Have you read anything about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams?
The owner, Jeni Britton Bauer, makes her artisan ice creams by replacing the usual egg yolks with cornstarch and cream cheese.
Cornstarch is a classic egg yolk replacement. Last winter, while I was tinkering around with a Peppermint Bark Gelato recipe, I learned that Sicilians have been using cornstarch instead of egg yolks to thicken gelato for years. The process works because the cornstarch absorbs the “hidden” water in your ingredients (you know, milk is mostly water) and keeps it from turning into ice crystals. When you use cornstarch, you don’t have to temper your ice cream base, and you don’t have egg yolks muddying the flavors of your other ingredients. In Jeni’s kitchen, an egg-free strawberry ice cream tastes like actual strawberries, not “strawberry ice cream.”
But the cream cheese? That threw me.
So, I decided to try the Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Cherries from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.”
Because shutting down our space shuttle program doesn’t mean we’ve turned our backs on science.
First, you pour your cherries into a deep dish and roast them in the oven. Roasting the cherries brings out their sweetness and concentrates their flavor. (But don’t feel like you have to take out a loan to buy the cherries for this recipe. I used some cherries that have been in the back of my freezer for a year, and they were delicious.)
While the cherries are chilling, you can start making your ice cream.
All of the ice cream recipes in Jeni’s book follow the same process. You start by prepping three bowls – one with a cornstarch slurry, one with softened cream cheese and salt, and one with ice and water. Then, you cook your milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup, boiling it for exactly four minutes before you add the cornstarch slurry. You take this hot milk mixture and pour it into the bowl with the cream cheese and salt, whisk them together, and pour the hot ice cream base into a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, which goes directly into your ice bath for at least 30 minutes. Once the ice cream base has chilled, you can pour it into your ice cream machine, freeze it, and let it firm up in your freezer for about four hours.
No waiting for the ice cream base to chill for hours before you can process it in your ice cream machine.
How are the results?
Combined with the roasted cherries, the goat cheese ice cream tastes a lot like cheesecake. It’s smooth and velvety, like an egg-based ice cream, but the flavor of the goat cheese cuts right through. It’s not just sweet, it’s tangy and intense.
As for the mystery ingredient, the cream cheese, it’s added at the end of the process, I assume to help recreate a little of the mouth-feel you get from egg-based ice creams without clouding the flavors of your main ingredients.
There is one more unusual ice cream ingredient in Jeni’s recipes: corn syrup. I’ve read comments on other sites from people who were assuming all corn syrup is high-fructose corn syrup, and that’s not true. That bottle of Karo in your pantry is a glucose syrup, not a fructose syrup. Two different animals. The corn syrup in this ice creams prevents ice crystals from forming and keeps your ice cream from freezing hard as a rock so that you can easily scoop it.
The dangerously fun thing about Jeni’s method is that once you’ve made one batch of her ice cream, you want to make another. And another. And she even gives you an ice cream base recipe in the back of the book so you can create your own recipes.
In the name of science, of course.
P.S. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is an Ohio-based chain, but they recently opened up a shop in East Nashville at 1892 Eastland Ave. Come check it out!
Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Red Cherries
Adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home”
Makes a generous 1 quart
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened (Microwave for 15 seconds.)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup or tapioca syrup
- Roasted Cherries (recipe below)
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the goat cheese, cream cheese and salt until smooth. Set aside.
- Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.
- Using a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and boil for exactly 4 minutes. (The mixture will rise as it boils, so keep an eye on it!) Remove from the heat.
- Make sure your cornstarch slurry is still well mixed. Slowly drizzle the slurry into your hot milk mixture while whisking vigorously. (Otherwise, the slurry will form a film on the bottom of the pan.)
- Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring vigorously, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture 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.
- Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker, and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of the Roasted Cherries and ending with a spoonful of cherries. DO NOT MIX.
- Press a sheet of parchment paper directly on the surface of the ice cream, and cover with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
- 2 cups pitted fresh or frozen (not thawed) red or black cherries
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine the cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 9-inch square baking dish, tossing to mix. (You can use any baking dish, as long as it’s big enough to hold the cherries and is several inches deep, since the cherry mixture bubbles up in the oven.)
- Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until the juices are thickened and bubbly, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Let the cherry mixture cool completely, and then chill it in the refrigerator until ready to use.