Adventures in Ice Cream Making

For graduation, my friend and former roommate Lara gave me an ice cream maker and a book - Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. For you Columbus people, you may have heard about this wonderful recipe book Jeni came out with recently in which she actually tells you how to make her wonderful ice cream. If you have never heard of Jeni's, well, that is a real shame. She makes some of the best and most unusual ice cream I have ever had. And now I can make it at home.

A few days before I received my amazing gift, I had actually found a place in Burbank that carries Jeni's ice cream. Its a little place called the Handy Market, perhaps LA peeps have seen the famous Saturday barbeque along Magnolia. (If you've never tried the ribs, they are fantastic).  We picked up two pints - Roasted Red Cherry and Goat Cheese and Wildberry Lavender, for $11.99 each. Needless to say, they are both gone.

For our first ice cream adventure, we decided to make Salty Caramel, Jeni's signature flavor. There are no fancy ingredients. The only difficult (and very dangerous) part is making the caramel by cooking sugar dry. It is a very good way to give yourself 3rd degree burns. Fortunately, I had some experience making caramel in the past for an apple tart. Unfortunately, using the wet technique didn't turn out very well. :-/

First we begin by assembling our ingredients: corn syrup, whole milk, heavy cream, corn starch, cream cheese, vanilla, salt and sugar. That's everything! At this point its hard to believe these discrete items will form a smooth velvety ice-cream.

I begin by cooking the sugar into caramel. I remember that at my last attempt at caramel I was impatient and took it off way too soon, so this time I make myself stand and wait until the amber color appears. Luckily, no burns were sustained by any party.

Next add the heavy cream and corn syrup mixture, then milk, finally milk and corn starch, then whisk into salted cream cheese.

Then the creamy mixture cools down in an ice bath. At this point I had to run to the store for the third time to pick up more things I had forgotten to get on the last two trips, namely parchment paper to put on the finished ice cream. I also got some freezer bags because oops, we didn't have enough ice. 

Next it makes its way into the ice cream machine. The canister for the ice cream machine has been in the freezer for 24 hours. At first, the ice cream looks like liquid peanut butter cookie batter.
The machine churns and churns and it starts more and more to resemble ice cream. After 20 minutes I decide its done. It goes into a container with parchment paper on top and into the freezer.

We wait 4 hours because that's what it says in the book. Then - its time to taste our creation.

It is unbelievably smooth and creamy. It tastes like caramel alright, with a slightly bitter finish. This is because I let the sugar go a bit too long. Jeni says knowing the right moment to take it off the heat is almost instinctual. Perhaps I should have started with a less delicate recipe, but oh well. It still tastes delicious! (and is almost gone already!)

I can't wait to try the next recipe!



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