If I had to pick one flavor to encapsulate my childhood it would be homemade cookies and cream ice cream. Every year I would count down to the last day of school. It wasn’t summer break that excited me. It was the end of the year party for which my mom always made ice cream. Cookies and cream was my all-time favorite.
Those fun end-of-the-year parties ended when I graduated to middle school. Shortly after that mom’s trusty old ice cream maker died and she never bothered to replace it. With the exception of Ample Hills Creamery (in Brooklyn, of course!), no ice cream has even come close to hers. So when she suggested we get dad an ice cream maker for Father’s Day, I gave my full support.
For months I’d been eyeing the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook, but it seemed like a waste of money and space given that I didn’t have access to an ice cream maker. Once we’d ordered the machine for dad, I went ahead and ordered Jeni’s book for myself. (We got dad David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.)
I’d had Jeni’s ice cream just once and loved it. Her method intrigued me. She uses cream cheese instead of egg yolks to achieve that dense, smooth ice cream consistency. She uses tapioca starch to bind up any excess water and keep the ice cream from crystallizing, a common problem with home churned ice cream. Her recipes also call for corn or tapioca syrup which I don’t have or use. I subbed honey and/or maple syrup depending on the recipe and thus far everything has turned out fine.
Last week I made her vanilla frozen yogurt for garden night and it was a huge hit. This week I made more vanilla frozen yogurt as well as a batch of her Queen City Cayenne and a batch of watermelon lemonade sorbet. Both were wonderful! The Queen City Cayenne had just the right amount of spice and was incredibly creamy. My mom had made Lebovitz’s Philadelphia-style chocolate (no eggs) last week and Jeni’s blew his away. Her’s was much smoother, probably thanks to the extra fat from the cream cheese. (I’ll have to try his French-style chocolate which uses egg yolks and see how that compares.) Even the sorbet impressed me. I expected it to be very icy since it was just fruit, sugar and water, but the consistency was perfect. Everyone enjoyed them, though we all agreed the chocolate was the best.
Admittedly, the book has some weird flavor combinations and I don’t think I’ll be trying beet ice cream any time soon, but thus far I have been thoroughly impressed with the creativity, the easy instructions and the consistent outcome. If you are looking to make some homemade ice cream this summer, give Jeni’s a try!