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Quick cherry ice cream parfaits with dark chocolate and pecans

This perfect dessert is a sweet way to end a casual Valentine’s Day dinner. It’s unfussy and great for a weeknight. Plus, who doesn’t love ice cream?

For extra deliciousness, scout out your local area for a dairy or creamery where you can buy homemade ice cream. I’ve been fortunate to live near a few excellent places. In the Rochester, New York area, try Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery; in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania area, try Klein Farms Dairy & Creamery in Easton, PA. If you prefer, you can also use non-dairy ice cream and nondairy whipped topping.

Luxardo and Fabbri Amarena Wild Cherries in Syrup are the best for cocktails, but the juice that comes with them is liquid gold for an easy dessert recipe like this. You can use a few tablespoons of the syrup blended with vanilla ice cream, a little milk, and a little bit of ice to make a great milkshake, or with yogurt and ice for a smoothie, too. Substitute canned, dark cherries in syrup, if they are hard to find and you aren’t able to order from Amazon or a specialty food store online. I wouldn’t suggest using maraschino cherries for this, though; quite simply, they are not as good in this recipe.

Quick cherry ice cream parfaits with dark chocolate and pecans
Total Time
10 mins

For best results, chill the bowl and whisk you are going to use to whip your heavy cream in your refrigerator or freezer, and let ice cream sit out about 10-15 minutes on your counter prior. I use a stand mixer but you can also whisk by hand or use a hand mixer. For extra deliciousness, scout out your local area for a dairy or creamery where you can buy homemade ice cream.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cherry, fast, fast dessert, ice cream, quick and easy, quick desserts, vanilla, whipped cream
Servings: 2
  • 1 jar Luxardo cherries and syrup
  • 1/8 cup raw unsalted pecans
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (substitute granulated sugar if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon Kirschwasser or kirsch (cherry liqueur; can substitute brandy, Chambord or other raspberry liqueur, or omit entirely)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream (such as Talenti or Häagen-Dazs, or from a local creamery/dairy farm)
  • 1 bar good quality dark chocolate (such as Lindt or Ghirardelli, 60-70% cacao, about 2 ounces from a larger, 8-10 ounce bar or about 2 squares)
  1. Prepare toppings: Spread pecans in an even layer on small baking sheet and toast nuts until golden and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, in a toaster oven or conventional oven set to 350 °F. Monitor the nuts to make sure they do not burn; stir after 3 minutes and check for doneness. Set aside to cool. Once nuts are cooled, coarsely chop.

  2. As nuts are cooking, drain about 3 tablespoons of cherries from the jar, reserving liquid. Coarsely chop cherries and chop chocolate; set both aside. If using, stir kirsch into reserved cherry juice.

  3. Make homemade whipped cream: Beat heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla in chilled bowl of stand mixer using chilled whisk attachment (see note at beginning of recipe.) Add more sugar if you like your whipped cream sweeter. Once the cream is beaten to a firm consistency that will hold its shape (but don't go too far, otherwise you'll start to make butter!), fold in about 1 tablespoon of syrup from jar of cherries.

  4. Assemble parfait: Add 1 scoop of ice cream to a glass, followed by about a tablespoon each of cherries, chopped chocolate, and nuts. Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of cherry syrup. Repeat once more and serve immediately.