Winter is closing in (as much as it can in California), but we still like our ice cream. We never seem to tire of ice cream, regardless of time or place. We’ve read that the two foods that break the most diets are ice cream and bacon. And we are proud to produce both, in large quantities, here at the farm. And while we try to moderate our intake, we often find the best way to overcome temptation is to simply give some of our creations away (“free bacon and ice cream for all!”). But not this ice cream, we
are keeping ate all of this one.
And that wasn’t really a surprise, as this ice cream comes from Jeni Britton Bauer, of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus Ohio. Jeni’s ice cream is some of the richest, creamiest and most flavorful we’ve tried anywhere. And you can sometimes find her ice cream at specialty stores across the country, it’s amazing, but ridiculously expensive. And since Jeni published “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home“, the best option is to make it yourself. And once you understand Jeni’s methods, you are on your way to ice cream nirvana.
The key to Jeni’s method is to minimize the formation of ice crystals (ice crystals make ice cream gritty) and maximize butterfat and flavor. But instead of using traditional ingredients like granulated sugar or egg yolks, she uses corn syrup to sweeten, a cream cheese base for fat and thickens the milk and cream with corn starch. This may seem odd, but the science (and texture and flavor) are on Jeni’s side. Corn syrup is glucose, rather than sucrose, and resists crystallization. Corn starch bonds with the milk and cream to further reduce crystal formation. Cream cheese (it doesn’t impact flavor) mixed with a milk and cream mixture provides fat without extra water. Along with a rapid chill of the ice cream base, this method gives you creamy, silky ice cream that beats almost anything you can buy.
Jeni’s cookbook has recipes for all sorts of exotic ice cream flavors like Queen City Cayenne, Blackstrap Praline, Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries and Chamomile Chardonnay. But she also has new riffs on classics like dark chocolate, vanilla, mint, salted caramel and this maple ice cream. We simply love rich, sweet maple syrup and maple sugar candy is one of our favorite holiday treats. This ice cream tastes like creamy maple sugar candy, and combined with the buttery salted pecans, it’s heavenly. Like we said, we aren’t sharing this one. Go make some of your own…
(Adapted from Jeni Britton Bauer)
Notes Before You Start:
- This recipe is exacting and requires a lot of attention to detail, but it’s worth it.
- The recipe suggests you pour the ice cream base into a ziplock bag and then chill the base in an ice bag. We also use a bowl for this step. Both methods work, but the ziplock bag method will chill slightly faster.
- We prefer to add the salted pecans to the top of the ice cream at service, but you can also fold the nuts into the ice cream after you churn, if you like.
What You Get: Incredibly smooth, silky ice cream with deep maple flavor.
What You Need: An ice cream maker / canister. No other special equipment required.
How Long? At least 6 hours but only 30 – 40 minutes of active time. Most of the time is spent chilling the base and hardening the final ice cream. A fun weekend project, or make it in the evening and have ice cream for breakfast.
(Makes about 1 quart)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1 and 1/2 oz. (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 and 1/2 cups pure maple syrup, grade B or C preferred
Salty Buttered Pecans:
(Makes 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup shelled pecans
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
- In a large measuring cup with a spout, mix the heavy cream and corn syrup.
- Fill a very large bowl with ice and water.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the maple syrup and boil until it reduces by half, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add the cream and corn syrup mixture, then add the remaining milk.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes (the mixture may look curdled, but it will come back together later). Remove from the heat and slowly add the cornstarch slurry.
- Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Gradually whisk the hot mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Then pour the mixture into a medium bowl or ziplock plastic bag and place the mixture in the ice bath. Chill the mixture, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 30 minutes.
- Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker’s canister and spin until thick and creamy (follow your ice cream maker’s instructions). Fold the nuts into the ice cream, if you like. Pack the ice cream into an airtight container and press a sheet of parchment on top of the ice cream and then seal the container. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Serve.
Salty, Buttered Pecans:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine the pecans, melted butter and salt. Mix until the pecans are well-coated. Place the pecans on a baking sheet.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until crisp. Let cool completely. Eat or serve with maple ice cream.
- Jeni’s Salty Caramel Ice Cream (thebittenword.com)
- Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie (andtheycookedhappilyeverafter.wordpress.com)
- Vanilla Maple Ice Cream (collegiateculinaire.wordpress.com)
- Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (piewithsparkles.com)
- Tastes of Fall – Hot Apple Crisp with Homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream (donachyblog.wordpress.com)