"Splendid" Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I started picking up inklings of Jeni Britton-Bauer late last fall, when a local coffee shop here in Nashville started carrying her artisan ice creams flown in from Ohio. While I never made it over to the coffee shop and subsequently stopped thinking about artisan ice cream through the winter, in early spring I read that Jeni was opening her first store outside of Ohio in - you guessed it - Nashville.

Shortly thereafter, Josh decided on a whim to buy me an ice cream maker.

A few weeks later, I saw Jeni's book in a store in New York City, with recipes for her signature flavors.

Then, my good friend Krista managed to get to Jeni's before I could and proceeded to rave about it.

That was the last straw - the universe wanted me to have Jeni's in my life, damn it, and who was I not to take heed? I bought the book.

The book, aside from the fact that it's a page turner if only because you cannot wait to see what crazy combination Jeni teases you with on the following page, is outlined by season so you can make a point of using the freshest ingredients possible. In addition to ice creams, the book includes recipes for sorbets and frozen yogurts, as well as for ice cream cookies, cocktails and sundaes. It is comprehensive and gorgeously photographed, and judging by the first one I tried, the recipes themselves are foolproof. The ice cream froze as solid as you'd find it in any scoop shop, which can sometimes be difficult to acheive at home. The pure flavors of caramel and sea salt blasted through the custard, as well as a surprising taste of pure butter - even though there is no butter in the recipe. I am still amazed that I made this quart of amber heaven, but I did - and I'm ready for round 2 with Jeni at my side.

You will need:

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon corn starch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)


Make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker has been frozen for at least 24 hours. Do not remove from freezer until the moment you are ready to spin the ice cream macine.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: it will fizzle, pop and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, sitrring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. 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 into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Recipe and method copied from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home.

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

For a few years when I was very young, right before we moved to and stayed in Texas, my family lived in a tiny town in Massachusetts. I don't remember a whole lot from those days, but when I went to college in Rhode Island I visited often with a family that used to live down the street from us when we lived there in the late 80s. New England, specifically Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, remains one of my favorite places on earth. After all, it is what introduced me to quite possibly my #1 flavor combination: marshmallows and peanut butter.

My mom somehow found out about this winning combination sometime before I started school, and opening my lunch box to find a Fluffernutter (marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwich) was like finding gold to a kindergartener. Once we moved to Texas, the kids would gawk at my funny-looking sandwich with raging jealousy. "What is THAT?" How did they not know?

I would later find out that Fluffernutters were a New England thing, but of course that's all changed now - Fluffernutters are no longer a well-kept secret among New Englanders, and the flavor combination can be found anywhere. But, naturally, I had to make my own. It only took me 23 years since my first bite of Fluffernutter to get around to it.

You will need:

3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin  powder
1 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour 1/2 cup cold water and 3 1/2 packs of gelatin. Let sit while you make the sugar mixture.

In a medium pot combine sugar, remaining water, corn syrup and salt. Heat over low heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and let sugar come to a boil. It will bubble up quite a bit - do not let it overflow. Let it boil for 8-12 minutes, until it reaches 240 degrees F (measure with a candy thermometer).

Once mixture is at 240 degrees F, turn off heat and gently pour it in the mixer over the gelatin with the mixer on low speed. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixerall the way to high and beat for for 6-8 minutes. It should grow in size and be white and fluffy. About 3-4 minutes in, add the egg whites to a separate bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. with a hand mixer. Once stiff peaks are formed, add egg whites and vanilla bean paste to the sugar/gelatin mixture and beat until just combined.

Pour marshmallow mix into the 9 x 13 pan. You will not be able to get it all out of the bowl, but I found it helpful to spray a spatula with cooking spray. Dust powdered sugar on top and let sit to firm up for 3-5 hours.

Once firm, turn the pan upside down on a cutting board to release marshmallow rectangle. Cut them into pieces. I found the easiest way to do this was with a pizza cutter.

Every blog I read about making marshmallows warned of the ridiculous stickiness, the impossibility of getting the whole mixture out of the bowl, the difficulty of removing the marhsmallows from their resting pan. I experienced none of these fiascos, but you must follow these precautions:

1. When you think you've used enough powdered sugar and corn starch on the bottom of your resting pan, you haven't. Use more than you think you could possibly need, then add some more.

2. Pam cooking spray is your best friend. Spray your spaulta, spray your knife, spray your hands.

3. A stand mixer is essential. It is a work horse and it will not let you down. Turn that baby all the way up and let it go. I don't know if I can honestly suggest trying this without one.

Adapted from How Sweet Eats.