From Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
We have met our new hero, and her name is Jeni.
Way back in July, Rina -- a friend who we met through the blog and our go-to for Chicago restaurant recommendations -- sent us an email extolling the genius of Jeni Britton Bauer and recommending her (new at that time) cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
We were interested (as we are in all of Rina's recommendations) but we didn't rush out and get the book.
Why? The shame of our ice cream maker. It sits on the top shelf of a storage closet, rarely touched and seldom used. Did we need an ice cream cookbook to keep it company?
We thought not.
And we were so, so wrong.
Now, eight months later, we finally picked up a copy of Jeni's book. If you're unfamiliar with her, she owns a group of ice cream shops called Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. They're only in Ohio and Tennessee. We've never visited one of her stores, but we can't wait to do so the next time we're in Nashville.
Jeni's book charmed us completely. She has a compelling personal story about how she fell for ice cream, and failed at her first attempt at a business. She explains how she learned to make ice cream, and why she makes it the way she does.
Jeni's method is different from any ice cream we've ever made. We've previously only used David Lebovitz's method that we raved about back in 2009 after Fine Cooking featured an amazing spread from him about creating your own ice cream flavors. (The magazine offers an interactive version of that feature that we highly recommend). That method, like most, involves egg yolks. Jeni's method, however, uses no eggs. Her secret weapon for a creamy texture? Cream cheese.
We won't hypothesize about the science of making ice cream, but we will evangelize about the results. The consistency of the finished product using Jeni's method is by far the best we've ever made at home.
And that doesn't even get us yet to this Salty Caramel Ice Cream.
Jeni says in the book that this is her most popular flavor, and we can see why. It's drop-dead delicious and lives up to every expectation of "salty caramel ice cream" that you may have. The flavor is amazingly rich. It is perfection.
We cranked out three batches of ice cream last week using the same method. We'll share those variations with you this week. If you want to make ice cream and you don't already have an ice cream machine, pick one up (they're only around $40). But first, you're going to need a copy of this book.
Like we said, we're in love. Welcome to Ice Cream Week on The Bitten Word.
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:
Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. 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.
Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream 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.