crème brûlée ice cream (with rum soaked cherries)
by pierre herme

2 ¼ cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
5 plump/moist vanilla beans, split lengthwise & scraped (save pulps & pods)
10 large egg yolks
1 cup + 2 tb white sugar

(I added in about 1 cup of rum soaked black cherries to the ice cream mix: 1 cup of chopped black cherries soaked overnight in about 3 TB of dark rum)

Bring the milk, cream and vanilla beans (pulp & pods) to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set the mixture aside for 1 hor.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 210 F or as close to the temp as possible – 200 F or 22 F will still be fine. Set aside 2 – 11 by 7 by 2-inch pans. (the pan size is not crucial – what’s important is to use a pan or pans in which, when you add the custard, the mixture will form a layer that’s only ¾ inch thick).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until the mixture thickens slightly. Slowly strain the vanilla-infused liquid over the yolks, whisking to blend the ingredients but taking care not to beat in lots of air. Discard the vanilla bean pods.
Pour the mixture into the pans and slide them into the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the custard is just set, at which point it will still shimmy when shifted but a knife inserted in it will come out clean. Transfer the pans to cooling racks and allow the custard to cool to room temp., then refrigerate the custard for 2 hours, or until thoroughly chilled.

the caramel
1/3 cup + 1 ½ tb white sugar
4 ts salted butter, room temp
1/3 cup heavy cream

Working in a deep saucepan, caramelize the sugar: place the pan over medium heat. Sprinkle about 2 tb of the sugar over the center of the pan and when the sugar starts to melt and color, stir it with a wooden spoon. When all the sugar is caramel colored, add another 2 tb of sugar and cook and stir as before. Continue until all of the sugar is cooked and the caramel is a deep mahogany color – test the color by dropping a bit on a white plate. Careful with this next step! Standing away from the pan, stir in the butter. Then, still standing back, add the heavy cream. Don’t be alarmed if the caramel erupts in big bubbles – it’s normal. Stir the caramel until well blended and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel into a heatproof container: a glass measuring cup with a spout is perfect. Set aside at room temp until needed.

1. Pour the chilled custard into the container of a blender (or use a food processor or immersion blender) and whir until the cream is smooth and once again liquid. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions. Remove the ice cream from the machine, pack it into a freezer container, and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour before proceeding. (You can freeze the ice cream longer, but it’s easier to mix with the caramel when it’s still in the soft-freeze stage).
2. To turn the crème into creme brulee, you can add the caramel in one of two ways. The most elegant way to combine the two elements and prepare the ice cream for serving is to layer the ice cream and caramel in a terrine. (see step 3. for the second way of adding the caramel to the ice cream). If you have a metal terrine made especially for ice cream, one with a lid, use it; if not, a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan will be fine. Line the bottom of the terrine with a layer of ice cream – don’t worry about getting a smooth layer – then drizzle a layer of caramel over the cream. Continue in this way until the terrine is filled; aim for about four layers ice cream and three of caramel. Cover the terrine tightly with its lid or a double layer of plastic wrap and store in the freezer until set. To serve, you can either scoop or slice. If you decide to scoop the ice cream out of the terrine, dig into the terrine so that each scoop has both ice cream & caramel. If you’re going to slice the terrine, it’s best to unmold it first. Dip the terrine briefly into a basin of hot water, then turn it out onto a serving plate and cut into slices.
3. Alternatively, you can swirl the caramel into the ice cream into a large mixing bowl. Spoon about a quarter of the ice cream into the bowl, drizzle over about a third of the caramel, add more ice cream, and then add more caramel; continue in this fashion until all the ingredients are used. Now using a large, sturdy rubber spatula or metal serving spoon, fold the caramel into the ice cream. Don’t be too thorough – you want the ice cream to be swirled with caramel. (If you end up incorporating the caramel evenly throughout the ice cream, you’ll produce the world’s best caramel ice cream). Pack the ice cream into a freezer container, seal tightly, and store in the freezer until set. Keeps in freezer for about 1 week. Makes 1 ½ quarts.
Note: I added in my chopped black cherries soaked in rum when I added in the caramel, about 3/4 cup.