One of the more recent additions to my ever-growing pile of cookbooks, is one I "won" at Share Our Strength's Baltimore "Taste of the Nation" when I attended last Fall. The book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, was one of about a dozen that I won in the silent auction part of the fundraiser. Needless to say, I'm glad I'm a light packer because I required all sorts of extra room in my suitcase to accommodate the book booty for my trip home. I half expected the TSA folks to check my bag for a dismembered body, I mean how else could I explain a weekend bag weighing in at 100+ pounds.
In the subsequent months I've been eying the book eagerly, reading lots of fabulous on-line reviews of Jeni's ice creams, and waiting for the weather to warm to the point where we felt like eating ice cream again. I don't know about you , but with the exception of an occasional scoop served with a slice of birthday cake, ice cream for me is a warm weather indulgence. So when the thermometer cracked 80℉ the other day, I wasted no time ripping through this delicious book to choose which flavor we'd make first. No simple task, this, as each of the over 100 flavors in the book sound more delicious than the last.
In the end it came down to a choice between "Salty Caramel" (the best seller at her ice cream shops), and the "Black Coffee" that we ended up making. Ultimately the decision was driven by a macaron baking project we were in the midst of that had me pressed for time, and the coffee flavor was a bit quicker to pull together. You'll be reading more about the macarons shortly, including a way to use large versions of the famed, French cookie to make ice cream sandwiches, but today is all about ice cream, so let's move on.
It turns out that Jeni Britton Bauer is as much a scientist as an ice cream maker. Through her research and recipe development, home cooks can now craft small batch ice creams that attain not only the rich flavor of the best artisanal brands, but matches their texture and consistency as well. For me, that is where the real challenge has always been in making our own ice cream. Straight from the machine I always had unctuous and deeply flavorful stuff, but after a few hours in the freezer ended up with a grainy, solid mass that was un-scoopable. Grrrr…..
While her methods and ingredient lists may seem a bit unorthodox, cream cheese, cornstarch and corn syrup in ice cream? I'm here to tell you that she's a genius, as this coffee ice cream is kick-@$$ good, with awesome flavor, decadent mouth feel, and is perfectly smooth and scoopable straight from the freezer. Hallelujah!
Any of you with even half an inkling to make your own ice cream, don't waste your money on any of the other hundreds of books available, Jeni's terrific cookbook is all you need.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup dark roasted coffee beans, coarsely ground
- Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
- Whisk the cream cheese and the salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water
- Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the coffee, and let steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain the milk mixture through a sieve lined with a layer of cheesecloth. Squeeze the coffee in the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard the grounds.
- Return the cream mixture to the saucepan and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring 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.
- Gradually whisk the hot cream mixture into the cream cheese 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.
- When fully chilled, pour the ice cream base into your ice cream machine and process per the manufacturers instructions. 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.