Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts — Off the Shelf

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My love for ice cream runs deep. In fact, it runs almost as deep as my love for cookbooks. Ice cream is ideal because it's a perfect dessert all on its own, loaded up with toppings or used as a building block to make a treat that's even more delicious. It's this last use of ice cream that makes the new cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer so wonderful.

If you're a home cook and you're a little intimidated by the idea of making ice cream from scratch, Jeni has you covered. Most of her recipes skip the use of eggs in the base, which means no tricky tempering of egg yolks is required to get rich, creamy, decadent results. And the flavors are so fun. The book gives you a selection of flavors to try at home; it has everything from a basic Sweet Cream Ice Cream to a summertime classic like Cream Biscuits with Peach Jam Ice Cream, to flavors a bit more bold, like Cumin and Honey Butterscotch Ice Cream.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts doesn't stop at ice cream, though. In fact, frozen favorites are just the beginning in this book. The title offers a wide range of dishes you can make, each with ice cream as its shining star. Readers will find recipes for cocktails, cakes, cobblers, biscuits, beignets and more. There's even a section featuring all the ways in which you can dress the components of the book (ice cream, sauces and topping "gravels") up into craving-inducing sundaes.

Jeni's ice cream feels (and tastes) like my favorite childhood treat, all grown up and a bit more refined. At the same time, the recipes are simple to understand and the photo guides make it easy to follow along in the process. It's the perfect book for someone just getting acquainted with the fun of homemade ice cream, but the recipes will work with ice cream brought home from the store, too, which means the book has a lot to offer even if you don't want to churn your own sweet treats from scratch. If you do want to give homemade ice cream a try, start with the Graham Cracker Ice Cream recipe (below). But don't stop there. Grab a copy and keep cool with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts as the summer heats up. (You can purchase Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts here.)

Graham Cracker Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
2 2/3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup roughly chopped (1/4-inch pieces) graham crackers

Prep: 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. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook: Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a 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 heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the crackers and allow the mixture to steep until the crackers dissolve, about 3 minutes. Force the mixture through a sieve, then pour it 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.

Freeze: Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the ice cream base into the 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.

Variations:

Animal Cracker Ice Cream: For an ice cream that is both familiar and indescribably delicious, substitute animal crackers for the graham crackers.

Blue Cheese Graham Cracker Ice Cream: Substitute Gorgonzola dolce for the cream cheese. The result will be a little saltier, and the cheese will bring out the caramel notes.

Credit: Excerpted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2014. Photographs by Kelsey McClellan.

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