Maraschino cherries meet Perugina chocolate ice cream as we reminisce about Italy

The Euganean Hills, Italy

It is September, which for many years has been the month for Gourmandistan to relocate to a different country than America. We are not doing so this year, as we decided to postpone our international travel in order to coincide with our 30th anniversary in January, when we’ll be going to Venice. That means we’re currently going through a bit of Euro-withrawal, looking forward to returning to the enchanting, sinking city and revisiting our old blog about Padua and the Colli Euganei.

One of the earlier entries reminded Michelle that our temporary Paduan home had been near Torreglia, home of Luxardo, maker of Maraschino liqueur and Maraschino cherries. As the family-owned site admits, Dalmatian (now Croatian) nuns actually invented the alcoholic Maraschino, but the 1800s-era Luxardos took the idea and capitalized it, “exporting the liqueur to aficionados around the world” and building “the most modern and massive distillery in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.” Ensuing world wars were not kind to either the Empire or the Luxardos, whose factory was destroyed by bombs in 1945 with only one family member and a single Marasca cherry sapling surviving to escape to Torreglia and restart the distillery, which now churns out cherries and a variety of alcoholic products.

As our Italian internet experience was spotty at best, we never researched any of this history, only noting the large factory as we explored Torreglia in search of meat and vegetables. But the cherries did remain in Michelle’s mind as something she might want to experiment with someday. When she recently spied a jar at one of our local groceries, her nostalgia-infused interest rekindled and it ended up at our house.

Michelle, who despises common cocktail cherries almost as much as candied citron, actually enjoyed the Luxardo cherries straight from the jar. Steve, who admits to a childhood belief that the single cherry in a can of fruit in syrup was a huge “get,” enjoyed them as well. But Michelle wondered how she could use the sugar-soaked delicate fruit in a dessert without having them disappear. As it is (sort of) still summery outside, Steve suggested ice cream. The form was settled, but what about the flavors? After a bit of searching, Michelle decided on another “Italian” flavor, a Camille Glenn chocolate and hazelnut recipe based on the flavor of the Perugina company’s candy.

The Torreglia/Perugia cherry/chocolate combo tasted great, but Steve wanted to balance the rich chocolate with a lighter cherry flavor. So Michelle indulged him by taking Glenn’s basic vanilla recipe and adding chopped Maraschino cherries and cherry juice as the creamy base froze.

Together they were a treat, and for a while took our minds off the fact that we’re still in America this month—and that January is still several months away.


  • Servings: about 2 quarts
  • Print

(adapted from Camille Glenn’s The Fine Art of Delectable Desserts)

  • 1/2 c. + 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 c. + 2 TB milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 TB brandy or cognac
  • 1-1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c. quartered Maraschino cherries (preferably Luxardo brand)

Cook sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan until it reaches 230° F by a candy thermometer.

While sugar is cooking, beat egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl with a hand mixer until they turn a lighter shade of yellow.

Pour hot syrup into the egg yolks, in a steady stream, beating constantly.

Combine chocolate and milk in a small saucepan. Carefully melt over low heat, stirring frequently. When chocolate has melted, beat until smooth.

Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until cold.

Add vanilla, brandy or cognac and cream and whisk together.

Freeze in an ice cream maker. When ice cream is about half-frozen, add nuts and cherries and continue to freeze until done.


  • Servings: about 2 quarts
  • Print

(adapted from Camille Glenn’s The Fine Art of Delectable Desserts)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c + 2 TB sugar
  • 1 c. milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. quartered Maraschino cherries (preferably Luxardo brand)
  • 1 TB juice from the cherry jar

Place egg yolks and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture lightens and is creamy. Add milk and beat in.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until custard coats a wooden spoon.

Poor into a stainless steel bowl and refrigerate until cold.

Add salt, vanilla and cream.

Freeze in an ice cream maker. When ice cream is about half-frozen, add cherries. Then add cherry juice, a teaspoon at a time, and continue to freeze until done.




  1. Venice is the best in winter, when it’s misty and empty of tourists. Assuming you’ll have a kitchen, make for the Rialto fish market and buy a couple pounds of mantis shrimp to steam with butter. #veniceenvy

  2. A great way to use the cherries. Happy anniversary! At least you have a beautiful trip to look forward to. Fall in the states is pretty so there’s that. I used to and still do kind of cone from the Steve camp where these candied cherries were a find. My parents told me the cherries would kill me so I always felt funny about eating them. Knowing their history now makes me want more. They said the same about crab apples so I’m wary of those too still. But id eat this ice cream any day. Cherries and all!

  3. Gorgeous ice creams. Hope you enjoy a crowd-free Venice in the winter … we went once in February and although it chucked it down with rain (sorry) it was incredibly beautiful, misty and romantic. xxx

    • Thanks, Linda! You know, I don’t even care if it rains. I’m just looking forward to seeing it without all the cruise ship people. And of course I look forward to the mists and the shadows… The funny this is that even when we were there a bunch of times in September (when we were renting a house about 45 minutes away), if you just got off the main drag there weren’t any people at all!

  4. Oh, Luxardo cherries are the best! The ice cream is incredible. Chocolate and cherry can’t be beat. Have you tried Maraschino Liquor? I can’t say liqueur, because in my memory it was almost like grappa it was so strong. Awful stuff.

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