It's a beautiful book to look at, and Jeni's recipes have really interesting flavor combinations that make you want to make her ice cream every week.
Here are the recipes I've made (will add more over time):
- Salty Caramel, which Jeni's describes as her biggest selling flavor, is extraordinarily thick, creamy and rich. Making the caramel with the dry sugar technique takes some close monitoring but isn't overly technical for cooking at home. The recipe didn't come close to making the quart it was supposed to, but the flavor is so rich the batch will last you awhile all the same. In my batch the sweet overpowered the salty, so if you're looking for the contrast, go a bit heavier on the salt than the recipe calls for.
- Toasted Rice with a Whiff of Coconut and Black Tea, is a really neat flavor. I recommend, when toasting the rice, don't go all the way to "the color of brown sugar" as Jeni instructs. This gave the rice a slight burnt taste in my batch, so go for a lighter brown. Also, make sure to taste the rice pudding as it cooks to get the al dente texture the recipe calls for. I went a bit past al dente to a softer rice texture, still good, but it could have been better. If you don't have a fine sieve to remove the tea from the cream mixture, pour it through cheese cloth, which worked great for me. The final ice cream is a very unique and delicious combination of flavor which is led by the black tea, and texture which is led by the rice. Don't expect a lot of coconut flavor if you go the full 10 minutes steeping the black tea. All-in-all unique and delicious.
- Savannah Buttermint is very rich with a satisfying, substantial mouth-feel. I found it overly sweet fresh out of the ice cream maker, but much more mellow and smooth the next morning after a night in the freezer. The only real trick in the cooking was melting the white chocolate. I used white chocolate chips instead of chopping up baking squares, and the chips were very slow to melt in a double-boiler (really a pot-in-a-pot) so I added heavy cream about a teaspoon at a time until the chocolate finally melted into a thick paste. The flavor profile of this ice cream - with 10 drops butter flavor to 4 drops peppermint oil - is much more buttery than minty. If you like a pronounced mint flavor I'd go 7 drops butter flavor and 5-6 drops peppermint oil. Also I think this flavor would be excellent a bit less sweet - you may want to go with 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 2/3.
- Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk is extraordinarily thick and creamy. The buttermilk adds a finish of tang that adds a unique freshness and character to the deep strawberry flavor. I expected the strawberries to shrink and dry in "roasting", but there's not enough oven time for that. They stay plump. It's more like you're heating them through to bring out their natural flavor. I almost increased the roasted strawberry puree content from 1/2 cup, but stayed with the directions and was pleased with the final strawberry quality. This was also the recipe where I learned that when Jeni says use a 4 quart pot to boil the cream mixture, that's really important. I used a small saucepan and as soon as the mixture reached boiling it surged out of the pot and all over the stove. Definitely use a big pot to boil the cream mixture!
- Baked Apple Sorbet is very flavorful, like apple cider at the season's peak, or a spiced apple sauce. The recipe is interesting, essentially baked apples, cider, cinnamon and vanilla, pureed in a food processor and then strained for the juice which is spun the ice cream maker until it forms "soft peaks" like whipping cream. The cinnamon and vanilla bring a nice depth to the apples, and I found the overall balance of flavors right on target. I used and high quality vanilla extract syrup instead of a vanilla bean, which worked just fine.
- Bangkok Peanut is rich and delicious. Just a 1/2 cup of peanut butter really goes a long way delivering the peanut flavor, but it's the coconut milk and toasted coconut that really take this flavor to another level. My wife who doesn't like peanut butter ice cream really liked this one, and I think it's the complexity of the coconut that won her over. The only challenge with this ice cream is the toasted coconut clumps around the churner paddle, so isn't evenly dispersed evenly through the ice cream when the churn is done. It must be re-blended in by hand.
- Maple Ice Cream with salty buttered nuts is thick, rich and creamy. I think I've used this description for almost every ice cream I've reviewed here, so please forgive my redundancy, it's the most accurate description. Jeni recommends using Grade B or C maple syrup for this recipe ("they have a stronger maple flavor"). My supermarket only had Grade A so I selected the most premium Grade A on the shelf for this recipe. The result was a very strong, rich maple flavor. It's hard to imagine getting a stronger flavor with a Grade B or C, but it would be interesting to hear other peoples' results. The salty buttered nuts (I used pecans) are absolutely essential to this recipe, because the salt and crunch cuts right through the creamy sweet maple, adding a bright contrast that really wakes up the flavor.
- Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallow has a good ice cream base, with the molasses adding pleasing maple notes, and the potatoes contributing a more pureed than creamy mouth-feel. The torched homemade marshmallows are the star here though, don't even think of leaving them out. Making them takes some time and care - boiling the sugar to a precise temperature, beating to a consistency like marshmallow fluff, spreading the fluff onto a baking sheet and cutting it into squares. I was lucky I didn't really know what I was getting into, but the final marshmallows were a big hit with my kids, and worth making even without the ice cream. Don't forget to torch the marshmallows with a kitchen torch before adding to the ice cream - it brings out a different and better flavor than the plain marshmallows. The consistency of my marshmallows ended up a bit more like nougat than your conventional soft gooey supermarket marshmallows. I don't know how it happened, but it tasted great all the same.
UPDATE - of all the flavors so far, this took the longest to use up. My wife and kids just weren't crazy about it. The kids were happier eating the extra marshmallows. I you make this one, my suggestion is make it for a big crowd who will eat most of it in one sitting.
- Black Coffee is rich and delicious for any coffee lover. It's very simply to make. You just steep ground coffer in the hot cream mixture for 5 minutes, then strain through a sieve. You need 1/4 cup coffee, which is a little less than 2 single-serve pods. I used Wolfgang Puck "Vienna Coffee House" which imparted a nice dark coffee flavor, but I guess a good thing about this recipe is your ability to use whichever ground coffee you like best.
- Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles is pleasantly lighter than most of the others so far. If you like banana desserts I think you'll love it. I used a full vanilla bean as the recipe calls for, which contribute great flavor, but I suspect 1/2 bean would be fine if you want to save the rest. Ripe bananas pureed work well to achieve a smooth base for freezing. The caramelized white chocolate freckles add a nice dulce de leche flavor. I used Nestle chips instead of chopped blocks, and grape seed oil because I couldn't find refined coconut oil at my local supermarket. I think any light neutral oil would work fine - you need function here, not flavor. Lastly I layered the caramelized chocolate into the container, which resulted in nice big chunks, instead of drizzling it into the mixer.
- Coriander Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce - I ordered Jeni's complete essential oil kit from aftelier.com, so am set to make any of the recipes with essential oils. I like this flavor a lot. Coriander is smooth and with hints of vanilla as Jeni says, but quite different and hard to describe. I made both raspberry and blackberry sauce for this recipe. I ended up only needing one, so went with the blackberry, which was delicious and very necessary to complement the coriander ice cream. However these sauces are just berries and sugar, and I think any Smucker's jelly heated in a sauce pan would be just as effective and delicious. This ice cream was the most thick and creamy of any I've made so far. I'm not sure, but it might have been because I left the ice cream base out in my kitchen overnight because I started the recipe too late in the evening to run the ice cream maker. The recipe called for 3-5 drops of coriander oil. I split the difference with 4. This created a nice flavor, but subtle. I think the recipe could work well with 5 drops, for a more pronounced flavor.
- Brown Butter Almond Brittle is amazingly great. The brittle alone is delicious. I used Marcona almonds from Costco, which have an excellent fresh, crunchy saltiness, and crushed them a bit with a mortar and pestle. The ice cream is very easy, just Jeni's basic base, mixed with butter solids made from melting 3 stocks of butter, letting it settle and pouring off the clarified butter to leave the brown solids at the bottom of the pot. (I poured the clarified butter into a small jar, and put in the refrigerator for future use.) The brittle, in the butter thick ice cream, is immediately addictive - rich and smooth, with an immediate and satisfying Heath Bar-like crunch from the almond brittle, which I generously layered with the ice cream. You will have plenty of brittle left over for candy-snacking later.
- Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice ice cream is reminiscent of the Sweet Potato (with Torched Marshmallow) ice cream, in that is has a more pureed than creamy mouth fell. This is of course because of the pumpkin, or in my case, the butternut squash. This is an easy ice cream to make, pureed roast pumpkin/squash blended into the cream cheese before incorporation with the cream base. 5-spice is an interesting, nice addition, lending a touch of anise for a more complex flavor profile than the pumpkin alone. This would be a great ice cream to serve at Thanksgiving.
- Ylang-Ylang with Clove and Honeycomb has a floral, perfumed taste. This may sound off-putting, but I encourage you to try it, it's delicious. This ice cream is super easy to make if you have the essential oils - just Jeni's ice cream with a few drops of the essential oils. More interesting is the honeycomb candy, which is basically sugar, corn syrup and honey heated to 296 degrees ("hard crack") and spread on parchment paper on a baking sheet to harden, then cracked into nickel-sized pieces. If you eat this candy straight from the baking tray it's so hard and clingy it will surely rip out your fillings if you try to bite it. Let it sit overnight in the ice cream however, and it takes on a delicious crunch, like an aerated toffee. All-in-all this flavor is well worth trying, especially if you've bought the essential oils. Did I mention it's thick and creamy? ; ) ps I still don't know exactly what ylang-ylang is.