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Rhubarb and cherry ice cream dream

Category: Desserts,Recipes  |  Post by: Andrea Wong
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Mum rescued my rhubarb plant for me a couple of months ago where it was suffering in a sorry state of neglect: squashed under a pile of building rubble. With a bit of TLC from Mum, it rose up from the ground like a phoenix from the ashes. I think that she must have poured a whole bag of sheep pellets around it, because it sprang back with great vigour, producing beautiful thick stems.

It's the new year (happy new year!) and I watch every day as the weather tries to be summery. And summer means ice cream - no matter the weather - even if this year's has been less than spectacular. So I have been thinking about ice cream... ok, to be honest, summer just makes me think about ice cream more often than usual! 

It's no secret that I have a serious sweet tooth, but I also love the sharp tartness of rhubarb, especially when it's served with lots of sweet sweet custard. And being summer, a rhubarb ice cream was just crying out to be made. So here is my rhubarb ice cream dream.

Unfortunately my rhubarb isn't a very red variety, it's quite green. The beautiful redness of rhubarb is half the attraction for me. I could have just added a couple of drops of red food colouring, but I'm not a fan of the stuff, so I thought I'd add cherries to add the requisite redness.

I use the Cuisinart ice cream maker which is so easy to use, the only draw back is that it doesn't freeze the ice cream very well and you still need to pop the ice cream in the freezer for a few hours for it to firm up. But now that I think about it, I often use vanilla extract in the ice cream mix. This contains alcohol which has a higher freezing point than cream, so maybe that's been my problem. I'll just have to do another batch and find out!

The recipe is inspired by David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream recipe, with an adjustment for the vanilla extract and the addition of the rhubarb and cherries.

If you're new to ice cream making, here's some tips that I've learned along the way:

  • Chop any fruit finely, otherwise the ice cream will be icy where the juice in the fruit freezes
  • Add any fruit and vanilla extract near the end of the ice cream machine's cycle - adding these too early may affect the ice cream from freezing properly
  • Make sure the ice cream bowl is fully frozen - I freeze my machine's bowl for at least a couple of days
  • Make sure all the ingredients of the ice cream are fully chilled before putting them in the machine

Rhubarb and cherry ice cream dream

Makes approx 1.5 litres


1 cup full fat milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cream
5 egg yolks
300g rhubarb, chopped
2 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g cherries, finely chopped

  1. Put the milk, salt and sugar in a medium pot. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a small knife and add the seeds and the pot to the milk mixture. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then cover, remove from the heat and let it infuse for an hour
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk and slowly add about 1/4 cup of the milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the pot containing the remainder of the milk
  3. Constantly stir this custard mixture with a heat-resistant spatula over a low heat until the mixture thickens and the custard coats the back of the spatula
  4. Put the cream into a mixing bowl. Put a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream (straining out the vanilla bean and any lumps) and stir
  5. Let the mixture cool a little before putting it in the fridge to chill overnight
  6. To make the rhubarb, put the chopped rhubarb into a pot with the sugar (add more sugar if your rhubarb is still too tart). Cook gently for 10 minutes and set aside to cool before refrigerating
  7. Make the ice cream according to the ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions. Add the rhubarb, cherries and vanilla extract in the last 5 minutes of mixing
  8. Put the ice cream into a freezable container and pop it in the freezer for a few hours to allow it to firm


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  • 07/02/2012 11:07 a.m.

    Thanks for this recipe. I am often given rhubarb and cherries from people that grow them(lucky I know) and this is an exciting way to use them. I have also been given the greener variety of rhubarb and found I couldn't bring myself to use it as it wasn't red (also must be colour conscious).
  • 14/01/2012 11:50 a.m.
    Couscous & Consciousness

    Andrea, your ice cream looks amazing. Home made ice cream is one of my favourite things to do - any time of the year. I keep the bowl of my ice cream maker permanently in the freezer, so it is always good to go, and then when I make a custard base or ice cream or a fruit puree for sorbet, I chill that at least 12 hours (or overnight) before churning. I still find that the churned ice cream then needs to go into the freezer for at least a couple of hours to firm up a bit before serving - I think that is pretty common to most machines, but definitely alcohol content will play a part in that too.

    Sue xo
  • 05/01/2012 8:47 p.m.

    That just looks perfect for a hot summer's day! (or any day, really). Here's hoping the weather cooperates a bit more now that it's January :)