There are a number of reasons this isn’t a food blog. The obvious. But then there’s also the fact that as much as I may know how to take pictures of children, I find that I don’t remotely know how to take attractive pictures of food, which is critical part of having a food blog (knowing how to cook in some fashion that moves beyond following a recipe word for word — a knowledge I do not remotely have — also helps). I have a friend who is an amazing cook (you know who you are) — and food photographer — whom I am trying to persuade to share his brilliance in this food section. But for the time being you get me, without any pictures, sharing a holy-cow-was-that-amazing recipe.
Last night I finally cracked open Jenis Splendid Ice Creams at Home which I purchased a few weeks ago. I bought it not only because I love ice cream, but above all because Jeni Britton Bauer has recipes for the most unbelievable sounding flavors. Also, Bauer opens the book by saying, “I have never been a fan of ‘homemade’ ice cream. It’s usually icy, goopy, soupy, crumbly, eggy, gritty, and too buttery. So a few years ago I set out to try to create a better ice cream recipe for home kitchens.” It’s AMAZING! The recipes do require that you own an ice cream maker, but otherwise they are extremely easy. Since I was working with a five year old last night, we played it safe and stuck to dark chocolate. But I mean seriously dark. The recipe is actually called The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World. It feels like a betrayal of Jeni and her book to share the recipe in all its detail since that’s really the crux of the whole book. The secret ingredient is cream cheese, but you’ll need the book to get the quantities and all that good stuff. The result was somewhere between eating gourmet ice cream and eating fudge sauce. You have to like dense and flavor packed to like this one.
I will mention how I diverged slightly from the book, because I think it did make a difference. Personally — not a big fan of the whole mocha thing. Clearly I’m not in the majority in this, because there’s plenty of mocha around. But I like my coffee, coffee, and my chocolate, chocolate, and never the twain shall meet. I know there is coffee in a lot of chocolate dessert recipes there not to add coffee flavor but to shape the taste of the chocolate flavor. There is obviously a chemistry behind it which I have never bothered to figure out. But in this instance, when the recipe called for “1/2 cup brewed coffee” I just added water and the chocolate flavor definitely did not suffer for it. But I think most important was the choice of chocolate. At the beginning of the book, Bauer is emphatic about the importance of the quality of the ingredients. So when the recipe called for 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, I dug out of the cupboard a couple of the more interested cocoa powders I had recently purchase through the Baker’s Catalog. I used 1/4 cup Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa and 1/4 cup Black Cocoa.
Next up, I haven’t figured out how to handle the refrigeration issue (which is giving my husband an anxiety attack), but when we throw a party I am dying to have an ice cream bar. This book is just begging for it. Listen to these flavors (and there are equally curious sorbet flavors):
Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream
Toasted Rice Ice Cream with a Whiff of Coconut and Black Tea
Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Red Cherries
Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream
Salty Caramel Ice Cream
Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream
Star Anise Ice Cream with Candied Fennel Seeds
Olive Oil Ice Cream with Sea-Salted Pepitas
Bourbon Ice Cream with Toasted Buttered Pecans
Maple Ice Cream with Salty Buttered Nuts
Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles
Ylang Ylang Ice Cream with Clove and Honeycomb
Queen City Cayenne Ice Cream
Brown Butter Almont Brittle Ice Cream
Butter Ice Cream with Honey Hickory Pralines
(There are safer, but also significantly more adventurous flavors. I would love to hear how some of the crazy ones are if anyone wants to try them and let me know. I’m only willing to risk so much with my ice cream.)