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Serve up something unexpected this holiday with this recipe for spiced cranberry ice cream. Enjoy on its own or atop your favorite pie.
I was in one of those families that only served cranberry sauce straight from the can.
Despite living in Wisconsin, only a short drive from where much of the country’s cranberries are grown, we never made cranberry sauce from scratch. As a result I didn’t discover how much I actually enjoyed cranberries until I was an adult.
We have a small Thanksgiving, which means when I make a small batch of sauce just for myself, I have a lot of cranberries left over. Most of these work their way into baked goods, especially breakfasts.
However, I think this spiced cranberry ice cream might have taken the crown over all of them.
using fresh cranberries
During the holidays, fresh cranberries are incredibly cheap. I like to buy multiple bags in order to freeze the extra into smaller portions for recipes through the year.
When using cranberries for any recipe, be sure to wash them and sort through them for any that are mushed, shriveled, or discolored. Cranberries should be vibrant in color, ranging from dark to light red.
Cranberries that are fresh also bounce (they’re hollow!) but I don’t recommend you trying that in your kitchen!
making cranberry ice cream
You’ll notice that this recipe does not call for eggs, as many traditional ice creams do. I generally do not use eggs when making ice cream in order to keep the process as simple as possible.
Instead, I use heavy whipping cream to make sure the ice cream is rich and creamy. For a lighter ice cream, you might be able to use half and half or even milk, but your consistency might not be as creamy. I recommend trying this spiced cranberry ice cream recipe before making tweaks!
Before doing anything, remember to put your ice cream maker bowl into the freezer! It needs to freeze for at least 24 hours before churning, or your ice cream might not set properly.
This recipe calls for a cranberry puree, which starts on the stovetop. Combine the cranberries with water, sugar, and orange extract; boil briefly. After it boils you let it stand, and then push the cranberries through a food mill.
After whisking together the pulp, liquid from cooking, spices, and heavy cream, the mixture will need to chill completely before churning in your ice cream maker. I usually chill it for at least 4 hours, so plan ahead!
spices for cranberry ice cream
While cranberry ice cream is just dandy on its own without extra flavorings, because it’s the holidays I had to add some flavors to complement the season.
Orange is ideal for cranberries, so a bit of orange extract goes into the mix when cooking the cranberries. You can also use orange zest here instead — use what you have on hand!
Rather than pulling out multiple spices for this spiced cranberry ice cream, I used allspice.
Allspice is not a blend of spices but rather its own spice made from the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica. However, its flavor does taste like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, which makes it an excellent addition any time you want those warming flavors. Just a little bit will do!
A note about the bourbon in this recipe: Alcohol in ice cream helps keep it soft for scooping so I include it. You can skip it if you prefer.
serving spiced cranberry ice cream
What about adding a scoop to your hot chocolate, or on top of gingerbread waffles? The possibilities might just be endless.
Of course, a simple bowl of ice cream always hits the spot too!
Spiced Cranberry Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, or frozen and thawed
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- Combine berries, water, sugar, and orange extract in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Set a food mill fitted with the fine disk over a medium bowl. Pour contents of saucepan into the food mill and turn crank to force through cranberries. Be sure to scrape any puree off the bottom of the disk into the bowl. Discard skins. (Alternatively, use a blender or food processor to puree cranberries and then force through a fine sieve to remove skins.)
- Whisk in heavy cream, bourbon, and allspice. Cover and let mixture chill for at least four hours.
- Once chilled, pour into bowl of ice cream maker and chill according to manufacturer instructions.
- Be sure to plan ahead for chill time, and have your ice cream bowl already frozen.
- You can skip the bourbon if you prefer; this will make the ice cream somewhat harder for scooping.