I’m usually late to the party. Fashionably late, by design. Barring a serious shoe dilemma which has been known to cause hourly setbacks, there’s never a really good excuse. So, no surprise I missed the ice cream party last month all together. Yes, the cold treat was celebrated for 30 days with songs of praise all over the Internets and blogs. I had great intentions of making few buckets worth, inspired by two things: my belly-filing trip to dairy farms in Modesto, California, and what’s been decked as the homemade ice cream bible by the Wall Street Journal, the tantalizing cook book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home (Artisan Books, 2011). But, I fell way short. Time escaped me and I was left with buying some just to placate my ego. I hate when I miss events I can really benefit from.
Fortunately, when Jeni Bauer, goddess of artisan ice creams, was in Atlanta last summer for her book tour, I didn’t miss meeting her and tasting her treats. She was making them live and in person at Star Provisions. I was late, you already know. I still managed to squeeze my way to the front and see her ease at work. She talked about her passion for ice cream, how she started in the business, how using the freshest ingredients from local farmer’s in Ohio makes all the difference — where she resides — and sharing secrets on how to duplicate her ice cream: no eggs. Well poised and zen focused on stirring and whipping, she cheerfully answered all of our questions and shared cookie sandwiches and delicious push-ups! Remember those! My greedy childhood instinct kicked in.
I had 4 cookie sandwiches and 2 colorful push-ups.
I walked away with a signed copy of her book and finally had a chance to sit with it. Her story starts kind of average but finishes as a stellar win-win. At 22, ice cream-making was her first business with a shop called Scream. But, it wasn’t ice cream per se that intrigued her to become a master. It was her “discovery of flavor.” Working at a French bakery where sugar was used far more conservatively than American pastries, she learned to appreciated the authentic, true flavor of each ingredient. Like any successful business person, she had a good helping of rejections, disappointments and severed relationships; all keeping her from focusing on ice cream for some time. Her bounce-back had much to do with that old adage: it takes a village. Literally. Her hubby, bro-in-law and loyal customers piled equipment and massive amount of support behind her and paved the path to opening her shop, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, in November of 2001.
Since then, she’s amassed many fans, customers and has fed many mouths with thousands of gallons and pints of ice cream, all hand-labled. Creating over 100 flavor combinations comes from her relationship with very specific dairy farms, love affair with seasonal ingredients, herbs she grows in her garden and fan favorites, like the salted caramel.
(R to L: Me enjoying a push-up; Jeni explaining something; Jeni’s cookbook stash; Cream in ice bath)
While I sat up against the wall in my room, legs crossed with espresso in my hand, I flipped throug the book and read almost every story associated with the respective recipe. One consistent theme is her passion and dedication to her ice cream and to making her customers and friends really happy people. 13-18-hour exhausting days don’t tire her enough to not love doing it all over again the next day. She’s approached her business the way she’s wanted to — unconventional, atypical and totally customizable — with the purpose of producing an amazing product you can’t resist wanting more of.
The bigger point and the ultimate goal of the book is for you and me to make fantastic, tried and true ice cream in our own kitchens using our equipment and tools. The books genius lies in its path to making you confident enough to whip out batches for dinner parties, ice cream socials or just because you want to bathe in high-fat buttercream without the pressure of lacking industrial machines or hundreds of pounds of certain ingredients.
Kitchen tools Jeni says you’ll need to make a kick ass helado: Ice cream machine, heavy-bottomed saucepan, food processor, baking dishes/pans, three bowls, whisk, measuring cups and spoons, heatproof spatula, sieve & cheesecloth, heavy duty plastic bags, parchment paper, ice cream scooper and a freezer! Have those? Then you are on your way to making her winning ice cream en tu casa! If you don’t, well, umm, I guess you can go shopping this weekend or find a boutique shop selling her goodies… and you’ll be a good penny for them! I think something along the lines of $12 for a 1/2 pint.
There were so many I enjoyed looking at, but some of my favorites (for now) are the macaroon cookie sandwiches (pg. 53), ohito sundae which is made with backyard mint ice cream (pg. 92), push-ups and the Gucci Muu Muu (pg. 158) a combination of exotic curry spices with chocolate and toasted coconut!
The artistically designed and colorful book is pure candy. It’s a true guide, replete with all the how-to’s, must-haves and techniques for your kitchen dairy experiments. There’s no reason NOT to make ice cream at home with this libro. Even commercial restaurant chefs can defer to it. And that makes me very, very, happy.
I won’t lie. I haven’t tackled any yet . I can’t decide on which ones. And, plus, my ice cream maker is in storage. Go figure. So for now, I’ll do us a favor and share one of her recipes, c/o of Jeni herself.
Let’s see. It’s August 3rd, well in the middle of Summer. It’s definitely not too late to bask in creamy and frosty puddles of soft ice cream!
For more recipes and Jeni’s full story, check out her book at your local store. You’ll want this pretty lil’ thing in your kitchen to tease your man (or vice-versa) with, whilst sucking on a push-up. He just might join you in the stirring-process!
Available on Amazon and boutique shops, nationwide. $23.95, Hardcover.
Oh, try the Kona Stout flavor (pg. 64). It just sounds delicious. I’m not the biggest fan of beer and somehow I think I’d fall in love with this. Beer in ice cream? I think I smell a flan coming! And of course the Tres Leche (pg. 174)! I mean, you know a post wouldn’t be right w/out some Latin connection. It’s just divine. I can taste it. To make at home now: why not the Rhubarb Sundae? It’s so en mode every summer and so we might as well enjoy it, too!
* Book photographs and cover by Stacy Newgent
Rhubarb Pie à la Mode Sundae (Adapted and excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. Copyright © 2011. Photographs by Stacy Newgent.)
Makes 6 servings
- Pie Crust Cookies
- Pie Crust* (below)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt** (below)
- Rhubarb Compote*** (below)
- Whipped Cream**** (below)
- 6 lime twists, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. To make the Pie Crust Cookies, follow the directions for the Pie Crust (below) until you have rolled out the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick circle. Then chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick. Using a round 2- or 3-inch cookie cutter, cut 1/2 circles from the dough. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and, using a pastry brush, glaze each one lightly with some of the heavy cream. Sprinkle with some of the turbinado sugar. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack. (You will need 6 Pie Crust Cookies for this recipe; the remaining cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days; if frozen, they keep for up to 2 weeks.)
To assemble the sundaes, place a pie crust cookie on a chilled plate or in a bowl. Top with a scoop of Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt and spoon over about 1/4 cup Rhubarb Compote. Finish with a generous dollop of Whipped Cream and, if desired, garnish with a lime twist.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 12-inch cubes and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 batch ice cream or sorbet of your choice, slightly softened if necessary
For the pie crust:
Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and oats in a food processor and process until the oats are in bits. Add the sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse just until the dough begins to come together and looks crumbly.
Whisk the egg yolk and half-and-half together in a small bowl. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Add to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gather it into a ball, and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm for a few minutes to relax the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle just under 1/4 inch thick. Gently fold the circle over the rolling pin and lift into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges to a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the edge of the dough under itself and tuck and pinch to create a fluted edge; you can also use a fork to create a decorative finish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Line with a square of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Lift out the liner and weights and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shell is lightly browned and cooked through on the bottom. Let cool, then wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze. Fill the shell with the ice cream, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours.
**Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt
Frozen Yogurt Base
- 1 quart plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons)
- cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- Zest of 3 limes (reserved from the syrup)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 to 4 limes
- 3 tablespoons sugar
For the strained yogurt: Fit a sieve over a bowl and line it with two layers of cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the sieve, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours to drain. Discard the liquid, and measure out 1 1/4 cups of the strained yogurt; set aside.
For the lime syrup: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 3 limes in large strips; reserve. Halve the limes and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup. Combine lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool.
For the frozen yogurt base: Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and lime zest 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 mixture. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the 1 1/4 cups yogurt, the lime syrup, and cardamom and whisk 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.
Remove the lime zest. Pour the frozen yogurt base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the frozen yogurt into a storage container, 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.
- 1/2 pound fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the rhubarb and sugar in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish, stirring to mix well. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is beginning to fall apart but is still pink.
One of the most important things to master in sundae making is whipped cream. Well-made whipped cream is one of life’s true pleasures. At our stores, we whip the cream in a bowl with a whisk, o1 cup at a time. One cup will serve 8 to 10 people, so we whip cream many times per day.
A few hints: Invest in a balloon or piano whisk, which has more wires than a regular whisk; these whisks incorporate the air into the cream faster than a standard whisk. If you can find nonhomogenized cream from a local dairy, the cream will whip up faster and the whipped cream will have a lovely light yellow hue. And chill the bowl. The colder the cream and the bowl, the faster the cream will whip and thicken.
- 1 cup (8 dollops) heavy cream
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chill a large metal or glass bowl in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes; it should be cold to the touch. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl and whip by hand mixer. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.