An artist’s eye and confectioner’s soul have led Jeni Britton Bauer to create rich, flavorful ice creams that tempt the palate. Bauer is the founder of “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams” with 10 stores in her native Ohio and now expanding into Tennessee. Her revolutionary flavors and ice cream bases are tailored to at-home ice cream artists in her new book, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” (Artisan, 2011).
In Jeni’s Splendid stores, Bauer uses fresh local produce for unusual flavor combinations, all made by hand in small batches. Salty Caramel is her signature flavor, and just perusing the book turns up mouth-watering temptations like Roasted Cherry Goat Cheese, Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry, Backyard Mint, Sweet Basil and Honeyed Pine Nut, Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet, and the most tempting of all, Buckeye State Ice Cream: Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles.
The flavors are intriguing, but technique is what really sets Bauer’s frozen confections apart from the rest – Jeni’s ice creams do not use eggs, instead substituting a cornstarch slurry to thicken the ice cream base and finishing with a bit of cream cheese. Unlike custard-style ice creams, Jeni’s recipes yield a scoop-able frozen cream that is not the least bit grainy, but smooth and rich instead.
In the charming introduction to the recipes, Bauer tells the history of her business and the pursuit of the ultimate ice cream. It’s a tale of an art student seeking fulfillment and small business success –there are lessons beyond the kitchen that can be found in here.
The kitchen is where the book really shines – the 100 recipes are arranged according to season, highlighting what’s fresh and in the markets during each month. Extras include tutorials for sundaes, a luscious-looking Baked Alaska Pie and recipes for marshmallows, cake and assorted sweet mix-ins and accessories. I tested a roasted cherry goat cheese ice cream with excellent results. The oven roasting technique for the cherries yields syrupy, complex fruit, the goat cheese offers a slight tang to the cream, and the texture of the finished dessert is sublime.
Roasted Cherry Goat Cheese Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart ice cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup (about 4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
1 ½ ounce (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
Roasted Cherries (see below)
1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the goat cheese, cream cheese, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
2. Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn surup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
3. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
4. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of the cherries and ending with a spoonful of cherries; do not mix. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Makes about 1 ¼ cups
2 cups pitted fresh or frozen (not thawed) red or black cherries
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Combine the cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 9-inch square baking dish, tossing to mix. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until the juices are thickened and bubbly, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator.
From JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAMS AT HOME by Jeni Britton Bauer, Artisan Books, Copyright © 2011, Author photograph by Stacy Newgent.