White Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

When I ran a poll on Facebook asking which of four cherry themed ice creams I should do next, white chocolate cherry ice cream was the winner.

I started with the White Chocolate Ice Cream in David Lebovitz’ The Perfect Scoop.  This is one of my two favourite ice cream books.  I have the original 2008 edition, but I’ve given you the link for the new and revised 10 year anniversary edition here.

Simplifying the Method

Having given reference to my source material, I made lots of changes.  First, the recipe calls for 8 ounces (230 grams) of white chocolate, but the packages of Baker’s white chocolate from the grocery store are 6 ounces.  I just took the plunge and used 6 ounces without otherwise altering the recipe to accommodate the change in fat or sugar content.  I did add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract in case it needed a flavour boost, but I’m not sure this was necessary.

Next, I did this “Philadelphia style”, by dropping the 5 egg yolks from the original master recipe.  I virtually never use the egg custard style of ice cream.  In this case, the white chocolate was going to add so much fat to the recipe that I really thought an egg yolk custard was completely unnecessary.

Finally, as I customarily do, I replaced the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with 5% cream and added a small amount of vodka to help guard against ice crystal formation.

Use Your Microwave

Although I usually try to avoid cooking the ice cream base at all, in this case you really do need to heat the dairy to melt the white chocolate and mix the two together smoothly.  However, I saw no need to do this on the stove.  I came up with a simple microwave method that is quick and won’t heat your kitchen up on a hot summer day.

Honestly, the texture is fine and rich.  I really didn’t miss the egg yolks or the whipping cream.

Roasted Cherries

I also added roasted cherries to the recipe.  Lebovitz specifies that if you are going to do a cherry variant, the cherries should be “well drained”.  Again, I can figure out why he said that. If you add the cherries in to the machine with their syrup for the last few minutes, it will dye the entire ice cream pink and the syrup flavour would swamp the more delicate white chocolate.  If you want a white coloured ice cream studded with little cherries, then you do need to drain the syrup.

Problem is, I found that doing it this way meant that the cherries were a bit tasteless.  A lot of the cherry flavour had roasted into the syrup, so I poured it over the top as a topping.

One thing I did keep was the 2/3 cup sugar in the original.  Sugar is important for texture and scoopability;  2/3 cup is actually quite a low volume of sugar for a 1 quart ice cream recipe.   But honestly?  Even with reduced white chocolate, the final white chocolate cherry ice cream was a little too sweet for me.

Having said that, Mark just loved this and polished it off.  So, two different people, two different opinions.


Roasted Cherries

Cooking the fruit lightly with sugar helps reduce the water content.  This helps keep the fruit soft and flavourful when it is frozen.

  • 1 cup pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup sugar (increase to 1/2 cup if using the same quantity of sour cherries)
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  1. Pit the cherries.  This is the only part of the prep that takes time.  If the cherries are already pitted, this will take 5 minutes to knock together and 5 minutes to cook.

  2. Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 5 minutes total on high power, stirring frequently after each minute. 

  3. Cool completely while you make the ice cream.

If cherries aren’t yet available, try swapping out the cherries for roasted strawberries.  Combine 1 cup of sliced strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave on high for a total of 5 minutes or until the juices start to thicken, stirring after every minute.


White Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups 5% cream
  • 1 tbsp vodka
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  1. Put the chopped chocolate pieces in a large bowl.

  2. Put the milk, sugar and salt in a 2 cup pyrex or other microwave-safe dish.  Microwave at full power for 2 minutes.  Stir.  Note, microwaves vary widely in power so you may need to adjust the time.  Since I’m not using eggs, there is no pasteurization issue. Your goal here is to heat the milk enough to dissolve the sugar and melt the chocolate in the next step.  In my microwave, 2 minutes was enough to get the job done.

  3. Pour the heated milk mixture over the white chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in the cream.  Chill in the fridge until cold.

  4. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When the ice cream is done, or a minute or two before the time is up, add the drained roasted cherries to the machine so they get distributed. 

  5. It will be very soft coming out of the machine.  Put it in a container in the freezer to harden up for an hour or two.  Serve topped with more roasted cherries and their syrup.

If this is your first time making ice cream, check out my basic tips for making ice cream here.

Try my recipe for homemade vanilla extract.  Vanilla is CRAZY expensive now.  If you make a lot of desserts, making your own vanilla is really cost-effective and the vanilla scent is so strong and beautiful when you open the bottle.   I just keep adding more vodka to the bottle and shaking it up.  As long as I still get that scent and see the colour developing as it sits on the shelf, I’ll keep using those same six vanilla beans.  I can’t imagine how much it would have cost me to buy this much vanilla extract retail at the store over the year since I first made it.


  1. Hi Ellen, I love your posts in your foodie adventures and wish I was in the kitchen with you! Are the cherries the sour variety or can regular bing cherries be used? Have you used other brands of white chocolate? How much is a little vodka?

    And finally, here in the states we don’t have 5% cream. There is heavy whipping cream, half and half and whole milk. Would you think that half and half would be the same?

    • So glad you enjoyed, Barb! My general rule is 1 tablespoon of vodka per quart. In this case, I am also using homemade vanilla extract, which is really made by soaking vanilla beans in vodka so essentially it is a second tablespoon of vodka. As for the cherries, good question. Usually I cook exclusively with sour cherries. They have a brighter flavour. In this particular case, I used sweet cherries simply because it’s what I had. In the recipe for the roasted cherries there is a variant for how to change the sugar depending on whether you are using sweet or sour cherries. Interesting about the cream. Here, half and half means 10%. Look, it’s all between you and your cholesterol, isn’t it? I want my ice cream to be delicious and creamy but also pull the fat down as low as I can without compromising the creamy mouthfeel. For me, that’s 5% cream. 10% will be richer, for sure. But honestly, I’ve had times when I only had half-and-half but really wanted 5%, so you know what I do? I just play with volumes. It’s all about water vs fat content. For instance, instead of using 1 cup of whole milk and 2 cups of half-and-half cream, you could flip the proportions around and do 2 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of half-and-half. It will still taste great, just fewer calories. You can really monkey around a fair bit with these recipes. We need to get together and collaborate. Last winter we talked about cranberries – wanna do a cranberry mini-series together?