Cookbook review: 'Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts' appeals, amazes

Published: Saturday, June 28 2014 12:30 p.m. MDT

"JENI'S SPLENDID ICE CREAM DESSERTS," by Jeni Britton Bauer, Artisan Books, $23.95, 209 pages

Just when it seemed ice cream couldn't get more tempting or appealing, Jeni Britton Bauer has put together a cookbook that challenges all the ordinary ways to enjoy it.

And just as a warning, you may never be happy with a dish of plain vanilla again.

In this slim volume, dessert "artist" Bauer (she studied art, worked in a bakery and blended perfumes and collected essential oils before she started making ice cream) presents all kinds of creative ways to make ice cream the center of attention.

She adds color, flavor and crunch, and mixes textures, scents, spices and sugars.

Bauer explains how to make sweet ice cream, frozen custards, yogurts, sorbets, ice cream cakes and a variety of ice cream sundaes and parfaits.

How about Extra-Strength Root Beer Ice Cream, Magnolia Mochi Ice Cream or Graham Cracker Ice Cream? Pumpernickel Ice Cream, perhaps? Melon Jonesy Sorbet?

Bauer explains her secrets in this cookbook, and for the chef willing to invest a little time and go for it, he or she, too, can create desserts like the perfect yellow Lady Cake or Meringue Cake with a crispy shell top.

Some are no-brainers when it comes to over-the-top temptations: Jake's Chocolate Truffle Cookies and the Kataifi Nests made of crispy shreds of phyllo look exquisitely delicious.

It may take some time, however, to learn to yearn for Wheatgrass, Pear and Vinho Verde Sorbet, which is described as "crisp and green in flavor, with a delightful fuzziness — like a shag carpet in color and texture."

Beautifully photographed, well-written and well-researched, this is a book to own, examine thoroughly and have ready for special occasions.

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

1½ cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ cup roughly chopped (¼-inch pieces) graham crackers, preferably Annie’s Honey Bunny

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 heat-proof 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 paper 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.

— "Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts" by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books)

If you go ...

What: Jeni Britton Bauer book signing

When: Tuesday, July 1, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, jenis.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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