When I was nineteen my family took a trip to Europe. It was one beautiful and long month of togetherness: two weeks on a tour of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Italian Alps; two weeks on our own in Italy. My siblings and I were very lucky to be included in what was probably my father's mid-life crisis, especially since we were likely the cause. We enjoyed gelato daily during those hot July weeks in Italy. If you've had gelato in Italy you understand. It's flavorful and light and very cold. It may be the only thing in Europe that is truly cold in the summer. We each had flavors to which we gravitated. My brother, who was nine, could say in perfect Italian, limone, fragola, stracciatella. My father always chose frutti di bosco, literally translated, 'fruit of the woods'. Here we'd call it mixed berry. He didn't just order though. He ordered lyrically and ceremoniously like it was a revelation since he last ordered it the day before. He'd get this look of satisfaction like he really made the superior choice each time.
It's frutti di bosco season out here in Redneck Paisanaville. We had the privilege of picking black raspberries on a very generous friend's property. As soon as we started picking I thought to myself, Oh, so this is frutti di bosco, because we were picking berries in the woods. And I have to say my appreciation for frutti di bosco grew that day. Raspberries grow on brambles. Also, daddy long legs love eating them so not only to you get pricked and scratched, but there are creepy arachnids too (They're not spiders, but they are arachnids). Regardless of thorns and bugs, it was a great afternoon and we went home with over six pounds of black raspberries yielding a batch of this black raspberry jam, a black raspberry crumble, and plenty for fresh eating. Berries have never been my fruit of choice, but seeing those little jewels in a mess of thorny brambles guarded by menacing creatures adds a certain dimension to their character. Furthermore, eating fruit in season directly from the source makes one understand its true flavor. Store berries are forgeries at best.
We also picked over sixteen pounds of fruit from the sour cherry tree on the property eliciting this heavenly sour cherry jam, several quarts of cherry vinegar, over five liters of this sour cherry vodka infusion, a quart of kirsch, and this sour cherry crumble (minus the cinnamon and walnuts).
|sour cherry crumble|
Then, in what must have been divine intervention, I had a few cups of pitted cherries left over and simultaneously saw the last several ounces of amaretto in the bottom of the bottle. Sour cherry amaretto gelato was born. As I type the words I get that same feeling of satisfaction my father must have had every time he ordered frutti di bosco. I understand how it really is the superior choice, like those cherries were destined for that flavor combination, like nothing at that moment could possibly be better. If I could, I would order it lyrically and ceremoniously too. Instead, I'll share the recipe.
Sour Cherry Amaretto Gelato
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 oz amaretto
Place cherries and sugar in saucepan, crush, and boil to syrupy consistency. Bring to room temp and cool for several hours or overnight. Heat milk and cream in a saucepan until small bubbles form around the edge, but do not bring to a boil. While heating, mix egg yolks and sugar in a mixer until it 'forms ribbons'. Once milk has formed bubbles, turn off heat and temper egg mixture by slowly mixing in a few ladles of milk mixture. Return milk and cream to low heat and slowly whisk in tempered egg mixture. Stir over low heat until thick and covers the back of a spoon. Chill for several hours or overnight. Pour custard into ice cream maker and stir in cherries and several ounces of amaretto. Process according to manufacturers instructions. Chill for at least an hour before serving.