally. This should take about 30-40 minutes and can be sped up by alternating periods in the freezer if watched carefully.
8. When the custard is completely cold, transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to directions, or until the ice cream has form to desire consistency. It usually 20-25 minutes in my cuisinart ice cream maker.
9. Transfer to an air tight container and freeze overnight… Although about 4 hours later it should have reached perfect ice-s-cream-ability…
Cherry Rhubarb Compote
3 Rhubarb spears
1/2 pound fresh cherries, pitted and halved (to insure all pits are removed)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon/lime juice (from 2 limes and 2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1. Wash, pitt, and halve cherries. Wash rhubarb and cut into 1 inch pieces and halve the 1 inch pieces length wise.
2. Place fruit in a sauce pan and add a splash of water, and half the sugar.
3. Bring to a quick boil and then simmer on low for 1-2 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, mix the lemon/lime juice with the arrowroot powder making sure to fully dissolve the powder. Add the citrus juice mix to the sauce pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring gently. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and the remaining sugar.
5. Mix and let cook, covered for about 3 minutes. Check consistency and cook uncovered until the fruit is sufficiently soft and the liquid syrupy in texture (about 2 more minutes). Let cool completely.
Peppercorn Chocolate Twist
1/2 chocolate puff pastry sheet (If not making my own, I use Darfour here in the states)
1 egg beaten
1/4 teaspoon powdered (icing) sugar
1/4 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
1. Prepare the egg wash by combining the crushed pink peppercorns with the egg and powdered sugar. Beat well to foam and combine.
2. Dust flat surface or pastry board with flour and roll out the puff pastry. A standard store bought sheet should come already rolled to the desired thickness.
3. Cut the pastry vertically (perpendicular to the long side of the rectangular sheet) creating 1/2 inch wide strips. Brush all strips with egg wash on both sides using a pastry brush. Twirl each strip to form long twists and press down the ends on a silpat mat on a baking sheet.
4. Bake twists for 18 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and brush top with a scant amount of honey, dusting a few pink peppercorns on top if desired. Let cool completely on silpat mat before serving.
To Serve the Sundae: Place warm or room temperature compote in a serving dish or glass. Top with peppercorn ice cream and pastry twist and some crushed pink peppercorns if desired. Finish with a cherry on top and… enjoy!