For the cherries:
1 24-ounce jar sour cherries (in juice)
1/2 cup sugar
For the ice cream:
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
To make the cherries: Combine the sugar and cherries, with their juice, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat slightly and simmer for about 30 minutes. The liquid will reduce a bit but won't thicken considerably. Cool to room temperature. Then drain the cherries, reserving the liquid in a bowl. Roughly chop the cherries.
To make the ice cream: In the bottom of a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese until loose. Set aside. Prepare an ice bath in a larger bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the half and half, making sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the rest of the half and half into a large pot and whisk in the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then simmer, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pot to medium-high heat, bring back to a boil, and cook for 1 more minute, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is combined. Add the salt, almond extract, and 1/4 cup of the reserved, sweetened cherry liquid. Set the bowl into the ice bath and cool, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is thoroughly chilled. This should take about 25 to 30 minutes. It's even better if you can refrigerate it for several hours or overnight, but it should freeze fine after the ice bath if it's completely cool.
Freeze in an ice cream maker, adding the cherries and chocolate at the very end or stirring them in after you stop the machine. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for at least 6 hours until firm.
This recipe has been updated — first published February 2009.