This is an outstanding collection of ice cream recipes, formulated by an one of the best ice cream chefs in the USA, specifically for home machines. If I was going to own one ice cream cookbook this would be it.
After endless experimentation, Jeni Bauer, who owns a small chain of artisanal ice cream shops in Ohio, has come up with what is probably the best texture of any ice cream intended to be made at home. It is smooth, slightly chewy, almost warm tasting and melts in your mouth perfectly. The more I make her ice creams, the more convinced I am, that they have as perfect an American style ice cream texture as we can reasonably expect to achieve at home.
Even better, unlike most other ice creams, these store beautifully in a home freezer and usually don’t get too hard to scoop once frozen. On those occasions when they do, 10 seconds in a microwave will bring them back to their full glory. Actually hers are the only ice creams that I harden in the freezer for a few hours before eating.
Based on what I have made, I would say that Jeni designs her flavors to be primarily about the taste and texture of frozen milk and cream, with the other flavors of the recipe layered on as secondary elements. So for example with her strawberry buttermilk ice cream you first clearly taste the cream, then strawberries and lastly the buttermilk adding a note of tang.
This reminds me of something I once heard Mario Batali talk about when discussing making pasta. A dish of pasta should be about the taste and texture of pasta. The sauce should be added in a small, but sufficient quantity to complement and not overwhelm the taste and texture of the pasta.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that her flavors are in some way weak, they are not. Jeni has chosen to balance her combinations of ingredients in the direction of the underlying dairy flavors and to ensure they end up with an incomparable texture.
The book is very complete, containing not just great recipes but excellent and I’m sure, hard won, tips on flavors, ingredients, techniques and sources. Additionally there are recipes for toppings, ice cream sandwiches and cones. There are also recipes for fantastic, elaborate sundaes, each a tour de force of ice cream making creativity. If you served one of these at a dinner party your guests would remember it for years.
The beautiful thing to always keep in mind, is that making ice cream, even these incredible sundaes, is not like making a soufflé. None of these recipes are that hard or finicky, yet result in memorable foods that are well worth the relatively little effort they take. It is no surprise to me that Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home Cookbook won a James Beard cookbook award. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Bob ClarkJan 1.
The one ice cream cookbook to own.