One of the many things I love about food is the seemingly never-ending wealth of possibility.  Like with any artistic medium, each person can come up with their own interpretation or idea for a new dish.  It is always such fun to come across different or unexpected ways to use classic flavors.  Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Ice Creams smashing success is one such culinary mind who does this incredibly well.  I had the privilege of hearing her speak at an event I attended last summer and it was fascinating and inspiring to hear the story of her business, how it started from next to nothing and eventually grew into the awesomeness that it is today.  I’m telling you, this woman is brimming with excellent ideas.

Recently I was paging through her ice cream book and came across a little footnote that suggested a berry crisp ice cream.  I was so on it.  Essentially, this is a deconstructed or rearranged crisp a la mode.  Instead of serving the usual fruit crisp alongside ice cream, it is mixed right in.  In this case I opted for cherries because they are clearly the best, but other fruits would work as well.  The crumble topping that is mixed in is absolutely to die for – a perfect salty sweet combo that continues to stay crisp even after it is mixed into the ice cream.  I can’t tell you how glad I am that someone thought of this. It is genius, just like Jeni.

  • Yield about 1 quart


For the crisp streusel:

  • 4 oz. (8 tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cups old-fashioned rolls oats

For the cherries: 

  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar

For the ice cream: 

  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, split


  • 01

    To make the crisp streusel, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the oats.  Blend together by rubbing the dry ingredients into the butter with your fingertips. (You can also use a pastry blender or two forks if you prefer.) When the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse sand, stir in the oats and mix well.  Spread the mixture out in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Break up into small clumps. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is browns and crisp, about 25-30 minutes total.  Remove from the oven and let cool. Freeze until ready to use.

  • 02

    To make the cherries, preheat the oven to 450˚ F.  Combine the cherries and the sugar in a small roasting pan and toss well to combine.  Roast the cherries for 10 minutes, or until they begin to release their juices.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the cherries cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 03

    To make the ice cream, combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in small bowl and whisk to a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and salt and whisk until smooth.  Combine the remaining 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons of milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean and the vanilla pod in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to the heat and bring back to a boil, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

  • 04

    Whisk the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese until smooth. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to chill thoroughly before churning. (Alternatively, you can place the bowl with the mixture into a larger bowl with an ice bath and stir until chilled.)

  • 05

    Remove the vanilla pod.  Once chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Layer the finished ice cream into a storage container with all of the cherries and a generous amount of the crisp streusel.  Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

  • 06


    • This makes more crisp streusel than you will need for the ice cream. You won’t be sad.  We like to sprinkle a bit of additional crisp over each serving of ice cream.
    • Other berries or fruits can work well here.  Raspberries and blueberries both should be lightly cooked similarly to the cherries, just so they are softened and begin to release their juices (though they may require less time than the cherries so keep a close eye on them.)