May 20, 2012

Cook the Book: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

My secret, or perhaps not so secret, favorite dessert is ice cream. People that find out I like to make desserts always ask what my favorite is. I usually say cakes, because few people make good layer cakes from scratch these days and when made correctly, they're a showstopper. But my favorite dessert may just be ice cream...even more so as summer begins, the weather heats up, and a cold dessert sounds heavenly. I was in Columbus, Ohio at the beginning of the month, and the eatery I most wanted to visit was Jeni's for ice cream.

Some of the more intriguing flavors were The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, Salty Caramel, and Goat Cheese with Red Cherries. The first time we went (I had to go more than once!) I got a scoop of Salty Caramel and one of Dark Chocolate. On the second visit, I tried The Buckeye State (peanut butter with dark chocolate bits) and Queen City Cayenne (spicy milk chocolate).

I decided to order Jeni's award-winning book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and cook through the book this summer. In truth, it will probably become a year-long endeavor, which is good because she organizes the recipes into Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter flavors. The first thing I noticed about her recipes is that she doesn't use a custard base, instead she uses tapioca starch and cream cheese to create a thick and creamy texture - mind blown!

For my first magic trick, I made Bangkok Peanut ice cream, a spicy peanut ice cream with peanut butter, both coconut milk and toasted coconut, honey, and cayenne. Jeni compares its flavors to those of Pad Thai. I made mine with jalapeƱo peanut butter and Alaska fireweed honey. This flavor had a simultaneous spicy and cooling sensation - mind blown! again - that caused my guests to ask for a drink of water. To me, it was perfect. I ate a scoop. Then another. Then when the ice cream was gone, I poured milk into the container to wash out every last drop for myself.

I went a little further and made the "One Night in Bangkok Sundae," with scoops of Bangkok Peanut, sliced bananas, praline sauce (cream and dark brown muscovado sugar), peanuts, whipped cream, and cilantro.

One Night in Bangkok Sundae

Maybe your mind was just blown by the concept of cilantro in the ice cream sundae, but for me this was not without precedent. At a street market in Taiwan, they sold ice cream, not in a cone, but wrapped in a thin, tortilla- or crepe-like pancake, that was also filled with peanut brittle shavings and cilantro.



Those Asians sure do know their ice cream. Wait!


Something else we saw in Taiwan. Mind blown again. (I promise to never ever use that phrase again in my blog.) Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream recipe online here.